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Five Movements that We Wouldn’t Have without Brown

Ten years ago, I was lucky enough to hear the Honorable Constance Baker-Motley talk about her role in the Supreme Court decision Brown v. The Board of Education of Topeka. While the mood was festive for the 50th anniversary—which Yale Law School celebrated in style—Judge Baker Motley was a bit solemn when presaged that in a few years we will no longer be on a first name basis with Brown and many will ask, “What is Brown?” As Brown turns 60 years old this year, I am on a mission to prove your honor wrong. The landmark decision, which ended…

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Three Ways to Improve How Sexual Assaults on College Campuses Are Handled

A couple of weeks ago, the Obama administration issued much-needed guidelines and recommendations in response to the growing number of bungled sexual assault investigations at high-profile colleges and universities.  I would add another set of recommendations that are another way of getting to the root of this travesty. There is a glaring piece of low hanging fruit that these colleges should use in their sexual assault 2.0 policies:  faculty. Make Professors a Bigger Part of the Solution Professors are a sorely underutilized resources in the detection, correction, and prevention of sexual assaults on campus. (I’m sure that my faculty colleagues…

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Killing the Messenger Who Reveals Our Hypocrisy about Race

From beginning to end, the Donald Sterling controversy has had the wrong messaging. The 80-something year old owner of the LA Clippers is caught on tape demanding—or actually whining—that his 30-something year old girlfriend should stop associating with minorities, particularly black people.  That was bad enough, but then the Clippers’ official response to the public outcry was that they needed to “authenticate” the audio to confirm whether it was Sterling on the tapes. (Contrition would have been a much better strategy than hiding the ball—no pun intended.) However the condemnation spotlight is slowly turning away from Sterling and instead to…

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The Racial Vacuums that Create Clueless Rhetoric

During a regular news week, all Cliven Bundy would deserve is a big yawn.  However, the parallels between the US Supreme Court’s (SCOTUS) decision to uphold the Michigan ban on affirmative action in public education and Bundy’s raging antics that African-Americans were “better off” as slaves are too rich to miss. Cliven Bundy’s unenlightened racist rhetoric is nothing new.  You may recall Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum agreeing with Bob Vander Plaats, the leader of the arch-conservative Family Leader, that life for African-Americans was better during the era of slavery. Or, Pat Buchanan’s essay, “A Brief for Whitey,” suggesting that slavery…

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Justifying Your Existence in Law School with the Help of “I Too Am”

Every time I dismiss social media as a meaningless waste of time, a new and critical use for it arises. From Harvard to the University of Michigan, students of color are using Twitter, Facebook and other social media to raise awareness about an amorphous campus secret: Black students encounter bias.  These brave students—mostly Black—are are not suffering in silence but instead are using the power of social medias’ micro-messaging systems to raise awareness about the micro-aggressions and micro-inequities (which I collectively refer to as “the micros” and I’ll define them later in this blog) on college campuses.  Instead of ranting…

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Diversity Should Never Apologize to Discrimination

Whenever I see “diversity” in a New York Times article headline, I perk up. But, when the word “dishonesty” is also in the tile, I am intrigued. In Sunday’s paper, one of my favorite columnists, Ross Douthat, created a dissonance for me. Somehow, he managed to opine on three really big news items that dealt with vastly different aspects of diversity and rolled them all into one article: the anti-marriage equality CEO resigning from Mozilla; Brandeis withdrawing its invitation to Hirsi to be a graduation speaker; and Sandra Korn’s proposal to ending research at Harvard that furthers sex, race, and…

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Rusty Links: Four Strategies for Fixing the Chain of Command and Sexual Assault in the Military

In mediation, attorneys have a saying, “If neither party is pleased afterward—because neither party got everything it wanted and had to compromise—it meant that the mediation went well.” Sadly, the decisions in two military sexual assault cases last week, left everyone dissatisfied and I doubt that anyone would say that the proceedings went well.   The trial of Brig. Gen. Jeffery Sinclair, who admitted to adultery and was accused of sexual misconduct with a female subordinate, ended with him pleading to a lesser charge. Then two hours later, in a separate case, Joshua Tate, a former Naval Academy football player,…

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Confidence: The Crucial Element of Finding a Mentor

The following is an excerpt from Natalie Holder-Winfield’s upcoming book, “Exclusion: Strategies for Improving Diversity in Recruitment, Retention, and Promotion,” (ABA Publishing 2014). How does one overcome an office clique that is created by upper management? It’s difficult enough when coworkers band together to create an in-group and exclude others, but it is even worse when partners and senior associates decide to carve out social opportunities for some employees and not others. Lisa Charles* realized in her first real job after graduating from Duke University and Columbia Law School that the workplace was not created equally, especially if the boss…

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When Mentees Say Yes

One of the greatest ways to find a mentor is to have that mentor find you. There is a direct correlation between the amount of positive buzz about you and your visibility.So how do you create positive buzz? One way is to say yes when you are invited to participate in or volunteer for a worthwhile project. Often, we think that we don’t have the time to take on more committees, boards, and organizational work.However, Linda Gadsby, Legal Counsel for Scholastic, Inc., has a litmus test for determining the value of a project: her teenage son. “I try to choose…

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Informal Mentoring and Our Instinct to Help Some and Ignore Others

Katherine Milkman, PhD is a Wharton Operations and Information Management professor whose leading research on instincts and judgments sheds light on how and why we decide to help others. When I reached out to her on a Saturday morning via email for an interview, she responded within minutes. A few days later we spoke and I understood why she was so motivated to pursue her brand of research.When Professor Milkman looked around her PhD program, she noticed that all of a sudden the minorities and women who she spent so much time with in college were not there anymore. Once…

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