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Brooklyn Law School Faculty Adopts Anti-Bias Resolution

08/24/2020

The following resolution was adopted by the Brooklyn Law School faculty on Aug. 21, 2020.

The history of the United States is steeped in racial animus, prejudice, the subjugation of people of color, and the enslavement of Black people. That legacy manifests today in the form of mass incarceration, race-based disparities in health, income, political power, wealth, education, housing, and environmental quality, as well as other manifestations of structural racism. As part of this legacy, the COVID-19 pandemic has affected systemically disempowered communities in extreme ways, including through disproportionate loss of life and loss of economic opportunities.

Our judicial system has contributed to the maintenance of racism and failed to uniformly hold accountable those who engage in vigilante violence and racial oppression. Black people and members of other systemically disempowered communities have been subjected with impunity to a long-standing pattern of brutality, excessive use of force, and brazen disregard of their lives, and that ongoing tolerance of institutional racism has resulted in the killings of countless people – some whose names are familiar, most whose names remain unknown. These and other manifestations of racial injustice breach the promise of equal justice under law and undermine the rule of law itself.

As members of the Brooklyn Law School faculty, we are compelled to act.

  • As lawyers and legal scholars, we must acknowledge that the history of the United States, its laws, and its legal system reflect and perpetuate racism. In order to pursue justice, we must fight this injustice inherent in our society and in our profession.
  • As educators, we must learn and grow as we ask our students to learn and grow. Being anti-racist must be an active, daily pursuit.
  • As members of the Brooklyn Law School community, we must acknowledge and empathize with the feelings of our students, our colleagues, and alumni who have been and continue to be systemically and structurally oppressed.
  • As people whose careers give us relative power and visibility, we must act in solidarity with those whom the structure of our racist society attempts to disempower and render invisible, engaging in their struggle as true allies.

We are a diverse body – yet, on the matter of opposing racism, we speak with one voice.

Therefore, this faculty repudiates racism in all its forms. We acknowledge our responsibility, individually and collectively, to identify, challenge, and condemn structural inequity however it may manifest. We hold ourselves accountable for engaging in both the inward-focused and outward-facing work of dismantling the systems of oppression that perpetuate racial inequities in our society and in our community. We strive to learn as we teach, listening to and amplifying the voices of those who are marginalized. As part of our duty to ensure access to justice and uphold the rule of law, we endeavor to innovate and champion efforts to reform our legal institutions.
We are proud that during a time when many law schools excluded women, religious minorities, and people of color, Brooklyn Law School accepted all qualified students, acting as an important gateway to economic, civic, and professional success for people of all backgrounds. However, we know that we can and must do more to be an actively anti-racist institution.

Our efforts to address racial inequity within Brooklyn Law School will include, but are not limited to:

  1. Evaluating and improving classroom teaching and culture to understand and eliminate racial and cultural bias;
  2. Continuing to engage with our students most subject to the effects of racism and invidious discrimination when shaping future curricular and institutional initiatives;
  3. Seeking, hiring, promoting, and retaining people of color as faculty, and advising the administration to do the same for staff, career counselors, and administrators, to the extent permitted by applicable law;
  4. Improving recruitment of and support for retaining a diverse student body by, among other things, considering input from all of our affinity student organizations, to the extent they would like to offer it;
  5. Developing workshops and seminars on race-sensitive teaching as well as possible changes in curricular emphases and course materials;
  6. Advocating for improved access to mental health services for students;
  7. Working to strengthen our existing student advisory system to support the law school’s diverse community, especially students of color and first-generation law students; and
  8. Engaging in community discussions about the presence of law enforcement on campus and as part of curricular and clinical activities.