Cleaning Up Our Own Houses: Creating Anti-Racist Clinical Programs
29 Clin. L. Rev. (Fall 2022)
Duke Law School Public Law & Legal Theory Series No. 2022-52
63 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2022 Last revised: 11 Oct 2022
Date Written: August 31, 2021
A formidable body of research and scholarship describes the unique difficulties faced by various minoritized groups within our law schools. Women, people of color, those with disabilities, LGBTQ+ people, and all those outside, overlapping, or in-between have powerfully described how their turn through legal academia was marked by discrimination, disconnection, and isolation. Law school has been described as a “white space,” and can also be viewed through the lens of white supremacy: a way to uphold and perpetuate a system of racial hierarchy. Clinics have largely been spared from these critiques and are often held up as solutions to the problems of our wider institutions. Clinicians can be lulled into thinking we are immune from such critiques, given our historic and often-outsider status within our institutions, as well as our mission to increase access to justice and serve our communities.
Yet the fact remains that law school is oppressive for students and faculty from historically excluded populations, particularly racial minorities. And clinics are part of law school; we may unintentionally support the same oppressions or even actively reinforce them. To avoid this, we must critically examine our own shortcomings and make deliberate steps to “clean up our own houses” so we can do better by our students and schools. This article is an effort to guide clinics in that process of self-evaluation, to begin to see the many ways that we may be perpetuating racism unconsciously within our own programs and offer concrete suggestions for how to change.
Keywords: Anti-racism, clinical teaching, diversity, equity, inclusion, belonging, faculty, racism, white supremacy
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