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Defining Race Through Law: Enforcing the Social Norms of Power and Privilege

7 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2010  

Donna E. Young

Albany Law School

Date Written: 2009


United States jurisprudence on racial subordination and inequality has been studied by lawmakers around the globe. This is not surprising given the historical impact that race has had on U.S. constitutionalism. Yet, some of the most successful anti-discrimination principles found in constitutional models outside the United States owe their effectiveness not to the ways in which they have emulated U.S. constitutionalism, but in the ways in which they have departed from it. This departure is due, in part, to the United States' failure to provide a progressive and workable vision of race. Structural or systemic racial subordination fall well outside the legal framework that was designed to address individual cases involving an identifiable wrongdoer and an identifiable person who has been wronged. Unfortunately, the U.S. legal system has too often supported a system of racial classification in order to distribute and manage privilege.

Keywords: jurisprudence, US constitutionalism, systemic racial subordination

Suggested Citation

Young, Donna E., Defining Race Through Law: Enforcing the Social Norms of Power and Privilege (2009). Albany Law Review, Vol. 72, No. 1041, 2009; Albany Law School Research Paper No. 37. Available at SSRN:

Donna E. Young (Contact Author)

Albany Law School ( email )

80 New Scotland Avenue
Albany, NY 12208
United States

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