CRGS 360. Race, Gender, and U.S. Law

How are race, gender, and sexuality constructed and regulated in U.S. law? How have activists challenged such regulations? Discussion of slavery, miscegenation, eugenics, birth control, marriage, welfare, and affirmative action. [DCG-d.]

How are race and gender constructed and regulated in U.S. law?  How have activists challenged such constructions and regulations?  Is it possible to use the law even as we critique it?  How can we demystify the power of the law and legal language?  Why is it important to see the intersections between race and gender, and between racism and sexism, in order to analyze legal constructions and work for social justice?  To address some of these questions, and to generate many others, we'll analyze U.S. law, legal analysis and activism around slavery, eugenics, birth control, marriage, immigration, welfare policies and the Prison Industrial Complex.  Course requirements include three midterms, co-facilitation of discussion, group research on an activist organization, and active class participation.  Since class discussion is vital to this course, multiple absences or lack of participation will lower your grade.

We address some very charged issues in this class, and we need to work actively to maintain a classroom culture that is safe and respectful.  Students should feel safe to express their views here.  Everyone should be respectful of the views, experiences and humanity of others.  But we won't always be comfortable -- sometimes we have to be pushed outside our comfort zones for learning (and unlearning) to take place.  We will be uncomfortable at times.  And we will feel angry (or have to sit with other people's anger) at times.  Try to anticipate moments of discomfort and make them learning opportunities.  We will discuss a list of ground rules and classroom strategies to help create the classroom culture we want.


Dorothy Roberts, Killing the Black Body: Race, Reproduction and the Meaning of Liberty

Angela Davis, Are Prisons Obsolete?

Silliman, Fried, Ross and Gutiérrez (editors), Undivided Rights: Women of Color Organize for Reproductive Rights (recommended)

Color of Violence: The INCITE! Anthology (recommended)

Jael Silliman and Anannya Bhattacharjee (editors), Policing the National Body: Race, Gender, and Criminalization (optional)

Walter Mosley, Always Outnumbered, Always Outgunned (optional)

Michelle Alexander, The New Jim Crow

Eric A. Stanley and Nat Smith, Captive Genders (2015)

Jaqueline Battalora, Birth of a White Nation, The Invention of White People and Its Relevance Today

F. Michael Higginbotham, Race Law: Cases, Commentary, and Questions, Fourth Edition

Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, Race, Law, and American Society: 1607-Present (Criminology and Justice Studies) (2013)

Ian Haney Lopez, White by Law 10th Anniversary Edition: The Legal Construction of Race (Critical America) (2006)

Richard Rothstein, The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America (2017)