Yale Law, Counter Mapping, Biased Reading Lists

October 10, 2018

Some students at Yale Law School are questioning whether their institution is living up to its professed liberal values. Recent controversies—like a white student calling the cops on a Black student studying, a professor allegedly telling female students to project “model-like femininity” in order to clerk for Judge Kavanaugh, and the sexual assault allegations against Yale alum Kavanaugh and others—have shaken students into action. These students are now grappling with the very nature of the degree they’re pursuing: they’re there to receive a high-quality education, but also for the opportunity to connect with those in top legislative positions. Can these students continue to pursue a degree that grants them exclusive power while also challenging the source of that power? In response to the student protests, Dean Heather Gerken said, “Our students are calling upon the best values of this institution, and we are listening carefully. This is a moment of reflection for this institution, and we will do our best to answer our students’ call and work in partnership to make sure we live up to those values.”

Can Yale Law Students Dismantle Their Own Privilege?, by John Warner for Inside Higher Ed

The maps used by the A:shiwi, or Zuni, tribe of New Mexico “depict petroglyph carvings, images from prayers and songs, colorful stacks of pottery, arroyos and mesas.” The A:shiwi understand the land through natural landmarks and have named the land according to its purpose and value—“Bear Spring,” for example. But ever since the United States deemed A:shiwi land a reservation in 1877, those ancestral ways of knowing have been overshadowed by Western notions, like understanding the land strictly from an aerial view, with arbitrary names like “Service Route 2” or “State Highway 53.” That’s why Jim Enote, an A:shiwi farmer and director of the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center, is embarking on a counter-mapping art project. He is collecting hand-crafted maps from local A:shiwi people that demonstrate the tribe’s deeply rooted knowledge of the land, which dates back thousands of years. Through the project, Enote hopes to reconcile opposing but simultaneous truths: while breakthroughs in modern science and technology are clearly advantageous, they are also undeniably tied to colonialism and ignore a “collective memory about being part of a greater and more ancient process.”

Counter Mapping by Adam Loften & Emmanuel Vaughan-Lee for Emergence Magazine

A new report from the Coalition for Educational Justice shows that even though student enrollment in New York City public schools is only 15% white, about 90% of books used in the city schools are written by white authors. Coalition Coordinator Natasha Capers reflects on how this statistic affects students of color, 41% of whom are Latinx, 26% of whom are Black, and 16% of whom are Asian: “Positive representation matters, because seeing yourself allows you to think about who you can become in your future…If the stories and the authors do not reflect the student population, how do we expect students to stay grounded in what they’re learning?” While educational publishers Pearson and Scholastic maintain that the curriculum complies with educational standards set forth by the state and city and that the coalition’s report “does not reflect the variety of ways [the publisher] supports city schools,” the Coalition for Educational Justice is planning a rally in hopes of getting the Education Department to “rethink what’s being taught in city classrooms…and look at how we can craft curriculum in a more diverse and inclusive way.”

Schools’ reading lists biased against authors & characters of color: report, by Ben Chapman of The Daily News