Safety, Friendship, and Dreams

38 Pages Posted: 19 Jun 2020

Date Written: March 1, 2019


This Symposium Essay argues that the unfinished work of the Civil Rights Movement is observable through state failure to respect and protect three intertwined social entitlements — safety, friendship, and dreams — in many high-poverty African-American communities. One might envision these entitlements as part of a bundle of rights and privileges that constitute full membership in the American community. The Essay also discusses the challenges of viscerally understanding the depths of these failures and the need for new conceptions of legal and social change to recognize and respond to them. To build these arguments, I weave together "empirical poetry," sociological theory, and analysis of case law. The goal of these techniques is to help stimulate creative thinking about what the United States government owes to people living within the country, especially people who are members of historically marginalized communities, why the government owes these entitlements, and how to ensure their fulfillment.

Keywords: safety, friendship, dreams, rights, race, poverty

Suggested Citation

Bell, Monica C., Safety, Friendship, and Dreams (March 1, 2019). Harvard Civil Rights- Civil Liberties Law Review (CR-CL), Vol. 54, 2019, pp. 703-39, Available at SSRN:

Monica C. Bell (Contact Author)

Yale University - Law School ( email )

P.O. Box 208215
New Haven, CT 06520-8215
United States

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