Race Relations

It’s difficult to put into words just how racially divisive the O.J. Simpson trial was. That’s my first excuse for why this post is so bad. For nearly a year and a half, the entire nation was tuned into the trial. An entire constellation of ridiculous people became our first reality stars: the poodle-haired Marcia Clark, smooth-talkin’ Johnny Cochran, n-bomb aficionado Mark Furman, hirsute little person Lance Ito. Or maybe the stars were DNA evidence and reasonable doubt. Because for a year and change, America was riveted by a criminal trial. By lawyers and evidence and rulings and motions and cross examinations. And while we still occasionally watch trials of the century, we don’t do it with near as much vigor as we did when Orenthal James Simpson was indicted. And we definitely don’t break down along nearly the same rigid racial lines.

To put it into terms that current law school students will understand (an overwhelming majority of whom don’t remember the trial), O.J. Simpson was a lot like Justin Bieber. Like, that polarizing.

Let’s talk sports….

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I think we’ve all seen law schools or law firms conduct a “diversity campaign” through extremely selective photography. There might be only four people of color at your law school, but you can best believe that all four of them will show up in the brochure for prospective students. Your 100-person law firm might have only two brothers who can show up to work without wearing a uniform, but both of those dudes will magically end up in a central position on the law firm website.

Everybody knows the game. Black people, brown people, women, and people in the majority all know what the PR department is trying to do. Back when I was in law school, there was this sister in a wheelchair who had Harvard photographers following her around like paparazzi.

I never thought of these attempts to represent through photography what cannot be achieved in reality to be particularly problematic. I never thought that over-representing minorities in law school brochures was painful or offensive to the overwhelming majority that would therefore be underrepresented in the pictures. I guess I thought that one of the benefits of being in the majority is that you don’t need a stupid PR photo shoot to make you feel like you might be able to get through school without being discriminated against.

But maybe I was wrong about all that. Maybe there really is one law student in Indiana who is ready to blow the lid off of a serious case of reverse racism that has just been staring us right in the face…

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