OCTOBER 2-4, 2014
See also Concurrent Sessions below Main Panels.
In 1993, the Harvard Law Review published Cheryl Harris's now seminal article, Whiteness as Property. Over the past two decades, the article has had tremendous impact inside and outside of legal academia, as well as within and beyond the borders of the United States. Broadly articulated, the purpose of this conference is to map and critically examine this impact. More precisely, the conference will explore the multiple trajectories along which Whiteness as Property has travelled and query whether and to what extent its conceptual framework has been re-constituted or re-articulated in the process. Over two and a half days, the conference will reflect on the political, legal, and intellectual context out of which Whiteness as Property emerged, explore how, if at all, its theoretical arguments have been revised, interrogate the impact of Whiteness as Property across academic disciplines, consider its relevance for a range of civil rights debates, as well as its implications globally, and examine the mobilization of the ideas in Whiteness as Property as pedagogy, legal practice, and social movement organizing. Our hope is to foster a conversation not only about where Whiteness as Property has gone but also about where it might have traction and still needs to go.
October 2, 2014
Welcome and Introduction to the Symposium
- Dean Rachel Moran, Dean and Michael J. Connell Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
- M. Belinda Tucker, Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Center for Culture and Health, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine, Vice Provost, Institute of American Cultures, Faculty Associate, Bunche Center for African American Studies, UCLA
Whiteness As Property: Critical Foundations
- Devon W. Carbado, The Honorable Harry Pregerson Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
- Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, Distinguished Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law; Professor of Law, Columbia Law School
- Neil Gotanda, Professor of Law, Western State College of Law
- Robin D.G. Kelley, Distinguished Professor of History, Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in United States History, UCLA
- Margaret Jane Radin, Henry King Ransom Professor of Law, The University of Michigan Law School
- Angela R. Riley, Professor of Law, Director, UCLA American Indian Studies Center, Director, MA/JD Joint Degree Program in Law and American Indian Studies, Co-director, Native Nations Law and Policy Center, UCLA School of Law
When the Harvard Law Review published Whiteness as Property in 1993, Critical Race Theory was still in a formative moment, though already influencing and being influenced by other legal discourses, including feminist legal theory and critical legal studies. By this time, the Supreme Court had solidified its retreat from race conscious remedies, affirmed and undermined Native American sovereignty, and continued to normalize male and heterosexual baselines in adjudicating sex discrimination claims. The domain of ordinary politics was no less fraught. The very year Whiteness made its debut, Bill Clinton became the 42nd President of the United States, inaugurating a new kind of racial liberalism that sought to “mend but not end” affirmative action, “reform” (essentially gut) welfare, and facilitate legislative efforts to broaden law enforcement powers, furthering the “War on Drugs” and enabling the removal and deportation of undocumented persons from the United States. The foregoing developments were crucial predicates for the continued criminalization of poor communities and people of color, the expansion of the apparatus of incarceration, and the inauguration of the War on Terror in the aftermath of 9/11. On the other side of the globe, Africa’s newest democracy was emerging from apartheid oppression—a system that came into being alongside and in concert with its counterpart in the United States: Jim Crow. Understanding the apartheid/Jim Crow genesis and genealogies, including the extent to which their effects on both regimes transcend their formal demise, is crucial to understanding both the initial articulation of Whiteness as Property and the way in which the concept would travel.
October 3, 2014
Plenary: Whiteness as Property and Contemporary Civil Rights Debates
- Laura E. Gómez, Vice Dean and Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
- Noura Erakat, Assistant Professor, George Mason University
- Russell Robinson, The Distinguished Haas Chair in LGBT Equity Professor of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law
- Rose Cuison Villazor, Professor of Law, UC Davis School of Law
- Robert St. Martin Westley, LOCHEF Professor of Legal Ethics & Professional Responsibility, Tulane University School of Law
- Noah D. Zatz, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
Paradoxically, the fact that Barack Obama is the President of the United States has made the pursuit of racial justice harder than ever. His ascendance to the forefront of U.S. politics ushered in the rhetoric of “post-racialism” or, roughly, the idea that we have overcome the racial problems that once plagued our nation. Significantly, proponents of post-racialism do not deny that racial inequality persists; rather, they locate those inequalities in the choices, or “cultural pathologies,” particularly of Blacks and Latin@s. Other communities of color--Asian and Muslim specifically-- are differentially racialized, as “foreign” and “dangerous” respectively, similarly justifying discriminatory treatment as logical, necessary, and normatively legitimate. This framing of the racial landscape as one that occludes and normalizes racial inequality is precisely what Whiteness as Property sought to foreground—the subtle but significant ways in which legal regimes, political discourses, and cultural practices entrench and render invisible the cumulative advantages of whiteness. This panel considers how these advantages shape and affect a range of important contemporary civil rights debates in order to reveal and disrupt the instantiation of whiteness as the unarticulated racial default against which legal disputes are articulated, adjudicated, and culturally understood.
Plenary: Teaching Whiteness as Property: Pedagogical Implications of the Theory
- Jerry Kang, Professor of Law, Professor of Asian American Studies, Korea Times-Hankook Ilbo Chair in Korean American Studies, UCLA School of Law
- Sumi Cho, Professor of Law, DePaul University College of Law
- Lisa M. Fairfax, Leroy Sorenson Merrifield Research Professor of Law, Director of Conference Programs, C-LEAF, The George Washington University Law School
- Charles R. Lawrence, III, Professor of Law, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa Centennial Professor, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law
- Daniel Solórzano, Professor of Education, Director, All Campus Consortium on Research for Diversity (UC/ACCORD), UCLA
- Valerie Purdie-Vaughns, Assistant Professor of Psychology, Columbia University
Most law schools in the United States offer a basic course in Race and the Law and most universities offer at least one ethnic studies course or a course that engages race through a particular disciplinary frame. Yet, scholars who teach race in various disciplines have had few opportunities to engage each other about the substantive ways in which they teach racial inequality and the pedagogical challenges of doing so. This panel will explore the extent to which the ideas advanced by Whiteness as Property are useful frames for interrogating race in the classroom and for challenging the disciplinary conventions around which colleges and universities are organized. The panelists will also take up questions of institutional culture, with particular attention to how Whiteness as Property might be used to highlight the ways in which colleges and universities function as racialized spaces and institutions, as well as how the professions themselves reinforce exclusionary logics. This examination is necessary for developing interventions that disrupt these patterns and facilitate the elimination of racially-biased structures and practices.
Plenary: Global Engagements with Whiteness as Property
- Asli Ü. Bâli, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
- E. Tendayi Achiume, Assistant Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
- George Bisharat, Professor of Law, University of California Hastings College of the Law
- Tanya Hernández, Professor of Law, Fordham University School of Law
- Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Professor of Indigenous Studies, Queensland University of Technology, Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation Member
- Albie Sachs, Visiting Professor of Law and Gruber Global Constitutionalism Fellow, Yale Law School
The problem of race and racial inequality transcends the United States. Across the globe, different nations have promulgated different legal regimes to combat the racial vulnerabilities of non-white populations. As in the United States, these efforts have met with various levels of success, but none has eliminated the operation of whiteness as a baseline that embeds racial hierarchy. In this respect, it is fair to say that the normalization and privileging of whiteness is a global phenomenon with which scholars and practitioners have had to contend. At the same time, there are distinctions between how whiteness is constituted in and across different contexts and how it intersects with broader contestations concerning human rights, indigeneity, national formations, and conflict. How they have done so is the subject of this panel. Close attention will be paid to whether there are lessons for the United States in the ways in how whiteness operates outside of its borders—and whether contestations of whiteness as property “at home” can be usefully redeployed to challenge legal and political regimes in other national contexts.
October 4, 2014
Plenary: Whiteness as Property and Legal Praxis
- Jyoti Nanda, Lecturer in Law, UCLA School of Law
- Margaret A. Burnham, Professor of Law, Northeastern University School of Law
- Mari J. Matsuda, Professor of Law, University of Hawai'i at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law
- Tracy L. McCurty, Executive Director, Black Belt Justice Center
- Hiroshi Motomura, Susan Westerberg Prager Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
- Saúl Sarabia, Lecturer in Law, UCLA School of Law
This panel explores how Whiteness as Property functions as praxis—that is, as an asset of ideas that shape legal practice, policy interventions, political and legal discourse, and community engagement. Through examining historical and contemporary contestations implicating race, the article identified an inherent tension between the continued valorization of whiteness as treasured property in law and the uneven and partial apparatus of law reform that both targeted and legitimated racial inequality. This panel seeks to broaden the lens to consider a range of other locations that manifest these themes, as well as possibilities for their disruption through theoretically informed action. Litigation, public policy debates, and social movements are all sites in which praxis is both possible and necessary. This panel considers how the themes explored in Whiteness as Property can shape both analysis and action in contemporary law and policy debates involving social justice issues such as immigration, affirmative action, restitution, and interracial community engagement and organizing.
Keynote: Cheryl I. Harris, Rosalinde and Arthur Gilbert Professor in Civil Rights and Civil Liberties, UCLA School of Law
Whiteness as Property Across the Disciplines
- Sherod Thaxton, Assistant Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law
- Eric Avila, Professor of Chicana/o Studies, UCLA
- George Lipsitz, Professor, UC Santa Barbara
- Michael Omi, Associate Professor, UC Berkeley
- Daria Roithmayr, George T. and Harriet E. Pfleger Chair in Law, USC Gould School of Law
- Leti Volpp, Robert D. and Leslie Kay Raven Professor of Law in Access to Justice, UC Berkeley School of Law
Whiteness as Property argued that the ruthless enforcement of racial boundaries via law and legal institutions featured as an essential aspect of racial subordination. This central claim, though fundamentally grounded in law and legal doctrine, had implications for the study of racial inequality more generally. In particular, the argument that whiteness was a rigorously policed resource from which people could derive material benefits proved crucial to broadening the study of race from the question of what racism takes away to the question of what it confers. This panel considers how the ideas Whiteness as Property advanced have circulated and shaped the framing of racial inequality across disciplines. This engagement will include a discussion of whether the way in which Whiteness as Property has travelled outside of the law can shape how we understand subordination, power, and identities in the context of law.
Closing: Jasleen Kohli, Director, Critical Race Studies Program, UCLA School of Law
See also Main Panels above Concurrent Sessions.
1. Whiteness as Property in Practice: Attorneys of Color in White Spaces
- Angela Onwuachi-Willig, Charles M. and Marion J. Kierscht Professor of Law, University of Iowa College of Law
- Meera Deo, Associate Professor, Thomas Jefferson School of Law; Discrimination in Hiring and Promoting Law Faculty of Color
- Bryant Garth, Chancellor’s Professor of Law, UC Irvine School of Law; Race and Ethnicity through the Lens of the After the J.D. Project
- Luz Herrera, Assistant Dean of Clinical Education, Experiential Learning, and Public Service, UCLA School of Law; Whiteness as Property in Public Interest Lawyering
Historically, the practice of law has been an elite endeavor. The profession privileged those who asserted a property interest in being white and male, relegating others to non‐participatory positions. In one instance, the court upheld a law specifying that non‐whites could not even testify against whites. In another, judges opined that the “natural and proper timidity and delicacy” of women deemed them unfit for legal practice. More commonly, and more recently, regulation of the white‐normative aspects of the legal profession has tracked the shift in racism generally, becoming more “subtle though no less damaging.” Thus, the culture of the legal profession remains overwhelmingly white and xenophobic. In legal academia, whiteness is maintained both through implicit bias and direct discrimination against entry‐level candidates, while senior scholars of color may be reluctant to assume leadership roles based on the race‐based challenges they anticipate. Practicing attorneys of color may face fewer initial hurdles, at least in the corporate sector. Yet, few lawyers of color successfully climb the corporate law firm ladder to partnership and leadership positions. Even in public interest settings, which many expect are flooded with attorneys of color committed to social justice, the environment is often unfriendly to people of color who seek to change the traditional white paradigm. This panel will explore white spaces in the legal profession, focusing explicitly on the ways in which a vested property interest in whiteness continues to exclude and isolate attorneys of color. The discussion will include both challenges facing legal academics, corporate attorneys, and public interest lawyers of color, and strategies for combatting ongoing discrimination in order to achieve professional success.
2. Beyond Whiteness: Exploring Property Interests in Racial and Sexual Identities
- Sheldon Bernard Lyke, Assistant Professor of Law, Whittier Law School
- Nicole Guidotti-Hernandez, Associate Professor, American Studies, University of Texas at Austin; Whiteness as a Sexual and Racial Modality of Property Relations in the Nineteenth Century Arizona-Sonora Borderlands
- Osamudia James, Professor of Law, University of Miami School of Law; Identity Politics as Resilience
- Stewart Chang, Assistant Professor of Law, Whittier Law School; Racial Capitalism and Jeremy Lin: Deconstructing the 'Merits' of the NBA Contract
- Ainsley LeSure, Lecturer, Center for Gender & Sexuality Studies, University of Chicago; Interrogating the Interrelationship Between Identity Politics and the Concept of Property
- Sheldon Bernard Lyke, Assistant Professor of Law, Whittier Law School; Social Identity as Commons
This panel explores the scholarly extension of Cheryl Harris’s argument in Whiteness as Property. The papers discuss the property interests present in identities other than whiteness and examine how identity generally, but racial and sexual identities specifically, operates as property in society. The papers also explore how minority identity responds under the weight and shadow of power and in the margins of whiteness (and other dominant identities) as property. This panel expands the concept of whiteness as property, and applies the conceptualization outside of whiteness. The goal is to demonstrate the concept’s utility for understanding identity, property relations, social interaction, and politics amongst a variety of social groups.
This diverse, multi-disciplinary panel examines Harris’s argument from a variety of disciplinary backgrounds (i.e., American Studies, Cultural Studies, English, History, Law, Political Theory, and Sociology), interdisciplinary theoretical perspectives, and empirical examples. The panel examines race and sexuality both generally, and specifically, from blackness in entertainment, through heterosexual brownness on the U.S. Mexico border, to the commodification of commercial sex work in yellowface.
3. Colonialism as Property,Whiteness as Colonialism
- Robin D.G. Kelley, Gary B. Nash Professor of American History UCLA
- Nina Farnia, Ph.D. Candidate, Department of History, UC Davis; Colonialism Without Colonies: Palestine, Iran, and Resistance to American Empire
- Justin Leroy, Post-Doctoral Fellow, Charles Warren Center for American History, Harvard University; Slavery, Settler Colonialism, and the History of Black Anti-Imperialism
- Manijeh Nasrabadi, UC President’s Post-Doctoral Fellow, Asian American Studies UC Davis; Imperial Model Minorities Gone Rogue: Iranian Foreign Students in the Revolutionary Convergence
- Magid Shihade, Professor, Institute of International Studies, Birzeit University; Israel in Asia, Israel in the Globe: Mobility, Settler Colonialism, and Rupture
This panel seeks to explicate the relationship between white supremacy and colonialism in the age of American empire. Panelists will focus on the manifestations of white supremacy and colonialism both in the United States and in West Asia, the region commonly called “the Middle East.” The panelists will evaluate the repression of different racial communities in the United States and their resistance both to that repression and to the emerging American empire, arguing that colonialism is a constitutive factor in the making of American racial groups, domestic civil rights and immigration policies, and U.S.-based social movements. Thus, colonialism emerges as an organizing force not merely in the distribution of land and resources in the U.S., but throughout the uneven and contested terrains of American law and politics, as Cheryl Harris argues in Whiteness as Property.
Globally, American-style white supremacy continues to manifest itself throughout the region of West Asia. Panelists will consider the role of Israel as a U.S. proxy in the region, which is both governed by and espouses an explicit white supremacist politic. Iran continues to be the only major state actor in the region challenging both Israeli and American power, while also attempting to expand its own influence. Panelists will argue that the relations between Israel, the U.S. and Iran obscure a complicated, uneven web of colonial and neo-colonial relations that facilitate the expansion of U.S. empire throughout much of the Arab world, Central Asia and parts of Africa.
4. Food, Health, and Whiteness as Property
- Margot J. Pollans, Teaching Fellow, Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy, UCLA School of Law
- Ernesto Hernández-López, Professor of Law, Dale E. Fowler School of Law; Banning Sriracha: Municipal Authority and Racial Exclusion as Property
- Andrea Freeman, Assistant Professor, University of Hawai'i William S. Richardson School of Law; Whiteness as Property and Food Oppression
- Erin Kerrison, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Criminology and the Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania; “Things Just Got Outta Hand”: White Ownership of Victimhood and the Race- Based Medicalization of Addiction
Ernesto Hernández-López unravels the “Srirachaapocalypse,” involving legal controversies around the possible halt of production of the hot sauce Sriracha in the Los Angeles suburb of Irwindale in 2013, after concerns that its production emitted odors, causing a public nuisance. These controversies offer lessons on how insider-outsider dynamics are enflamed by municipal legal power and spatial exclusion. Andrea Freeman explores how food policy, created through the cooperation of the government and the food industry, results in food oppression - institutional, systemic, food-related action or policy that physically debilitates a socially subordinated group. An analysis of the role that whiteness plays in common health narratives is necessary to shed light on what drives food policy. Erin Kerrison draws upon empirical research that examines qualitative interviews conducted with approximately 300 drug-involved individuals released from prison in the 1990s, examining how drug-involved former prisoners conceive of their addiction and the extent to which race modifies ownership of a deviant status. Analyses are disaggregated by race and gender to identify whether patterns of meaning construction differ with inherited intersectional privilege.
5. Whiteness as Property: Broadening the Framework
- Sumit Baudh, UCLA School of Law, Doctor of Juridical Science (S.J.D.) Candidate 2016
- Timothy Golden, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Director of the Frederick Douglass Institute, West Chester University of Pennsylvania; Cruel Irony: Legally Securing the Christian Dimension of Whiteness as Property
- Brant T. Lee, Professor of Law, The University of Akron School of Law; From Self-Interest to Conscience
- Nicholás Espíritu, Staff Attorney, National Immigration Law Center, Los Angeles office; J.D. UCLA School of Law ’02; Citizenship as Property
- Amanda Werner, Legal Fellow, Office of US Senator Elizabeth Warren; J.D. UCLA School of Law ’14; Corporations are (White) People: How Corporate Privilege Reifies Whiteness as Property
Timothy Golden analyzes the recent Supreme Court decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby, Inc., 573 U.S. _______ (2014), and its relationship to Employment Division of Human Resources v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872 (1990). Through this analysis, Golden attempts to answer these questions: Does a relationship exist between whiteness as a property right and religion? If so, then what is it? Does religion facilitate the enshrinement of whiteness as a property right in American legal traditions? Does the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) fulfill its intended purpose? Does RFRA protect religious liberty at the expense of racial justice? Brant T. Lee utilizes insights from cognitive and behavioral psychology to establish that modern race discrimination is carried out through autonomic, affective dispositions, rather than through conscious intent; thus, no racist intent or conspiracy is required in order to maintain systems of racial inequality. He then asks the question whether there is any moral obligation to address or correct racial inequality that is unfair, for which nobody in particular is to blame, since it is not the product of intentional malice. Nicholás Espíritu investigates wht the growth of populations with disaggregated citizenship – such as the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) – means for efforts to achieve social justice and democratic legitimation. Amanda Werner suggests that the rise of corporate privilege has played a major role in enabling ongoing racial inequities, evolving and expanding with modern “colorblind” jurisprudence to reify white domination through an ostensibly race-neutral mechanism.
6. Whiteness as Property: Appropriation and Intellectual Property (no video available)
- Kelly Orians, UCLA School of Law J.D. Candidate 2015
- Deidre Keller, Associate Professor of Law, The Ohio Northern University Pettit College of Law and Anjali Vats, Assistant Professor of Communication and African and African Diaspora Studies, Boston College and Assistant Professor of Law, Boston College Law School; Whiteness as (Intellectual) Property: Authorship and Transformativeness as Possession
- Eunsong Kim, Ph.D. Candidate in Literature, U.C. San Diego; Interrogating Fountain: Whiteness & the Properties of Found
- Shun-Ling Chen, Assistant Research Professor, Institutum Iurisprudentiae, Academia Sinica; Whiteness as Property in Copyright – The Case of Cultural Appropriation in the Contemporary Western Music Industry
Through the lens of intellectual property, Deidre Keller and Anjali Vats examine copyright’s central trope for evaluating the existence of fair use, namely that of “transformativeness,” as the concept is used to protect the economic, social, and political benefits associated with whiteness. Eunsong Kim examines how the Western processes and rationale that lead to the normalization of found/appropriation, found-object art, found literature and the concept of the readymade—are foundationally dependent on whiteness. Shun-Ling Chen argues that the copyright system appears to be neutral but is in fact a product of chirographic society. It disadvantages musicians from communities with strong oral traditions, including black and indigenous musicians.
7. Whiteness as Property: Lessons on Property and Racial Privilege
- Jassmin Poyaoan, UCLA School of Law J.D. Candidate 2015
- Tom Romero, Professor of Law and History University of Denver; Teaching Whiteness as (the) Property Curriculum
- Aleatra Williams, Associate Professor, Charleston School of Law; Lending Discrimination, the Foreclosure Crisis and the Perpetuation of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Homeownership in the U.S.
- Priya Gupta, Associate Professor, Southwestern Law School; Governing the Single Family House: A (Brief) Legal History
- Shirley Thompson, Associate Professor, American Studies, University of Texas at Austin; Playing the Numbers: Quantitative Analysis and the Effort to Establish Property in Blackness
Based upon his experiences of teaching first-year Property every year since 2004, Tom Romero explores the pedagogical challenges and rewards of teaching and learning property law through the lens of race within a predominantly white institution. Aleatra Williams draws attention to the role of lending discrimination in the housing crisis. The concomitant consequences of lending discrimination during this crisis are greater wealth loss for minorities, furthered racial segregation and widened gaps in home ownership in the U.S. Priya Gupta investigates connections between the extensive New Deal law and regulation that led to the proliferation of single family detached houses and the continuing racial and gender disparities in housing security and ownership in the U.S. Drawing on the work of urban historians, architects, and geographers as its foundation, Gupta excavates the often overlooked histories of the law, zoning, and federal regulation that built America’s housing. Shirley Thompson focuses on the critical period of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and builds on the work of Avery Gordon, W.E.B. Du Bois, Toni Morrison, and others to theorize persistent anxieties over property rights in persons and the quantitative methods that make such rights visible, actionable, and exclusive.
1. Whiteness’s Aesthetic Properties
- andré douglas pond cummings, Interim Dean and Professor of Law, Indiana Tech Law School
- andré douglas pond cummings, Interim Dean and Professor of Law, Indiana Tech Law School; The Appearance of Diversity: Corporate Boardrooms, the Black Body, and the Property of a Good Photo-Op
- Donald F. Tibbs, Associate Professor of Law, Drexel University Law School; The Crime(s) of the Ear: Hip Hop Lyrics Aesthetic Properties in the Courtroom
- Nick J. Sciullo, Ph.D. candidate, Department of Communication, Georgia State University; Who’s Afraid of the Boogeyman? The Racialization of Richard Sherman(‘s Dreadlocks)
- Kim D. Chanbonpin, Associate Professor of Law, The John Marshall Law School; Black, White, or Other: Colorism in the Asian American Community
This panel considers the aesthetic dimensions of whiteness as property by considering hip-hop lyrics, dress, hair styles, the black body, photography, and other aestheticized markers of otherness. Often the whiteness as property idea is crudely reduced to economic interests, taking Peggy MacIntosh’s “knapsack” analogy too literally. This panel blends the aesthetic with the material, offering suggestions for ways to resist aesthetic whiteness in a multiracial world. This discussion entails a reflection on both legal and political, to the extent those realms can be divorced from each other anymore, considerations in modern day diversity policy, criminal law, and media representations of people of color. Without an appreciation for whiteness’s aesthetic property, critical race scholars risk an overly narrow legal, political, or sociological analysis of whiteness that ignores its less concrete dimensions. To recast Justice Potter Stewart, “I know whiteness when I see it.” The visual metaphor presents a new way to consider whiteness beyond economic interests and static notions of critical legal analysis.
2. But What About Me? Entitlement and Racial Identity
- Tristin Green, Professor of Law, University of San Francisco School of Law
- Tristin Green, Professor of Law, University of San Francisco School of Law; Personal Space and Racial Entitlement
- Osamudia James, Professor, University of Miami School of Law; Diversity and White Racial Identity
- Nancy Leong, Assistant Professor, University of Denver Sturm College of Law; Identity Entrepreneurs
- Camille Gear Rich, Associate Professor of Law, University of Southern California Gould School of Law; Marginal Whiteness Revisited
- Leticia Saucedo, Professor of Law, University of California, Davis School of Law; Whiteness as Property and the Criminalization of “Wrongly Documented” Work
Entitlement is the latest buzzword. It is pervasive in the news media (e.g., used to explain the motivations of the white-biracial man behind the Santa Barbara massacre) and prominent in popular literature (e.g. used to characterize the “give me attitude” of citizens demanding government benefits in the book A Nation of Takers: America’s Entitlement Epidemic). Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Americans’ preoccupation with entitlement is that the word has a radically unstable meaning, shifting reference in different public debates. It is used to describe everything from the basis for white, middle class rage about “entitlement- based” diversity programs such as affirmative action or public benefits to the attitudes of the white middle class itself, as it perceives certain social, cultural, and economic losses associated with the so-called browning of America.
This panel uses Cheryl Harris’s seminal article Whiteness as Property as an opportunity to interrogate racial “entitlement” in American society. Despite CRT’s role in establishing the cultural relevance of the term, we believe that it remains under-theorized both in CRT and in the academic literature more generally. Therefore, the purpose of this panel is to probe various meanings of entitlement and the ties of entitlement to racial identity as well as to consider ways in which the law shapes and reinforces racial dimensions of entitlement. The panel extends entitlement as a useful concept beyond the macro, societal (usually associated with provision of governmental services) to the micro, interpersonal expectations in relations and within institutions. It seeks to explore questions like the following: What is entitlement and how is it linked to racial identities? What does entitlement look like as it plays out in social interactions? How is entitlement distinct from and/or related to concepts like racism and in-group favoritism or egalitarianism and tolerance? What happens or might happen when micro-social-racial entitlement is disrupted? In what ways do organizational and/or institutional structures and narratives shape entitlement frames? In what ways does (or should) the law reinforce and/or disrupt racial entitlement?
The panel seeks to learn from the social science on the psychology of entitlement, racial identities, and prejudice. However, its goal is more theoretical and conceptual: to ask questions and generate theories about racial identity and entitlement in light of Harris’s insights from two decades ago and to consider the law’s role in reinforcing or disrupting entitlement in various contexts, such as schools and workplaces.
3. Whiteness as Property and Multiracial Identity
- Kevin Noble Maillard, Professor of Law, Syracuse University
- Kevin Noble Maillard, Professor of Law, Syracuse University
- Rose Villazor, Professor of Law, University of California, Davis School of Law
- Carla Pratt, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Professor of Law, The Dickinson School of Law, Penn State
- Addie C. Rolnick, Associate Professor, William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada
Scholar-Activist Gloria Anzaldúa once questioned the existence of true racial borders in the United States, and this issue becomes more pertinent as the nation grows more cognitively multiracial. But will statistical change be met by a substantive transformation of longstanding racial paradigms, or retrench whiteness as property?
The U.S. Census reports that whites will become a minority in 2043. At the same time, interracial intimacy and reproduction will continue to increase. This was famously chronicled on the cover of Time Magazine in 1993, which featured a computer generated face of demographically proportional multiracial woman, titled “The New Face of America.”
This roundtable will assess the reality, resistance, and realization of that vision and the diverse group of discussants will approach this issue informed by their own research and personal backgrounds. Rose Villazor will talk about the impact of immigration on the “browning” of America; Carla Pratt will discuss the difficult issue of race, identity, and finite ethnic resources in Native American tribes; Kevin Noble Maillard will discuss Loving v. Virginia and the lingering taboo of black-white intimacy; and Addie C. Rolnick will present ideas on inter-racial histories generally, on theorizing anti-Black and anti-Indian racism and on teaching inter-racial histories.
If the “New Face of America” will one day be nonwhite and heterogeneous, will it break the mold of a collective vision of race as separate, bordered phyla? How would multiraciality as a collective norm challenge the idea of Whiteness as Property? With these predicted demographic changes before us, will we view race differently in the 21st Century?
4. Expectation and the Propertied Regimes of Race, Gender and Security
- Pui-Yee Yu, UCLA School of Law J.D. Candidate 2015
- Sarah Haley, Assistant Professor of Gender Studies, UCLA; Expectation, Exclusion, and Enjoyment: A Carceral History of Gender Normativity as Property
- Jasmine Syedullah, UC President’s Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of English, UC Riverside; A Claim on her Future: A Criminalized Woman’s Right to Self-Defense
- Dylan Rodriguez, Professor of Ethnic Studies, UC Riverside; A Logic of Evisceration: Gendered Racial and Racial-Colonial Genocide in the Policing-Carceral State
- Erica Edwards, Associate Professor of English, UC Riverside; Blackness as Security: Race, Counterterror, and the Expectations of Safety
This panel brings together four scholars of policing and abolition to discuss the relationship between race, gender, and security in U.S. history and legal discourse. Drawing on Cheryl Harris’s paradigm-shifting analysis of whiteness as property, we examine how the discourses and practices of punishment and counterterrorism protect the propertied status of whiteness, even in an era defined by public discussions of the post-racial. We foreground the interdisciplinary methodologies of gender studies, cultural studies, ethnic studies, and abolition studies to extend Professor Harris’s important work, especially its claim that “whiteness was an ‘object’ over which continued control was—and is—expected,” to query how the expectations of privilege map differently onto varied, but related, racial gendered regimes of modern U.S. containment: the Georgia penal system, post-9/11 counterterrorism discourse, and self-defense. Altogether, these papers offer an interdisciplinary framework for critical race studies scholarship on policing and freedom that seeks to answer the conference organizers’ call to unmask subordination and provoke social change.
5. Whiteness as Property and Immigration
- Kat Choi, UCLA School of Law, J.D. Candidate 2015
- Beth Caldwell, Associate Professor of Legal Analysis, Writing & Skills, Southwestern Law School and Ellen Caldwell, Art Historian and Writer; Images, Immigration & Whiteness
- Angelica Chazaro, Visiting Assistant Professor, University of Washington School of Law; Illegality and Harm
- Raquel Gonzalez-Madrigal, Ph.D. Candidate, University of New Mexico, Albuquerque; Discourses of Property in Arizona’s SB1070 Law and the Struggle of Undocumented Immigrant Youth
- Nayla Wren, Associate at Holguin, Garfield, Martinez & Quinonez; Trafficking as Discrimination: Title VII as Victim-Centered Remedy for Forced Labor
This session focuses on immigration. In their interdisciplinary talk entitled, Images, Immigration & Whiteness, Beth Caldwell and Ellen Caldwell incorporate images presented by an art historian with a legal analysis by a law professor in order to highlight the relationships between whiteness and immigration law. Their talk will focus on the law’s work to preserve white privilege and will incorporate images that serve to reinforce or challenge the law. Angelica Chazaro draws attention to the 11 million undocumented people in the United States on the ‘path to citizenship.’ This push for legalization has led mainstream immigrant rights groups to deploy imagery of the undocumented as non-criminal, hard-working, and family-oriented – the ideal candidates to be invited into the spheres of the protections of whiteness. Chazaro argues that instead of centering citizenship, pro-immigrant advocacy should be guided by the question, “Will this intervention increase or decrease the harms related to living without lawful status?” Raquel Gonzalez-Madrigal unravels discourses of property in Arizona’s SB1070 Law and the struggle of undocumented immigrant youth. She asks the following questions: How are legal notions of property rooted in anti-immigration legislation? How does the 2010 Arizona bill use notions of property to uphold ideas of American citizenship and nationalism? Nayla Wren examines the utility of Title VII as a remedy for human trafficking. She provides a case study of a paradigmatic labor trafficking case involving Thai workers brought to the US under H2 visas. Wren argues that Title VII is a viable, victim-centered remedy for trafficking.
6. Whiteness as Property: Conceptual Origins and Disruptions
- Jasmine Phillips, UCLA School of Law J.D. Candidate 2015
- Don Anque, Emerging Scholar, Syracuse University College of Law; There and Back Again: Native American Tribal Disenrollment and Heritage
- Khaled Beydoun, Assistant Professor of Law, Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law, Barry University; Antebellum Islam
- Natsu Taylor Saito, Professor of Law Georgia State University College of Law; “The Unconstrained Right to Exclude”: Whiteness as Property in the American Settler Colonial Project
- Howard Winant, Professor of Sociology, UC Santa Barbara; Whiteness: On the Meaning of Progress
Don Anque examines, based on group paper with Christopher Doval and Elin Cortijo-Doval, the legal basis of tribal disenrollment and its entangled relationship with racial subordination and Native American heritage. Many disenrolled Native Americans question the validity of their ousting, which also calls into question the governing powers of Native American tribes and their basis for determining property rights and identity. Khaled Beydoun brings attention to the conflation of Muslim-American identity with Arab-American identity. This conflation perpetuates stereotypes within legal scholarship, government agencies, and civil rights interventions seeking to combat the marginalization of Muslim Americans – victims of post-9/11 profiling and new, local policing surveillance programs. Beydoun examines the legal seeds of this conflation, and the consequent erasure of Black Muslim identity that still prevails today. Natsu Taylor Saito assesses racial hierarchy in the United States as a function of ongoing settler colonial relations, and draws attention to the limitations of the equal protection framework (typically employed to analyze racial inequalities) and points to the liberatory potential of the right to self-determination as it applies not only to Indigenous peoples but all those deemed “Other”. Howard Winant reflects on the possibility of “white anti-racism” and suggests that it is not the repudiation or abolition of whiteness, but its reinvention that would provide the key to “white redemption”.
7. Whiteness and Criminal Justice
- Maya Garza, UCLA School of Law J.D. Candidate 2015
- Jay Borchert, PhD Candidate University of Michigan Department of Sociology; Epistemological Ownership of the Punishment State in the Era of Mass Incarceration
- Jamila Jefferson-Jones, Associate Professor Barry University Dwayne O. Andreas School of Law; Using Whiteness as Property to Promote Social Justice for Ex-Offenders
- Andrea Roth, Assistant Professor of Law, UC Berkeley School of Law; Race Against the Machine: Mechanization of Criminal Justice and Replication of Social Privilege
- Priscilla Ocen, Associate Professor of Law, Loyola Law School, Los Angeles; Prison & Gender
Through interviews with twenty-five state correctional department directors nationwide, Jay Borchert demonstrates linkages between the overwhelmingly white, male power structures that own our jurisprudence and correctional epistemology to reveal how vast social distance may work to conceal the social damages our punishment apparatus perpetrates upon citizen prisoners. Jamila Jefferson-Jones concludes that reputation bears the same characteristics as whiteness; therefore, it qualifies as “status property.” Once reputation is established as property, then government conduct is identified as the continued assault on reputation by the ongoing attachment of stigma, even after one’s sentence has been served. Andrea Roth shows how mechanical forms of proof replicate existing inequities, such as through selective positioning of red light cameras and contextual bias in DNA allele-calling. Priscilla Ocen will discuss the interface of law with prisons and gender.
8. Whiteness as Property and the Construction of Identities
- Lisa Pruitt, Professor of Law, UC Davis
- Sonia Katyal, Associate Dean for Research and Joseph M. McLaughlin Professor of Law, Fordham Law School, New York; The Intellectual Properties of Gender
- Nancy López, Associate Professor of Sociology, University of New Mexico; Colorblind & Neoliberal Racial Projects in Federal Data Collection: Why we Need Two Questions on Hispanic Origin & Race in the U.S. Census & Beyond
- Lisa Pruitt, Professor of Law, UC Davis; (Re)Assessing the Value of Whiteness as Property: Lessons from Winter’s Bone
- Karen Gaffney, English Professor, Raritan Valley Community College, NJ; Whiteness as Trespassed Property: Uniting Cheryl Harris and Novelist Joyce Carol Oates in Challenging the Status Quo
Sonia Katyal argues that in order to reimagine the regulation of sex and gender, it might be helpful to explore a parallel type of affiliation between property and intellectual property. Katyal presents a reconceptualization of gender, both descriptively and normatively, through the lens of property and intellectual property theory. Nancy López examines the politics of racial and ethnic guidelines and measurements in the Office of Management & Budget (OMB) and the Census as sites of macro-level racial formations. She argues that abstract liberal discourses that conflate race (master social status) with ethnicity (cultural background), national origin (nationality), or ancestry (distant lineage) contribute to hegemonic colorblind and neoliberal racial projects that undermine Civil Rights monitoring, enforcement and equity-based policy-making across a variety of policy arenas including housing, education, criminal justice and employment. López provides conceptual models and use-inspired questionnaire formats for racial and ethnic measurements that are anchored in the need to contextualize data collection for equity-based policy making. Lisa Pruitt analyzes whiteness as historical and contemporary property in Debra Granik’s 2010 award winning film, Winter’s Bone (based on Daniel Woodrell’s 2007 novel). Pruitt seeks to move beyond abstract discussion of whiteness by referencing the lived realities of socioeconomically disadvantaged whites and to ground and situate whiteness in ways that ultimately complicate its meaning within critical race theory. Karen Gaffney unites the works of Cheryl Harris and Joyce Carol Oates, a literary writer so that we can better understand the way whiteness has been socially constructed and re-constructed throughout American history, how its borders are vigilantly patrolled, and what happens when the property of whiteness becomes haunted.
9. Whiteness as Property: Racializing Childhood and Parenthood
- Juliet Williams, Associate Professor of Gender Studies and Associate Dean of the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA
- Bela August Walker, Associate Professor, Roger Williams University School of Law; Whiteness and Parenthood: Parental Status from Property Rights to Fundamental Rights
- Isy India Geronimo Thusi, Ph.D. Candidate, University of Witwatersrand; Whiteness as Property and the Criminalization of Minority Schoolchildren
- Juliet Williams, Associate Professor of Gender Studies and Associate Dean of the Division of Social Sciences at UCLA; White Privilege and ‘Boy Crisis’ Discourse
Bela August Walker argues that the rhetoric of rights is doing the work of property law. Today, these property rights determine who becomes a (legal) parent, the scope of that parenthood, and the extent to which the state comes to interfere with parenting. Those who once held greater property entitlements—because of whiteness, wealth or gender—continue to have greater protections of their “fundamental rights.” Isy India Geronimo (Thusi) argues that the over-criminalization of students of color highlights the power “nonracial” policies have in maintaining white superiority and maintaining the property interests whites have in their whiteness. Existing policies that are facially race-neutral exacerbate pre-existing advantages that promote white superiority. Juliet Williams focuses on K-12 public education reform debates and presents an analysis of the way claims about gender-based disadvantage have been deployed to retrench white privilege in U.S. public schools. With attention to the role that antidiscrimination law plays, Williams shows how white boys have come to achieve the status of a disadvantaged class in education reform circles.