A Perilous Path: Talking Race, Inequality, and the Law

In 2017, the New York University School of Law launched the Center on Race, Inequality and the Law, to create a home for scholars who study the complicated relationship between racial politics and legal structures in the U.S. To mark the center's inception, faculty director Anthony C. Thompson gathered a panel of brilliant African American thinkers and activists: NAACP Legal Defense Fund president Sherrilyn Ifill, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and NYU professor Bryan Stevenson. They held a candid conversation on systemic racism in the U.S, and A Perilous Path is the book that resulted from this sharp, insightful discussion, moderated by Thompson.

The panelists cover a range of topics: education, immigration, public housing, community policing, the gains of the civil rights movement, the benefits and backlash that resulted from the presidency of Barack Obama. They discuss public housing, the privatization of infrastructure and the necessity of using legal expertise to push for greater equality. Emphasis is placed on the importance of winning the "narrative battle": creating a culture that acknowledges the legacy of slavery and racism, while arguing for the inherent worth of every person. "I want to deal with this smog created by our history of racial inequality, so we can all breathe something healthy," Stevenson says. The conversation is sobering, but not without hope: indeed, as Stevenson asserts, "injustice prevails where hopelessness persists." In today's fraught moment, voices like these--undergirded by decades of scholarship, activism and deep personal experience--are more necessary than ever. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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