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On Justitia, Race, Gender, and Blindness

32 Pages Posted: 17 Jan 2007  

I. Bennett Capers

Brooklyn Law School


If there is one image we associate with justice, it is of Justitia herself, blindfolded, balancing a scale in one hand, brandishing an unsheathed sword in the other. The image is so ubiquitous that we are often beyond noticing it. Late for court, late for class, or simply indifferent, we walk past it, barely glancing up.

This Essay - Justitia, Race, Gender, and Blindness - is about seeing Justitia and questioning how the image functions, both aesthetically and morally. Drawing upon law, literature, art history, and cultural studies, this Essay also problematizes Justitia. After all, what does it mean, connotatively and denotatively, for Justitia to be blind in a racialized society where color is so determinative? And conversely, what does it mean to fix a black gaze upon an image of justice that has been figured as white and female? The Essay contends that answering these questions is imperative for those of us who care about making our criminal justice system fairer, both in the way justice is meted out, and in our perception of justice.

Keywords: criminal law, criminal procedure, race, gender, cultural studies, humanities, art history, literature

Suggested Citation

Capers, I. Bennett, On Justitia, Race, Gender, and Blindness. Michigan Journal of Race and Law, Vol. 12, p. 203, 2006; Hofstra University Legal Studies Research Paper No. 07-1. Available at SSRN:

I. Bennett Capers (Contact Author)

Brooklyn Law School ( email )

250 Joralemon Street
Brooklyn, NY 11201
United States


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