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Law, Race and Equity Research and Resources

USC Gould School of Law

USC Gould School of Law is committed to advancing justice, affirming the dignity and equality of all persons, and rejecting racism and bigotry in all its forms.

Faculty, staff and students are taking steps to acknowledge and combat the inherent racism of our legal system, and to ensure the law school, the legal profession and our justice system are more representative of, and accessible to, individuals who identify as Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC). Below are some of the ways we are taking action in and outside of our community.

Research & Contributions

Several of our faculty have devoted their careers to studying the intersection of law and systemic racism - and its many branching pathways, including racial politics, voter disenfranchisement, policy brutality, bias in criminal justice, and the history of how we got to where we are today. In addition, they use their voices and expertise to give informed context to current events - making daily headlines.


Books, Articles & Op-Eds

N*gga Theory: Race, Language, Unequal Justice, and the Law (2020, LARB Books) - Professor Jody David Armour calls for bold action: electing progressive prosecutors, defunding or dismantling the police, and abolition of the prison industrial complex.


Democracy As A Slogan (2010, American Constitution Society) - Professor Franita Tolson discusses the sometimes fleeting commitment to democracy demonstrated by the U.S. throughout its history.


Congress Has Constitutional Power to Set National Police Conduct Standards (2020, Bloomberg Law) - Professor Rebecca Brown and Lecturer Omar Noureldin call for Congress to pass legislation creating federal oversight over local police.


A Grassroots History of Colorblind Conservative Constitutionalism (2019, Law & Social Inquiry) - Professor Ariela Gross argues that colorblind conservative constitutionalism has its roots not only in Supreme Court jurisprudence and the machinations of national political actors, but also in the deliberate campaigns of opponents of integration at the grassroots.


Where Bias Lives in the Criminal Law and its Processes: How Judges and Jurors Socially Construct Black Criminals (2018, American Journal of Criminal Law) - Professor Jody David Armour focuses on how flawed judgments about character contribute to fundamental problems in the American criminal justice system.


The Dynamics of Excessive Force (2016, University of Chicago Legal Forum) - Professor Daria Roithmayr argues that patterns of excessive force dynamically emerge from local interactions among individuals that aggregate to form more global patterns of escalation, contagion, and decay.


Nigga Theory: Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity in the Substantive Criminal Law (2014, Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law) - Professor Jody David Armour probes the intersection of morality, race, and class in matters of blame and punishment and politics.


Angela Harris and the Racial Politics of Masculinity (2014, California Law Review) - Professor Camille Gear Rich gives a new take on how race and gender intersect in policing cases, and how threats to masculinity drive police violence separate from racism and the ways racial identity issues intersect with race.


Inferred Classifications (2013, Virginia Law Review ) - Professor Stephen M. Rich discusses a fundamental problem in constitutional law: that equal protection doctrine commands strict scrutiny of all racial classifications but does not specify what constitutes a racial classification.


Race Ipsa Loquitur: Of Reasonable Racists, Intelligent Bayesians, and Involuntary Negrophobes (1994, Stanford Law Review) - Professor Jody David Armour explores some of the legal implications of the disturbing notion that, given the perception that blacks are more prone to commit violent acts than nonblacks, it is rational for criminal defendants claiming self-defense to consider race in assessing the risk of violence posed by a supposed assailant.

Videos & Podcasts

Is voting enough? (2020, Free and Fair with Franita and Foley) - In response to the Black Lives Matter protests, some are calling for people of color to "just vote." But in a country with a history of voter suppression and disenfranchisement, is voting enough? Professor Franita Tolson responds to the hypocrisy of this suggestion and discusses racial equality as an ongoing commitment.


The Truth of Being Black in America (2020, USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences) - Professor Jody David Armour joins experts and activists to discuss the ways the health and lives of some Americans are in jeopardy simply because they're black.


Black History Month: Discussions on Race, Media and the Law (2020, USC Facebook Live) - Professor Jody David Armour and USC Annenberg Assistant Professor Allissa V. Richardson discuss the intersections of journalism and justice regarding race in America.


Reflecting on the Legacy of MLK Jr., Equity & Inclusion in Today's America (2020, USC Facebook Live) - Professor Camille Gear Rich and USC Race and Equity Center's Dr. Shaun R. Harper discuss the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. and the challenges we still face today.


Speaking Out Loud: Enough is Enough (2020, Center for Black Cultural and Student Affairs) - Black USC students, staff, faculty and allies to decompress and discuss anti-blackness and systemic issues that plague the pan-African community in America.


The Time is Now: Rooting Out Racism (2020, NBCLA Virtual Town Hall) - NBCLA's Beverly White brings together some of the leading voices, including USC Gould Professor Jody David Armour, fighting for real reform and solutions in the battle against racism.


Understanding Black Lives Matter (reposted 2020, The Kyle Thiermann Show) - Professor Jody David Armour discusses Black Lives Matter with Kyle Thiermann.


Beating Mental Illness: A Dialogue on Race, Gender, and Disability in Use of Force Cases (2016, USC Gould Saks Institute for Mental Health Law, Policy, and Ethics) - Video playlist from 2016 conference featuring Black Lives Matter organizers, cross-disciplinary academic experts, activists, and representatives of ACLU, Los Angeles Police Department.

Library Resources

The Asa V. Call Law Library at USC Gould has compiled a comprehensive list of anti-racism readings and other information that is available on its website.

On-the-Ground Lawyering

Both classroom education and experiential learning at USC Gould teach students to be advocates for justice. In clinics like the Post-Conviction Justice Project and Immigration Clinic, students represent clients and help draft legislation to offset the the disproportional impact punitive laws have on communities of color.

University Initiatives & Resources

The university offers many centers, organizations and institutes to further research and community engagement in racial justice and equity.

Center for Education, Identity and Social Justice

The Center for Education, Identity and Social Justice at the USC Rossier School of Education uses rigorous research and legal analysis to empower educators to utilize laws and policies in order to identify and extricate bias and unequal distributions of power within educational institutions.


Department of Public Safety Community Advisory Board

The community advisory board for the USC Department of Public Safety plays a vital role in helping strengthen trust between the university, DPS and the broader community. It also represents a key component of USC's renewed efforts to remedy broader social inequalities. USC Gould professors Jody Armour, Rebecca Lonergan and Robert Saltzman serve on the board.


PRYSM: Initiative for the Study of Race, Gender, Sexuality and the Law

PRYSM is a multidisciplinary institute organized to facilitate and support USC scholars' research on race, gender, sexuality and the law. It is founded and directed by Camille Gear Rich, associate provost for faculty and student initiatives in the social sciences, and professor of law and sociology at USC Gould.


USC Race and Equity Center

The USC Race and Equity Center helps partners strategically develop and achieve equity goals, better understand and correct climate problems, avoid and recover from racial crises, and cultivate sustainable cultures of inclusion and respect.


USC Student Equity and Inclusion Programs

USC Student Equity and Inclusion Programs include services and programs that focus on intersectionality, sense of belonging and well-being.