Ambiguity, Ambivalence, and Awakening: A South Asian Becoming 'Critically' Aware of Race in America

11 Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy 71 (2009)

Chicago-Kent College of Law Research Paper

16 Pages Posted: 30 Nov 2012 Last revised: 13 Apr 2016

See all articles by Vinay Harpalani

Vinay Harpalani

University of New Mexico School of Law

Date Written: 2009

Abstract

"Ambiguity, Ambivalence, and Awakening: A South Asian Becoming 'Critically' Aware of Race in America" was the winner of the Angela Harris Award for Outstanding Student Writing at the Critical Race Theory 20 Conference. It is my critical race autobiography, where I describe my experiences growing up as a South Asian American -- a racially ambiguous figure -- during the implementation of school desegregation in New Castle County, Delaware. I relay some of my racial encounters in elementary and high school, and then discuss my undergraduate years at the University of Delaware; my graduate school education at the University of Pennsylvania; and my law school and legal academic ambitions at New York University School of Law. In the process, my essay explores nuances of racial identity and inequality that are manifested through everyday experiences in various settings.

Upon first reading this essay, the late Professor Derrick Bell, whom I worked with closely at NYU, said to me: "you had been far more sensitive to the pushes and pulls of race in your growing up than I was back in the 1940s and 50s." I responded to him that this "is because I had the benefit of reading your work..." before I actually wrote the essay.

Keywords: race, South Asian American, America, racial ambiguity, Critical Race Theory, racial justice

JEL Classification: K30, K39

Suggested Citation

Harpalani, Vinay, Ambiguity, Ambivalence, and Awakening: A South Asian Becoming 'Critically' Aware of Race in America (2009). 11 Berkeley Journal of African-American Law & Policy 71 (2009); Chicago-Kent College of Law Research Paper. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2183234

Vinay Harpalani (Contact Author)

University of New Mexico School of Law ( email )

1117 Stanford, N.E.
Albuquerque, NM 87131
United States

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