Toward an Integral Critical Approach to Thinking, Talking, Writing, and Teaching About Race

33 Pages Posted: 20 Nov 2009 Last revised: 13 Dec 2012

Date Written: 2008


In this article, the author responds to arguments made by Professor Dan Subotnik in “Are Law Schools Racist?”, 43 U.S.F. L. Rev. 227 (2008). Professor Subotnik’s article dismisses critical race and gender scholarship and criticizes the narrative-based methodology employed by such scholars. To the author, “Are Law Schools Racist?” is an example of scholarship that reflects the alienating, wounding potential of mainstream and even some critical race approaches to law. The author argues that the time has come to rethink the way scholars approach the analysis and discussion of legal matters dealing with fundamental cultural and political conflicts.

The author suggests that scholars can best advance their efforts to discuss matters dealing with race and gender in the legal academy by personal and institutional commitments to a deeper discourse, which integrates the best in contemporary understanding about the way in which human beings respond to conflict holistically, and one which takes as its goal not mere adversarial debate, but restorative justice and healing. Legal scholars must develop and draw on communication and emotional awareness skills to deepen their capacity to communicate with mutual respect about difficult issues before they can expect to be able to work together to resolves issues of accountability and redress. Such an Integral Critical approach promises to ground conversations about social justice in human to human authenticity, from which new capacities for understanding, and for action, might reasonably be expected to emerge. Without this approach, conversations about the difficult legacies of racism in the law are bound to continue to promise much and deliver little.

Keywords: critical race theory, racism, integral critical approach, emotional intelligence, legal education, law schools

Suggested Citation

Magee, Rhonda V., Toward an Integral Critical Approach to Thinking, Talking, Writing, and Teaching About Race (2008). University of San Francisco Law Review, Vol. 43, 2008-2009, Univ. of San Francisco Law Research Paper No. 2010-14, Available at SSRN:

Rhonda V. Magee (Contact Author)

University of San Francisco ( email )

2130 Fulton Street
San Francisco, CA 94117
United States
415-422-5055 (Phone)

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