High Anxiety: Racism, the Law, and Legal Education

58 Pages Posted: 11 Aug 2022 Last revised: 25 Apr 2023

Date Written: August 10, 2022


Conspicuously absent from the United States’ ongoing discourse about its racist history is a more honest discussion about the individual and personal stressors that are evoked in people when they talk about racism. What if they got it wrong? The fear of being cancelled - the public shaming for remarks that are deemed racist - has had a chilling effect on having meaningful conversations about racism. What lost opportunities! This paper moves this discussion into the law school context. How might law schools rethink their law school curricula to more accurately represent the role systemic racism has played in shaping the law while still respecting community members’ different perspectives about racism pedagogy? As in our broader society, law school community members’ fear of 'getting it wrong' and possibly being cancelled has had a chilling effect on having candid conversations about racism within legal education and the law. In this discussion, the author prescribes one of the first dispute system frameworks for implementing pedagogy on racism in law school, highlighting the different racial stressors ignited in doctrinal, clinical, skills, and experiential learning classes. The dispute resolution system is built on a restorative justice framework and draws on an interdisciplinary understanding of the physiology and psychology of racial stressors. Building on that knowledge, the paper explains how racial stressors, if constructively addressed, can actually enhance learning about racism and better prepare law students for real-world practice.

Keywords: Racism, law, legal education, racial stress(ors), cancelling, dispute system design, mediation, practice competent, anti- racism, systemic racism, micro aggressions, anxiety

Suggested Citation

Greenberg, Elayne E., High Anxiety: Racism, the Law, and Legal Education (August 10, 2022). St. John's Legal Studies Research Paper No. 22-0009, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4187155 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4187155

Elayne E. Greenberg (Contact Author)

St. John's University School of Law ( email )

8000 Utopia Parkway
Queens, NY 11439
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.stjohns.edu/academics/graduate/law/academics/centers/careycenter

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