Import of the Race, Gender, Sexuality, & Social Justice Law Journal in 2021
The launch of the Race, Gender, Sexuality and Social Justice Law Journal is no small feat and I applaud our student leaders for their fortitude in the middle of a year unlike any other. In 2020, our country underwent a national reckoning on race trigged by the unlawful death by police of several unarmed African American women and men while grappling with a global pandemic that halted life as we knew it. Our GGU law students, like all students everywhere, persevered – shifting to remote learning and remaining focused. Their longstanding goal to create a space at GGU Law to lift legal issues largely neglected by traditional legal scholarship remained remarkably steadfast. This Journal is a testament to their dedication to a project bigger than them and something that will outlive their time at GGU Law. I am deeply humbled to serve as their faculty advisor.
The import of launching an academic Journal that is by definition focused on scholarship that addresses issues of race, gender, sexuality, and social justice, in this moment, is especially noteworthy. As someone who has spent her entire academic and professional career focused on addressing the unmet rights of children and youth who intersect with our criminal justice system, I am overwhelmed by the historic significance of this achievement. We are living in a critical moment in our history. Deep engagement with difficult issues about race, gender, and sexuality are essential for our survival as a democratic society. The responsibility to engage falls heavily on legal scholars and students who will be the workers who help rebuild the deep fractures in our legal and political landscape. Not only do we have a deeply divided country, many in power have attempted to silence the exact issues that spurred the genesis of this Journal. In September 2020, President Trump’s Department of Education attempted to censor Critical Race Theory (CRT), announcing that it would review training materials to eliminate this allegedly “un-American propaganda.” The focus of CRT is on the ways that race is baked into the current political, economic, and social system so that racial subordination is reproduced through normal operations, often without regard to intent. The attempt to silence is described most aptly by Professor Cheryl Harris, a leading CRT scholar (and my friend and mentor) when she writes that the Administration’s attempt to censure CRT is “Trump’s version of anti-anti-racism remix in which anti-racism is demonized as the enemy, rather than racial oppression.”
The naming of this oppression is critical to its demise. Our country’s history has taught us that denial of racism, ableism, sexism, genderism, and economic inequalities are dangerous practices that lead to political turmoil and the deep racial and economic divides we face in 2021, and the same ones that continually test the limits of the law. Thus it is especially critical for the Journal to provide an avenue to ensure that rigorous legal scholarship is diverse in thought and engaged with varied viewpoints from a range authors on cutting edge topics while also reimagining an equitable and just future.
GGU Law is particularly well situated to be the home of these legal conversations given its history, diverse study body, and mission as a school of opportunity. In many ways, thus, the Race, Gender, Sexuality & Social Justice Law Journal represents the future. And the future is now.
Inaugural Faculty Advisor, GGU RGS & Social Justice Law Journal
Associate Professor of Law, GGU School of Law