attended law school in 1984, I was the only black student in the
first year class. Everywhere I looked, there was a sea of white
faces. The stress of law school was significant; the stress of
being the only black person became unbearable at times. At one
point, I had a most difficult day:
- a day when I had to listen to young white students loudly discuss
the inherent unfairness of affirmative action a hundred times;
-a day when my constitutional law professor decided to teach about
hate crimes and used a situation involving the word "nigger" as an
-a day when the contract professor used a case where a "welfare
mother" had her furniture repossessed and, as a current "welfare
mother," I was positive that all eyes had turned to me.
-a day when a case in criminal law mentioned race for the first
time, and it was a black man raping a white woman.
-a day when so many racialized things happened.
-a day not much different than many other days, but I suddenly found
the sea of whiteness unbearable. I wanted to get away, but I
couldn't because I had a class. I wanted to cry, but where could I
get some privacy? I remember this day so clearly, because I ended
up in a bathroom stall crying my eyes out!
schools, for the most part, are vast seas of whiteness that
contribute to the legal profession becoming more white than the
It is a whiteness that is
dangerous, not just to the mental health of individuals of color but
also to our society. It is an overwhelming display of power and
control that maintains a white predominance that is unearned and
The Census Bureau recently released information that predicts we
will be a nation of minorities by the year 2050. According to the
Census Bureau, white non-Latinos will make up 50 percent of the
population; Latinos, 24 percent; African Americans, 15 percent; and
Asian Americans, 8 percent. While there are a number of problems
with these statistics, including that 50% is still a majority, I
will accept this often cited mantra for the purpose of this
discussion. People refer to “a nation of minorities" with wonder,
with expectation, and with some amount of anxiousness. News anchors
may comment on it, but no one takes the next step to ask, So what?
So what if we will be a nation of minorities?
Are we going to be a nation in which no group has a disproportionate
share of wealth and power, or will we be a de facto apartheid South
Africa? Like South Africa, will the wealth and power of a nation be
centered in a numerical minority? Will the numerical minority
become even more oppressive in order to maintain its position and
How will we be a truly represented nation in 2050, if we don't begin
to transfer power and wealth now?
One place to start preparing for the future is through our law
school admission patterns. If law schools continue to be a sea of
whiteness, then the power and wealth of this society will also
continue to be white. The power brokers of tomorrow are the law
students of today and right now.
whiteness is blinding!