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Hastings Law Journal

Abstract

The relatively recent development of jurisprudence and pedagogy in the areas of critical legal studies, feminism, and critical race theory presents significant opportunities for progressive practitioners and activists. In certain respects, the relationship between these emerging theories and practice is necessarily dialogic and interdependent: progressive lawyers and activists are recognizing with increasing frequency the extent to which creative and compassionate commitment to their work can engender valuable new visions of practice and pedagogy; critical scholars and teachers, in turn, are growing both more cognizant of and more explicit about the nexus between their work and lawyering for social change. Beyond this shared commitment to political and social transformation, however, much work remains to be done-not only to forge connections between theory and practice, but also to evaluate honestly the extent to which any of our efforts meaningfully affect the "situation of our people."

In her Essay, Professor Russell explores one aspect of the emerging "outsider's jurisprudence" that is useful in accomplishing the aforementioned goals of theoretical understanding and instrumental change: the identification and deconstruction of ostensibly "neutral" institutional practices that operate not only to exclude and stigmatize racial minorities, but also to foster divisions between people of color and whites. She discusses these points in the specific context of a serious problem currently confronting communities and young people of color throughout this country-the increasing use of racially and ethnically patterned "gang profiles" by business, educational, and law enforcement authorities to screen out "undesirable" or "dangerous" individuals. The emerging integration of progressive theory and practice, Professor Russell concludes, offers unique promise for the amelioration of the desperate plight of victims of racism.

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