Racial Critiques of Legal Academia: A Reply in Favor of Context
UVA Law Faculty Affiliations
As a scholar of color who neither claims expertise as a result of being black nor writes from a black perspective,' I read with interest Professor Randall Kennedy's provocative article, Racial Critiques of legal academia. In Racial Critiques, Professor Kennedy challenges the claims of a trio of legal scholars of color that they and other scholars of color are partially excluded from legal academic discourse because of their race and, more importantly, that they have a unique, distinctive voice that speaks to certain color-related issues better than the voices of majority-that is, white scholars.
One might assume that I agree with Racial Critiques's challenge because I do not speak from a perspective of color, and that a scholar of color who speaks from the perspective of color will vehemently disagree with the tenor and motivations of Kennedy's challenge. Instead, I propose a new analysis, based not on objective truths, but on the reality of subjective perceptions. In my view, Kennedy has done both a great service and disservice to all scholars of color who write from a perspective of color. Kennedy's work raises the question whether scholars of color employ a distinctive or privileged voice when speaking to matters of color, and, if so, how should we evaluate such scholarship. Kennedy's negative treatment of the voice of color is unfortunate and a disservice to scholars of color, and particularly Professors Derrick Bell, Richard Delgado, and Mar Matsuda, whom I shall call "the trio of voices."