Best Kept Secret Exposed! Georgia State Law’s Racial Justice Resources

The summer of 2020 found many of us searching for new ways to integrate racial justice into our law courses. My approach was to develop a new course called “Human Rights, Intersectionality, and the Law” for upper level students at Penn State Law. I am teaching the course for the first time this semester. A critical part of my course design came from a resource that is one of the best kept secrets in legal education –but no longer! I am excited to share with you and encourage you to utilize Georgia State Law’s Racial Justice Resources, which include a seemingly endless set of links to articles, videos, and other materials on teaching critical race issues, as well as a how-to guide for teaching race in 1L courses. 

I agonized over how to begin developing my syllabus, but my agony transformed to exuberance when I found this resource. It enabled me to reach my goal of amplifying the voices of women of color and others with intersectional identities. Every sub-topic I had conceived for my course was either covered by one of the linked materials or by a source referenced by one of them. One exciting rabbit hole led to another. For example, Alexi Nunn Freeman and Lindsey Webb’s Positive Disruption: Addressing Race in a Time of Social Change affirmed my approach to using non-legal material to frame issues alongside traditional legal texts and provided a plethora of materials in its citations. This Pew Research Center article on Native American poverty led me to numerous others which resulted in my assigning this piece on uneven vs. sustainable development in Portland, including racial and gender justice. The Georgia State Law Racial Justice site’s Introduction page offers sample language for learning objectives, which I incorporated chapter-and-verse into my syllabus, crediting the brilliant Dean Danielle Conway of my “sister school” Penn State Dickinson Law, who authored the learning objectives.

Perhaps most importantly, this article from the psychology discipline helped me come to terms with teaching these topics as a white woman. It gave me concrete, detailed, evidence-based suggestions about how to intentionally design and deliver a course as an ally rather than a well-intentioned but uninformed academic trying to speak a language not my own. It even gave it a name: Multicultural Imposter Syndrome. This helped me see that openly expressing my solidarity for those who have been subordinated is useful in the classroom, even as I acknowledge that my experience is not the same as theirs. Similarly, the article White Doors, Black Footsteps: Leveraging “White Privilege” to Benefit Students of Color by Leslie Culver confirmed for me the concept that I can advance diversity in the profession by offering a course like this. 

So there it is. The secret is out. Georgia State Law’s Center for Access to Justice, law librarians, and their partners have compiled a true gem. Spread the word!

One Response

  1. Thank you Jill for this really thoughtful and inspiring post to those of us who want to stretch our learning, defer when appropriate, and teach better. I am in the midst of proposing a course to my faculty academic committee on Cultural Humility and your post provides thoughtful and helpful resources and perspectives. Faculty at my school created a Racial Justice Institute which is also a source of help and learning for me. Together we will get better at all this.

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