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Open Access Publications from the University of California

National Black Law Journal

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The National Black Law Journal (NBLJ) has been committed to scholarly discourse exploring the intersection of race and the law since 1970, when the NBLJ was started by five African-American law students and two African-American law professors. The Journal was the first of its kind in the United States.

National Black Law Journal


Could the State Takeover of Public Schools Create a State-Created Danger? Theorizing at the Intersection of State Takeover Districts, the School-to-Prison Pipeline, and Racial Oppression

Federal courts have consistently rejected plaintiffs’ arguments that the government is liable when citizens suffer injuries at the hands of private third parties.  In the context of education, there are few cases where federal courts have held that schools are liable for the injuries that students incur at the hands of private third parties.  This Article puts forth a theoretical argument for schools, specifically schools operating under the governance of a state takeover district in a predominately Black school district with a predominately Black-elected school board, to be held liable for participating in disciplinary practices that are linked to the school-to-prison pipeline.  The Article first traces the roots of the State-Created Danger Doctrine and then discusses the role of education reform policies in enabling the school-to-prison pipeline.  Next, the Article provides a statistical analysis of three case studies in state takeover districts (Detroit, Memphis, and New Orleans).  My research found no instances where the state takeover district disrupted the school-to-prison pipeline, but I discovered multiple instances where state takeover districts have exacerbated the school-to-prison pipeline.  In this Article I argue that there is hope in the Sixth Circuit (Detroit and Memphis) for the use of the State-Created Danger Doctrine, which grows out of the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause, to mitigate the school-to-prison pipeline.  However, the Fifth Circuit (New Orleans) appears to have foreclosed legal causes of action based on the State-Created Danger Doctrine.  Finally, this Article provides a critical race critique of the school-to-prison pipeline and the few tools that Black people have to combat this form of racial subjugation in light of education reform policies.


Annalise Keating's Portrayal as a Black Attorney is the Real Scandal: Examining How the Use of Stereotypical Depictions of Black Women can Lead to the Formation of Implicit Biases

Law firms are struggling to increase the representation and retention of Black women, and Black women have reported feeling excluded, invisible, and a lack of support within law firms. In this Comment, I posit that ABC’s hit show “How to Get Away with Murder” over relies on traditional negative stereotypes about Black women. Annalise Keating, the show’s lead character, conforms to the stereotypes of the Jezebel, the Mammy, and the Angry Black Woman.  Further, Keating’s representation as a Black female attorney is uniquely significant because historically Black women have done very little lawyering on the television screen. Thus, Keating’s representation as a Black female attorney on a show that has garnered upwards of twenty million viewers in a single episode is extremely influential, as it can have the effect of shaping audiences’ perceptions about Black women in the legal profession. As a result, I argue that the show’s negative depiction of Keating as a Black female attorney can lead to the formation of implicit biases about Black female attorneys, and may contribute to why Black women are having a difficult time excelling in law firms, which are 92.75 percent White.