University of Arkansas at Little Rock - William H. Bowen School of Law
October 13, 2009
Harvard BlackLetter Law Journal/Harvard Journal on Race and Ethnic Justice, Vol. 25, p. 199, 2009
A respectable newspaper asserted: "Racist has become a largely meaningless term of political invective-like . . . Liberal, Neocon[servative], name your favorite term of political invective." This article investigates the difference between the labels “racist,” on the one hand, and “liberal” and “conservative,” on the other, in four contexts: employment, admission to the bar, the use of peremptory challenges in jury selection, and defamation law. The article concludes that the newspaper got it wrong: the epithet “racist” is significant and harmful, unlike the generally benign classifications “liberal” and “conservative.” The lesson: the label “racist” is a pernicious pejorative and is generally recognized by the law as such. It should not be bandied about frivolously, but, rather, should be reserved for those situations in which actual racial discrimination exists.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 30
Keywords: racism, equality, civil rights, equal protection, social justice
Date posted: October 16, 2009 ; Last revised: April 11, 2015