Next-Generation Civil Rights Lawyers: Race and Representation in the Age of Identity Performance
75 Pages Posted: 14 Mar 2013
Date Written: March 13, 2013
This Book Review addresses two important new books, Professor Kenneth Mack’s Representing the Race: The Creation of the Civil Rights Lawyer and Professors Devon Carbado and Mitu Gulati’s Acting White? Rethinking Race in Post-Racial America, and utilizes their insights to both explore the challenges that face the next generation of civil rights lawyers and offer suggestions on how this next generation of civil rights lawyers can overcome these difficulties. Overall, this Book Review highlights one similarity in the roles of black civil rights attorneys past and present: the need for lawyers in both generations to perform their identities in ways that make them racially representative of Blacks and racially palatable to Whites. Thereafter, this Book Review shows how the performance of black civil rights attorneys as the representatives of individuals, groups, and communities has become more complicated over time by highlighting the differences between the challenges encountered by the early black civil rights lawyers and today’s and the next generation’s civil rights lawyers. Finally, this Book Review offers suggestions for strategies that the next generation of civil rights attorneys may use to rechannel the study and practice of civil rights law in more experimental, activist directions that attend to the complexities of how race is understood in today’s society as well as the complexities of how racial discrimination is practiced today.
Keywords: civil rights, identity performance, working identity, double consciousness, double bind, professional responsibility, ethics, discrimination, objections, post-racial, segregation, racial identity, NAACP, representation, criminal defense, racial profiling, intersectionality, racial exceptionalism
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