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Harvard Law School

Harvard Law Students Stand In Solidarity Against Racism

A group of Harvard Law students have published a letter in the Harvard Law Review to stand in solidarity with Stanford Law students following incidents of racism at the campus last fall.
The Harvard Crimson reports that 12 Harvard Law students published the letter arguing that Harvard Law also struggles with racism.
“As fellow students of color at Harvard Law School, we stand in solidarity with people of color in all spaces who experience marginalization because of their identities,” the letter reads. “We stand in solidarity with students, faculty, and staff of color at Stanford, Harvard, UC Hastings, and other law schools by wearing pink colored armbands this week to highlight overt and micro-aggressive acts of intersecting ‘-isms’ of subordination on campus. Above all, this week we amplify the voices of students who anonymously submitted statements about their experiences at HLS.”
Opening a Conversation
The hope of the letter is to open a conversation about “-isms” of subordination and how Harvard’s community, as a whole, contributes to them. In their letter, the students included a number of statements heard among campus that illustrate racist prejudice in the community.
“The school should hire workers who can actually speak English,” one statement reads.
Statements like these have been printed out and posted around the law school’s campus as a way to highlight that racism is alive at Harvard Law.
Marcia L. Sells, dean of students at Harvard Law School, tells The Harvard Crimson that the administration takes the issue of racism seriously. In response to criticisms about Harvard’s financial aid and public interest programs, Sells says the school is looking further at the Loan Income Protection Plan.
Critical Race Theory
The writers also mention that Harvard Law’s first year curriculum “lacks necessary insight into the racial historical realities of the law, which prohibits us from effectively serving in communities of color.” The letter highlights Critical Race Theory (CRT) as a possible strategy to address the problem of racism among campus. CRT, which was conceptualized by a Harvard Law alumnus, encourages law students to “consider the racial biases inherent to judicial decision-making.” The writers argue that Harvard Law needs to have a commitment to CRT in order to equip its students with the proper knowledge and skills needed to address the issue of racism.
Felipe D. Hernandez is one of the 12 students who participated in writing the letter. Other students chose to remain anonymous. In an interview with The Harvard Crimson, Hernandez says students chose to remain anonymous to preserve their relationship with administrators.
“People are organizing different things on campus and so they are still developing their relationships with the admin so we’re always careful about releasing anyone’s name tied to any particular event or organizing because that’s how institutions of power have traditionally used that method to identify activists and activism,” Hernandez tells The Harvard Crimson.
Sources: The Harvard Crimson, Harvard Law Review

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