finally and fully embrace the difficult task of understanding and reckoning with our history. We must acknowledge the magnitude of American racism—including the way it poisons our own community—and recognize the urgency of pulling it down.
He wonders whether
students, with their unique sets of experiences informed by their own reading of history, are more closely attuned than he realizes to some truly deep obstacles to change?
He also critiques the effects of focusing on “dry technical issues”:
Issues of race are inextricably woven into the broad blanket of American law. The ideology of white supremacy and racial difference was at the epicenter of this society’s birth and upbringing. And it has settled deep in this country’s blood and bones, including in the gigantic, complex bundle of laws and court cases and customs that determine how we govern ourselves.
So when law schools presented with roomfuls of pliant young minds acquiesce in reducing major areas of law to “dry, technical issues,” they play a role in entrenching a system with racism in its marrow.
And suggests that even a seeming neutral, rational argument
often reflects a documented tendency of societies to legitimize the structures that have long secured dominant-group entitlements. Social psychologists call this tendency system justification theory. If this impulse to preserve the status quo drives much of the opposition to affirmative action, then it too is a formidable obstacle to change.
Harvard Law School vows in its mission statement “to educate leaders who contribute to the advancement of justice and the well-being of society.” To advance justice in our particular society, where the methodical administration of racial injustice has reigned for centuries, we must commit to uncovering the roots of the ideology of racial difference and breaking them out of the stubborn, hard-packed ground so many of us have comfortably trod for so long.