Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Inaugural James and Mary Lassiter Conference: Structural Racism in the U.S.

On February 25, 2011, the University of Kentucky College of Law will host the Inaugural James and Mary Lassiter Conference. The topic is Structural Racism: Inequality in America Today. Here's the conference abstract.
Whenever we see disparate racial outcomes in American society -- in education, health care, housing, criminal justice, or work opportunities -- we are seeing structural racism at work. But this is a form of racism that most white Americans do not perceive. Our society believes racism is both conscious and intentional, so that our legal system often ignores discriminatory effects unless the claimant can show explicitly racially-discriminatory intent. But sociologists discount intent when they analyze social processes. They have demonstrated that social structures and processes produce disparate racial outcomes without conscious intent.

Structural racism appears in our dependence on local property taxes for public school funding, or reliance on social networks to spread information about job openings, or subjective decision-making in the workplace, or a housing market that is driven by unconscious stereotypes, or the on-going exclusion of domestic and farm workers from Social Security benefits. Each example appears on the surface to be race-neutral. Yet their outcomes consistently disadvantage people of color.

The College of Law, Prof. William Wiecek, the inaugural Lassiter Distinguished Visiting Professor at the UK College of Law, faculty from many disciplines at UK, and presenters from other area universities and organizations are pleased to share their research and work on the racial disparities in outcomes and the structural processes that produce those disparities.

The goal of the conference is to engage in a cross-disciplinary exploration of structural racism in order to enable cross-disciplinary action to dismantle structural racism.
Based on the schedule, the legal historical perspective will be well represented. In addition to Professor Wiecek, presenters and commentators include Darrell Miller (University of Cincinnati Law), Owen Williams (Transylvania University), Patricia Minter (Western Kentucky University History), Jakobi Williams (University of Kentucky History), and Ron Formisano (University of Kentucky History).

You can find more information here.

Hat tip: Poverty Law