Center on Race, Law and Justice Past Events
The insecurity, instability, and threats to the rights to land and resources held by individuals and communities in South Africa's former homelands unfortunately persists. The dire impact of past colonial and apartheid racist laws and policies has continued, and has been exacerbated by government failure and private individuals, institutions and transnational corporations' failure to respect the validity of these rights, in violation of their constitutional protections.
This Tenure Rights Symposium had three panels, panelists included affected community members, activists, lawyers, and researchers.
Zenande Booi, Executive Director, Center on Race, Law and Justice
Mbhekiseni Mavuso, community activist, Makhasanani Community, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Wilmien Wicomb, Attorney, Legal Resources Centre
Moderator: Nolundi Luyawa, Director, Land and Accountability Research Centre
In this panel the panelists looked at tenure reform in general, with a particular focus on the Interim Protection of Informal Land Rights Act (IPILRA) - the only existing law purporting to recognise and protect customary, traditional and other tenure land rights in South Africa's former Bantustans. The panelists considered the following:
- What is tenure reform and why is it necessary?
- What is IPILRA (history etc) and why has it not been made permanent?
- Where does/would IPILRA (or a permanent tenure reform law) fit into the overall land reform and tenure reform project of the Constitution?
- How does IPILRA ensure a community’s right to consent?
Mmathapelo Thobejane, member of Sekhukune Environmental Justice Network, Limpopo, South Africa
Johan Lorenzen, Attorney, Richard Spoor Attorneys Inc.
Moderator: Wilmien Wicomb, Attorney, Legal Resources Centre
This panel considered how IPILRA/tenure reform laws and existing laws that operate on land regulated by tenure reform laws, and have implications for rights that exist on that land, should interact and how existing laws should be amended to comply with the Constitution and tenure reform laws.
How should IPILRA (or a permanent and comprehensive law protecting these rights) interact with laws that also operate on land in the former homeland areas - including laws such as the Ingonyama Trust Act and the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Act? What issues and challenges does a new legal regime need to take into account to ensure the same gaps as with how IPILRA has been dealt with are not repeated?
Tara Weinberg, PhD candidate in History, Michigan University
Ilanuscka van Neel, Chairperson of Concordia CPA, Namakwaland, South Africa
Moderator: Kholosa Ntombini, PhD candidate in Environmental Geographical Sciences, University of Cape Town
In tenure reform discourse land holding and administration institutions and bodies are an important issue to engage with. Land holding and land administration institutions have been created and empowered by proposed laws like the Communal Land Tenure Bill and existing laws like the Communal Propert Associations Act. They are not dealt with or mentioned at all in the current version of IPILRA (including how the existing rights of people are to be protected in those contexts). Community Property Associations as well as the Ingonyama Trust are examples of institutions created to 'hold' and/or 'administer' people's land. This panel engaged with important questions of land administration related to the recognition and protection of individual rights, and mechanisms of substantive accountability. These are integral issues to ensure clarity in the context of tenure reform. Looking at examples of existing land administration institutions, the speakers will illustrate that we have no real mechanisms of recognizing and protecting people’s rights when land is held by such institutions, we also have no ways for rights holders to hold these institutions to account to protect themselves.
This Tenure Rights Symposium sought to comprehensively engage with some of the central issues that must inform any attempt by the South African government to develop a constitutionally mandated comprehensive legal framework for tenure security and reform in various contexts.
The telling of and engagement with stories of resistance against tyranny and oppression remains integral to the continued fight against inequality and racial discrimination across the world. In this current moment, in which facts are routinely questioned or distorted and history is continuously rewritten for political advantage, important perspectives and narratives—particularly arising out of Black and Brown communities—are becoming increasingly difficult to access. As such, it is essential that we encourage and support the use of interesting and innovative media to make archived and sometimes long-forgotten histories available to the public.
As part of that effort, the Center on Race, Law and Justice together with the NYU Center on Race, Inequality and the Law, invited two authors who have taken up the work of centering uncelebrated narratives of ordinary men and women who stood up to tyranny and oppression, but whose stories you will not find in traditional history books. Their use of graphic novels to tell these stories ensures that the narratives are both compelling and informative, while also remaining accessible to people across disciplines and backgrounds.
The discussion was moderated by Zenande Booi, Executive Director of the Center on Race, Law and Justice; she was joined by Dr. Rebecca Hall, Author, Wake: The Hidden History of Women Led Slave Revolts; Richard Conygham, Author, All Rise: Resistance and Rebellion in South Africa; André Trantraal Illustrator, All Rise: Resistance and Rebellion in South Africa.
This program was put together in conjunction with the NYU Center for Race, Inequality, and the Law - it was this collaboration that made it possible to make a limited number of copies available to attendees.
The Black Lives Matter movement; the events recognizing the 20th anniversary of the seminal Third World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa; and the global outrage at the murder of George Floyd have all contributed to creating momentum that has propelled the UN to renew and refresh its commitment to the fight against racism. To that end, the UN has added new institutional mechanisms that resonate with contemporary voices and approaches.
On the 31st of October, 2022 the UN General Assembly spent the day dealing with the racism item on its agenda. On the 1st of November, we convened a number of UN Independent Experts that deal with race to discuss these important anti-racism mechanisms of the UN. They publicized and reflected on the new anti-racism architecture of the UN human rights ecosystem.
The discussion was moderated by Gay McDougall, Expert Member, the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination; Distinguished Scholar-in-Residence at the Center on Race, Law and Justice and the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice.
The panelists were, Tendayi Achiume, UN Special Rapporteur on Racism; Gaynell Curry, Expert member, UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent; Dominique Day, Expert Member, UN Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent (Chair 2011); Justin Hansford, Expert Member, UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent; Justice Yvonne Mogkoro, former Justice of the Constitutional Court of South Africa; Chair of the UN Expert Mechanism on Racial Justice and Equality in Law Enforcement; and Verene Shepherd, Chair of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
This program was a virtual panel discussion of "Since I Been Down", a riveting, award-winning documentary about the incarceration of teenagers and the injustice of extended prison sentences.
The panel discussion featured:
- Gilda Sheppard, award winning director of Since I Been Down
- Kimonti Carter, who is featured in Since I Been Down and the founder of T.E.A.C.H. (Taking Education and Creating History). He was sentenced to life in prison as a teenager and was recently released after serving over 26 years.
- Jeffrey Ellis, Mr. Carter’s attorney who has represented individuals accused of crimes at trial, on appeal, in state post-conviction, in federal habeas, and in clemency proceedings since 1987.
- The discussion was moderated by Anthony Dixon an award-winning activist and organizer and the Director of Community Engagement at the Parole Preparation Project.
This program was presented by the Center on Race, Law and Justice in conjunction with the Parole Preparation Project and co-sponsored by the Advocates for the Incarcerated (AFTI), Asian Pacific American Law Students Association (APALSA), the Black Law Student Association (BLSA), and the Latin American Law Student Association (LALSA).
The New York City Racial Justice Commission was historic and unprecedented. Chaired by esteemed Fordham Law School alumna, Jennifer Jones Austin ’93, it was the first effort of its kind in the nation. The Commission was tasked with focusing on racial justice and reconciliation, with a mandate to identify and root out structural racism. The Commission put forth three racial justice ballot measures for the November 8, 2022 election in New York City. Included in its was a proposal to establish a Race Equity Office, Plan, and Commission. All the proposals were adopted by an overwhelming majority.
This discussion provided an overview of the New York City Racial Justice Commission and the ballot measure proposals, and then delved more deeply into the proposal to establish a Race Equity Office, Plan, and Commission. The discussion examined how structural racism is embedded in the law and how the legal academe, the legal profession, and the organized bar can advance efforts to dismantle structural racism through statutory and regulatory reforms.
Fordham Law Professor, Center on Race, Law and Justice Associate Faculty Director and critical race relations expert Professor Hernandez's new book Racial Innocence: Unmasking Latino Anti-Black Bias and the Struggle for Equality is the first comprehensive book about anti-Black bias in the Latino community that unpacks the misconception that Latinos are “exempt” from racism due to their ethnicity and multicultural background.
In this Author meets Reader session that kicked off Hispanic Heritage Month, Professor Hernandez was be joined by Associate Human Rights Specialist at the New York City Commission on Human Rights, Abraham Tejeda and Ford Foundation's Senior Program Officer, Juliet Mureriwa in a discussion about her book. The discussion was moderated by the Center on Race, Law and Justice's Associate Faculty Director Professor Kimani Paul-Emile.
The program is presented by the Center on Race, Law and Justice in conjunction with the AfroLatino Forum; Fordham University's Office of Multicultural Affairs and Fordham University's Office of the Chief Diversity Officer. The reception that followed was generously sponsored by Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, and with their support a complementary copy of the book was made available to a limited number of in-person attendees.
In October 2021, the Center on Race, Law, and Justice, and the Stein Center for Law and Ethics held a symposium together with the Fordham Law Review on what it means in the practice of law to be subversive. Practitioners and academics from across disciplines, from housing to criminal justice to legal education, came together to tease out this important question. The result was seven essays that were published in the Fordham Law Review. Some of the participants, and their co-authors, came back to discuss subversive lawyering on a public platform.
The discussion was facilitated by Zenande Booi, the Executive Director of the Center on Race, Law and Justice. She was joined by Zohra Ahmed, Aundray Jermaine Archer, Sarah Medina Camiscol, Daniel Farbman, Christina John, Eloise Lawrence, Russell Pearce, Aron Pines, and Doug Smith.
In his forthcoming book, The Color of Bankruptcy: Financial Failure and Freedom in the Age of American Slavery, Professor Rafael Pardo of Emory Law School explores the history of how antebellum federal bankruptcy law simultaneously suppressed and protected the freedom of Black Americans in a racially capitalist society.
During the event, Professor Pardo discussed his research with Fordham Law Professor Susan Block-Lieb and its implications for issues of financial freedom and race today. Watch the discussion.
What is the American rule of law? Is it a paradigm case of the strong constitutionalism concept of the rule of law or has it fallen short of its rule of law ambitions? The book discussed traces the promise and paradox of the American rule of law in three interwoven ways:
- It focuses on explicating the ideals of the American rule of law by asking: how do we interpret its history and the goals of its constitutional framers to see the rule of law ambitions its foundational institutions express?
- It considers those constitutional institutions as inextricable from the problem of race in the United States and the tensions between the rule of law as a protector of property rights and the rule of law as a restrictor on arbitrary power and a guarantor of legal equality. In that context, it explores the distinctive role of Black liberation movements in developing the American rule of law.
- Finally, it considers the extent to which the American rule of law is compromised at its frontiers, and the extent that those compromises undermine legal protections Americans enjoy in the interior. It asks how America reflects the legal contradictions of capitalism and empire outside its borders, and the impact of those contradictions on its external goals.
Professor Tanya K. Hernandez moderated a conversation between the author Professor Paul Gowder and discussants Zenande Booi, Professor Neil Gotanda, and Professor Brian Z. Tamanaha. Watch full conversation.
Why does a country with religious liberty enmeshed in its legal and social structures produce such overt prejudice and discrimination against Muslims?
Professor Sahar Aziz's groundbreaking book demonstrates how race and religion intersect to create what she calls the Racial Muslim. Comparing discrimination against immigrant Muslims with the prejudicial treatment of Jews, Catholics, Mormons, and African American Muslims during the twentieth century, Aziz explores the gap between American's aspiration for and fulfillment of religious freedom.
With America's demographics rapidly changing from a majority white Protestant nation to a multiracial, multi-religious society, this book is an indispensable read for understanding how our past continues to shape our present—to the detriment of our nation's future.
Professor Tanya K. Hernandez moderated a discussion between the author Professor Sahar Aziz and reader Professor John Tehranian.
In the book From Here to Equality: Reparations for Black Americans in the Twenty First Century, economist William Darity Jr. and co-author A. Kirsten Mullen, make the most comprehensive case to date for economic reparations for U.S. descendants of slavery using innovative methods that link monetary values to historical wrongs and offer a detailed roadmap for an effective reparations program, including a substantial payment to each documented U.S. black descendant of slavery.
In this Author Meets Reader session, the authors were joined by the U.S. Representative to the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, Howard Law School Professor Justin Hanford and Univ. of Toledo Law School Prof. of Law Rebecca Zietlow of the Burlington, Vermont Reparations Taskforce. Professor Tanya Kateri Hernandez served as the moderator.
This Diversity and Inclusion Speaker series event was supported by Perkins Coie LLP and was co-sponsored by The Thurgood Marshall Civil Rights Center at Howard Law School.
With the support of Perkins Coie LLP E-book copies were provided to the attendees.
Subversive Lawyering Colloquium
October 15th and 16th, 2021
The Center on Race, Law, and Justice, along with the Stein Center for Law and Ethics, sponsored a “Subversive Lawyering Colloquium” on October 15th and 16th where scholars such as Paul Butler, Andrew Crespo, Eloise Lawrence, Zohra Ahmed, and Scott Cummings discussed what it means to be a subversive lawyer/law professor, i.e., to seek to disrupt, or even overthrow aspects of the legal system through means that are less than transparent, even transgressive. Essays will soon be published in @FordhamLRev.
In this event, Civil Rights Scholar Professor John Valery White moderated a conversation between between book authors Jasmine Mitchell of "Imagining the Mulatta: Blackness in U.S. and Brazilian Media" (2020), and Center for Race Law and Justice Associate Faculty Director Professor Tanya Katerí Hernández of "Multiracials and Civil Rights: Mixed-Race Stories of Discrimination".
This event was presented in conjunction with Fordham Black Law Student Association, Fordham Latin American Law Student Association, Feerick Center for Social Justice, and Fordham Leitner Center on International Law and Justice.
Who's Afraid of Critical Race Theory?
March 25, 2021
In the waning months of his presidency, Trump banned federal agencies from teaching Critical Race Theory, which he described as “divisive, anti-American propaganda.” And even post-Trump, a group of conservatives has launched a “war” against Critical Race Theory, hoping to “abolish critical race theory programs from American life.” At the same time, however, many law students have been clamoring for more Critical Race Theory, only to face resistance from law schools.
As such, it seemed worth asking again the question Professor Derrick Bell addressed in a lecture in 1995, “Who’s Afraid of Critical Race Theory?” And why?
This panel brought together scholars to introduce audience members to CRT, including the controversy surrounding it, and to talk about the role CRT can play in uprooting inequality.
Professor Tanya K. Hernandez moderated a discussion between panelists Associate Dean Adrien Wing, Professor Gerald Torres, Professor Khiara M. Bridges, Professor Robert Chang, Associate Professor India Thusi.
How Long ‘Til Black Future Month?
February 25, 2021
The election of Kamala Harris as Vice-President has been celebrated as marking a series of firsts: the first woman, first Black American, and the first person of South Asian descent to serve as VicePresident. And of course, before that Barack Obama was celebrated as the country’s first Black president. These are markers of progress, and yet as Covid-19 has put in sharp focus that, unequal racial outcomes persist. Indeed, Black men in the U.S. earn 51 cents on average for every $1 earned by white men, the same as in 1950. So what does the future hold for Black people, especially given that this country is projected to tip from being majority-white to majority-minority by 2044? And what role can law—and lawyers—play in shaping that future?
In this event the Center's Faculty Director Professor Bennett Capers facilitates a discussion with Professor Kendall Thomas, Professor Deborah N. Archer, Associate Professor Ifeoma Ajunwa, Assistant Professor Kimberly Bain on the Black future.
In the wake of the 2020 Black Lives Matters protests in the United States, the 2021 Fordham
International Law Journal Symposium topic will focus on the manifestation of the Black Lives
Matter movement and the issue of racial and ethnic discrimination around the globe.
Panelists included judges, scholars, and activists within and outside of the Fordham community with expertise in civil and human rights issues in an international context.
The event was presented in conjunction with the International Law Journal and the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice.
#FreeTheHair: How Black Hair is Transforming Civil Rights Laws and Movements
October 14, 2020
One of the world’s leading legal experts on “grooming codes discrimination,” and Founder of the #FreeTheHair campaign, Professor Wendy Greene will discussed her legal scholarship and public advocacy combating race-based discrimination African descendants suffer when they don natural hairstyles like twists, braids, afros, and locs with Professor Tanya K. Hernandez.
Professor Greene also explored landmark U.S. legal reforms her scholarly activism is shaping, such as the C.R.O.W.N. Acts (Creating a Respectful and Open Workplace/World Acts), which redress this systematic form of racial discrimination and are transforming civil laws and discourse globally.
This event was presented in conjunction with in conjunction with The Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, Fordham Black Law Students Association and Fordham Latin American Law Students Association.
Unfinished Work: Black Lives Matter and Policing after the Protests
October 10, 2020
Black Lives Matter May Be the Largest Movement in U.S. History.” So ran a New York Times headline in early July 2020 when the domestic and international protests following the police killing of George Floyd were still ubiquitous. But what happens after the protests? What kind of reforms to policing are possible? Are we talking abolition? Or defunding? Or ending qualified immunity? Or are we talking about more modest—and some would say realistic—reforms?
Professor Bennett Capers moderated this conversation on the current state of policing, racism in police departments, and the potential for paths forward. Panelists taking part in this discussion were Associate Professor Alexis Hoag, Professor Tracey Meares, Adjunct Professor Kenneth Montgomery, Esq., and Benjamin Tucker, the first Deputy Commissioner of the NYPD.
The event was presented together with the Leitner Center for International Law and Justice, the Black Law Students Association, and the Latin American Law Students Association.
Voting Rights and Discrimination – Insights from the Book “Whitelash: Unmasking White Grievance at the Ballot Box”
September 23, 2020
If postmortems of the 2016 US presidential election tell us anything, it’s that many voters discriminate on the basis of race, which raises an important question: in a society that outlaws racial discrimination in employment, housing, and jury selections, should voters be permitted to racially discriminate in selecting a candidate for public office?
In the book Whitelash: Unmasking White Grievance At The Ballot Box, Terry Smith argues that such racialized decision-making is unlawful and that remedies exist to deter this reactionary behavior. Using evidence of race-based voting in the 2016 presidential election, Smith deploys legal analogies to demonstrate how courts can decipher when groups of voters have been impermissibly influenced by race, and impose appropriate remedies. This groundbreaking work should be read by anyone interested in how the legal system can re-direct American democracy away from the ongoing electoral scourge that many feared 2016 portended.
At this event experts in voting rights, employment law, and political science discussed the insights from Whitelash and what it means for Voting Rights Law and the coming election.
In honor of the late Terry Smith, free copies of Whitelash were provided to a select number of student attendees. This event was presented in conjunction with This program is presented in conjunction with the Fordham Law Advocates for Voting Rights (FLAVR), Fordham Law School's Black Law Students Association (BLSA), Fordham Law School's Latin American Law Students Association (LALSA) and the Fordham Leitner Center for International Law and Justice.
Inclusive Workplaces Best Practices: Implicit Bias and #MeToo Racial Blindspots Webinar
July 15, 2020
This Diversity, Inclusion & Elimination of Bias CLE will share the insights of corporate lawyers, litigators and law professors regarding Best Practices for effective pursuit of diversity and inclusion equity. The CLE will explain unconscious bias, explore important advantages that workplace diversity can provide to an organization and its stakeholders, and address strategies to address unconscious bias and the racial blindspots lessons learned from #MeToo to achieve an inclusive and more productive workplace.
Speakers included Jennifer K. Grady, Managing Partner, Richards Kibbe & Orbe; Professor Tanya K. Hernández, Archibald R. Murray Professor of Law, Fordham Law School; Margaret W. Meyers, Partner, Richards Kibbe & Orbe; amd James Q. Walker, Partner, Richards Kibbe & Orbe.
Black Lives Matter: Racism in America and its Implications for Africa
June 29, 2020
The panel discussion was moderated by Dean Kofi Abotsi the Dean of the Faculty of Law at University of Professional Studies, Accra, Ghana. The panel included Sheila Foster, professor of law and public policy at Georgetown Law School and the McCourt School of Public Policy; Bennett I. Capers, director of Fordham Law’s Center on Race, Law and Justice; Gay McDougall, distinguished scholar in residence at the Leitner Center and the Center on Race, Law and Justice; and Honorable Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga, former chief justice and president of the Supreme Court of Kenya.
Black Lives Matter and the Criminal (In)Justice System: A Conversation with the Bench
June 17, 2020
The panel included Judge Theodore A. McKee, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; The Hon. Justice Dr. Willie Mutunga (Ret.), Former Chief Justice of Kenya and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya; and Judge Ann Clare Williams (Ret.), a trailblazer and leader, heads Jones Day’s efforts in advancing the rule of law in Africa. Professor Gemma Solimene, Clinical Associate Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law, moderated the discussion.