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Message from Faculty Signatories: Open Letter to USC Gould Students and Alumni

Monday, June 8, 2020

Open Letter to Our Students and Alumni

A law school has a special obligation to stand up when injustice and abuse of law are at the heart of a national crisis. In recognition of that special obligation, we reach out to you, our students and alumni, to express our support for the protests against racism in the law and its enforcement. We have a deep concern for you as individuals and as lawyers and future lawyers, as you are experiencing the protests against the killing of George Floyd under color of law, and the all too frequent assaults against Americans of color it represents. We acknowledge, in particular, the distinct impact that these events may have on our students and alumni of color. Our letter is also a call to action for all of us privileged to be lawyers and future lawyers to use our training, our talents and our resources to contribute to the reform of our civil institutions, including universities such as ours, so as, ultimately, to eradicate the structural anti-Black racism that pervades society.
 
No one can study law or teach law and not notice the outsized role that racial injustice and violent racism have played and continue to play in our history, our culture, and the evolution of our legal institutions. Taking the pedagogical role seriously often requires law faculty in every subject to make the searing choice whether to include the most explicitly racist examples in our syllabi so as not to allow them to be forgotten, or rather to focus on more inspiring moments of progress in our legal history. However we decide to handle that duality when we teach, there is no escaping the intimate intertwining of law and racism.
 
We choose to acknowledge that painful reality and take it head on. America as a whole, and we as law professors, can no longer gloss over the ugly truth of racism in our law, no longer point to our constitutional system as invariably a guarantee of liberty and equality, as it is lived. Rather, we must courageously affirm that the ideal of liberty and equality is only a distant aspiration for Black Americans.
 
As lawyers we can all be the “first responders” to attend to those who suffer race-based injustice and to the system that imposes it. Thus, we call on our Gould community to do whatever each of us can do, by way of teaching and learning about racism unflinchingly, offering legal services, participating in protests, supporting anti-racism causes, engaging in politics, offering informed voices to public discourse—whatever we can do to assist the cause of justice to which we are professionally sworn. No one is better equipped than you are to make a difference. And in those efforts, we, your faculty, pledge to join you. We stand with you.
 
June 8, 2020
 
Signatories:
Scott Altman
Pauline Aranas
Jody D. Armour
Jonathan Barnett
Scott Bice
Rebecca L. Brown
Alexander M. Capron
Elizabeth Carroll
Michael A. Chasalow
Catherine H. Coleman
David B. Cruz
Judy Davis
Sam Erman
Susan R. Estrich
Edward Finegan
Niels Frenzen
Ronald R. Garet
Hannah Garry
Thomas D. Griffith
Ariela J. Gross
Sofia Gruskin
Cindy Guyer
Andrew T. Guzman
Erik Hovenkamp
Diana C. Jaque
Felipe Jiménez
Kyle Jones
Gregory C. Keating
Edward D. Kleinbard
Daniel M. Klerman
Lisa Klerman
Martin Levine
Rebecca Lonergan
Dorothy S. Lund
Thomas D. Lyon
Edward J. McCaffery
Paul Moorman
Clare Pastore
Jef Pearlman
Brian Peck
Marcela Prieto
Brian Raphael
Robert K. Rasmussen
Jean Reisz
Alison Dundes Renteln
Camille Gear Rich
Stephen M. Rich
Laura Riley
Daria Roithmayr
Heidi Rummel
Emily Ryo
Elyn R. Saks
Rob Saltzman
Hilary Schor
Donald M. Scotten
Michael H. Shapiro
Dan Simon
Karen Skinner
Nomi Stolzenberg
Franita Tolson
Abby K. Wood
Susan C. Wright
 

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