The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice


Flagrant racism has characterized the Trump era from the onset. Beginning with the 2016 presidential campaign, Trump has inflamed long-festering racial wounds and unleashed White supremacist reaction to the nation’s first Black President, in the process destabilizing our sense of the nation’s racial progress and upending core principles of legality, equality, and justice. As law professors, we sought to rise to these challenges and prepare the next generation of lawyers to succeed in a different and more polarized future. Our shared commitment resulted in a new course, “Race, Racism, and American Law,” in which we sought to explore the roots of race and racism and the legal system’s treatment of Native Americans, African Americans, and immigrants. While we remain uncertain of the success or efficacy of our efforts, this article describes the course, our approach, and some lessons we learned in hopes of promoting additional thought, discussion, and work toward eradicating racism. Perhaps most importantly, our experience demonstrated the limits of traditional legal pedagogy to effectively address these topics. Instead, we found that new approaches—relying on personal disclosure, collaboration, and work across the arbitrary divisions between areas of the law—provided firmer bases for empowering our students to deal with and move beyond America’s ongoing legacy of race and racism.

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June 17, 2019

Journal Title

The Scholar: St. Mary's Law Review on Race and Social Justice

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St. Mary's University School of Law


Riley F. Tunnell