From Race and racism

Surpassing the Impasse of Racism in Derrick Bell’s And We Are Not Saved

Derrick Bell argues in And We Are Not Saved that racism courses thickly through America’s blood. Majoritarian at its core, the country’s democratic capitalist society precludes equality in any true sense of the word. Indeed, Bell guides his readers through a bleak, sobering tour of the undergirding subjugation of black Americans—the dominant system’s very sustenance. Unraveling these depressing details throughout the book’s Chronicles, Bell concludes with a chapter titled, “Salvation for All: The Ultimate Civil Rights Strategy.” Here, Bell capitalizes on his literary methodology, guiding his readers to an aporetic state in order to point towards a potential light at…

Individualism as Illness and Antidote in Guinier’s The Tyranny of the Majority

In The Tyranny of the Majority, Lani Guinier lays a foundation for bottom-up empowerment in electoral and legislative systems. Rigid adherence to winner-take-all majority rule contorts and rips at the seams of an intrinsically organic and fluid structure. That is, humans comprise the body politic; not only is forcing amorphous interests, identities, and experiences into a rectilinear mold absurd, it is dangerous and oppressive, especially for historically marginalized minorities. Implicit in the majority’s electoral strategy is wholesale attachment to individualism that reigns over group- and community-based interests. Righting the wrongs of the current “I win, you lose” system requires a…

Epistemology of Empathy in Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy

In Just Mercy, Bryan Stevenson lays bare the inherent error in judgment that plagues the criminal justice system. Blinded by slavery’s legacy, prosecutors, lawyers, and judges seek colorblind principles of “justice” and “freedom” at the cost of any true sense of the words. Racism, like a cancer, spreads to every corner of the nation’s formal framework, weighing heavily on its collective consciousness. Stevenson shows that black and poor people now experience inordinate pain and suffering amidst slavery’s newest form, mass incarceration. An increasing number of children, women, and men live and die in cages, while many Americans buy into “get…