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Clarkson Chair Planning Research Guide: 2016-2017 Clarkson Chair: John Powell

Readings on Race and Social Justice

Articles: Powell, John A. "Constitutionalism and the Extreme Poor: Neo-Dred Scott and the Contemporary "Discrete and Insular Minorities." Drake Law Review 60, no. 4 (Summer 2012): 1069-1084. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed November 21, 2016).

"This symposium issue addresses a range of questions concerning the Constitution and the poor. In this Essay, I will share some initial thoughts responsive to what has already been presented in this issue of the Drake Law Review and what was discussed during the symposium, and then I will turn to the question at hand and attempt to introduce a few new ideas into the discussion."" - Powell "

Powell, John A.; Mendendian, Stephen. "Beyond Public/Private: Understanding Excessive Corporate Prerogative." Kentucky Law Journal 100.1 (2011): 43-124.

"In this article, we suggest that an unreflective public/private discourse in law and popular culture has smuggled through excessive corporate prerogatives. We illustrate how the public/private distinction has been used as a sword to create and expand corporate power and influence, and as a shield to protect corporate prerogatives from government regulation by disclaiming or circumscribing an appropriate government role in the market at all. This article makes the case against excessive corporate prerogative by revealing ways in which the exercise of corporate power to protect and relentlessly pursue corporate interests subverts our democracy with harmful consequences for democratic accountability, civil rights, human rights, the economy, the environment, privacy, individual freedom and the nation's welfare." - Pg. 45

Powell, John A.; Watt, Caitlin. "Negotiating the New Political and Racial Environment." Journal of Law in Society 11.1 and 2 (2009): 31-69.

"In this paper, we will first detail the ways in which the structures in this country have created and fostered racial divisions. Next, we will show how the same structures fostered racial resentment and diminished community. We will explain how advances in mind sciences have refuted the idea that we are individual, rational agents, and explain the way that mind sciences can open us up to insights on the ways we do race. Then, we will talk about the ways that systems and structures operate to keep this system of racial division in place, despite the absence of intentional racism. Finally, we will suggest a targeted universalist approach to creating equality and breaking down the structures that our biases built up." - Pg. 32

Powell, John A.; Reece, Jason. "The Future of Fair Housing and Fair Credit: From Crisis to Opportunity." Cleveland State Law Review 57.2 (2009): 209-244.

"The following paper provides an assessment of the current housing and credit crisis from a racial justice lens. The paper explores how race was interwoven into the current crisis and demonstrates the racialized impacts of the housing and credit crisis. We also explore some of the current challenges facing fair housing in our society, presenting concepts and models of reform to promote true integration with opportunity. We close with a new paradigm for addressing fair housing in the future and utilizing the opportunities presented by this crisis to produce a fair housing opportunity and a just society for all. " - Pg. 212

Powell, John A. "Post-Racialism or Targeted Universalism." Denver University Law Review 86.3 (2009): 785-806.

"In exploring this set of questions, I employ a different terminology than what is normally used to discuss this issue. Instead of using the standard nomenclature of race and racism, I will use the term "racialization." I do so because the language of race and racism is understood in a way that is too limited and specific to help us acquire greater insight into the important questions posed at the outset. By racialization, I refer to the set of practices, cultural norms, and institutional arrangements that are both reflective of and simultaneously help to create and maintain racialized outcomes in society. Because racialization is a historical and cultural set of processes, it does not have one meaning." - Pg.785

Powell, John A. "Reflections on the past, looking to the future: The fair housing act at 40." Journal of Affordable Housing & Community Development Law 18 (2) (2009): 145-68.

"Every ten years, dutiful law review editors across the nation call upon commentators and scholars to reflect upon the state of housing in the US. Among all of the commemorative scholarship in the area of civil rights, perhaps none can be as somber or dispiriting as the state of fair housing. If not for the tragic events of April 4, 1968, it is uncertain that the Fair Housing Act would have passed. The Fair Housing Act was conceived under a set of conditions very different from the ones everyone practice in today: a predominately production-oriented subsidized housing market, a clear city-suburban quality-of-life dichotomy, and a simplified mortgage market pre-securitization (and internationalization). The Fair Housing Act was far more than a narrow antidiscrimination measure. The Act targeted false advertising, unfair terms, false representations, and, further, required government actors to affirmatively further fair housing mandates." - ProQuest

Powell, John A. "Structural Racism: Building upon the Insights of John Calmore." North Carolina Law Review 86.3 (2008): 791-816.

"Structural racism or racialization emphasizes the interaction of multiple institutions in an ongoing process of producing racialized outcomes. Research in the field of dynamic and complex systems theory teaches that structures matter. The structure of a system gives rise to its behavior. A systems approach helps illuminate the ways in which individual and institutional behavior interact across domains and over time to produce unintended consequences with clear racialized effects. Research in cognitive psychology demonstrates how subconscious attitudes can produce discriminatory decision without conscious awareness. The individualistic anti-discrimination approach to addressing racism will have great difficulty interrupting these processes." - Pg.791

Powell, John A. "The Race and Class Nexus: An Intersectional Perspective." Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice 25.2 (2007): 355-428.

"Public opposition to race-based affirmative action is justified in part by class assertion. Others have argued that we should pursue class based integration and drop the call for racial integration of K-12. This debate is so familiar that we seldom linger to ask: "What is race and class? Further, we fail to reflect on how they have influenced each other's development in America. The answer affects the way we carry out social policy, make law, and create meaning. Uncovering the influence and interrelationship of race and class is the aim of this Article. Most importantly, this Article argues that the development of a socially-inclusive agenda must account for race, class, and their interrelationship. There is a prevailing assumption in liberal discourse that race and class are analytically separable and that is would be a wiser course, as a matter of strategy, to address racial disparities through class-based measures. Liberals worry that a focus on race will quickly degenerate into a narrow form of balkanization and identity politics, alienating potential allies and population segments that might be receptive to a progressive message. This Article asserts that these assumptions are wrong analytically, historically, and strategically." - Pg. 356

Wiley, Maya; Powell, John A. "Tearing Down Structural Racism and Rebuilding Communities." Clearinghouse Review 40.1 (2006): 68-81.

"We argue that the story of the declining middle class, white privilege (however fragile), and structural racism are cut from the same cloth. While structural racism creates and distributes harsher burdens and fewer benefits to people of color, it limits us all. Indeed racialized meaning obscures the real culprit in the Gulf Coast tragedy-our failure to support levees and other urban infrastructure. We must use a structural- racism lens to understand inequity and poverty and to develop meaningful policies to end both. This lens creates policy possibilities for a rebuilt Gulf Coast and suggests additional approaches for lawyers and other advocates to eradicate racial disparity and poverty." - Pg. 69

Powell, John A. "Dreaming of a Self beyond Whiteness and Isolation." Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 18 (2005): 13-46.

"In this article I want to engage racial boundaries and social boundaries in general. I want to poke them, prod them, and examine how these boundaries are constructed—not only in the structures and arrangements of our society, but within our processes of self-identification. I want to look at how we create these boundaries, and how they, in turn, create us. I assert that these external boundaries and manifestations of whiteness and internal white identity are linked at a deep level and that a better understanding of this relationship helps to explain why whiteness and racial hierarchy are still reproduced across all of our spaces from the most public to a space as private as our dreams." - Pg.15

Powell, John A. "The Needs of Members in a Legitimate Democratic State." Santa Clara Law Review 44.4 (2004): 969-998.

"This symposium focuses on the needs of workers and whether the state is meeting those needs in the areas of bankruptcy, unemployment, and welfare. All of these areas are important in their own right, yet together they suggest a more comprehensive look at the welfare state and the role it does and should play in addressing the needs of its members. One could argue that other critical areas have been excluded, such as health care, education, and housing. In fact, it would be difficult to come up with a comprehensive list that would adequately define the needs of members. The reason for this will become clear in my article below. Instead of trying to supplement this list, I will try to develop a larger context in which to think about how we should proceed in meeting the needs of members of our democratic state and the appropriate role of government." - Pg. 969

Powell, John A. "Lessons from Suffering: How Social Justice Informs Spirituality." University of St. Thomas Law Journal 1.1 (2003): 102-127.

"Much of the literature that discusses the relationship between social justice and spirituality has focused on how spirituality has been used to inform and inspire social justice work. There is very little attention paid to how social justice might inform the practice and development of spirituality. It is this latter concern that will be the central focus of this article. I will make two central assertions in this direction. The first is that suffering is a central concern of social justice as well as one of the foundations animating spirituality. The second claim is that not only is there a relationship between spirituality and social justice but that this is a recursive relationship that runs in both directions." - Pg. 102

Powell, John A. "A minority-majority nation: racing the population in the twenty-first century." Fordham Urban Law Journal, April 2002, 1395+. General OneFile (accessed November 21, 2016).

"This article explores the factors that affect the creation of racial classifications and how they are reflected in the Census categories, particularly in regard to the classification of Hispanics. The article argues that an increase in racial minorities will not solely stop white racial domination of political power structures because of entrenched racial policies and practices. To end this domination, racial minorities must organize and collaborate to take down these racially oppressive structures." - Pg. 1395


Powell, John A. "Whites Will Be Whites: The Failure to Interrogate Racial Privilege." University of San Francisco Law Review 34.3 (2000): 419-464

"Instead, I accept that there is White racial privilege-of what Peggy McIntosh calls the negative kind, and what I prefer to call White supremacy or White racial hierarchy-and I endeavor to determine how we should think about it. Without trying to comprehensively address any one of these important issues, this Article will focus on several concerns. The first is the relationship between privilege and Otherness, rhetorically. Next, I review the nature and function of privilege as it has been articulated. Part of this review is an examination of the ways in which the rhetoric of privilege contributes to its invisibility, and corroborates the myth of White innocence. I touch on the problems that confronting privilege creates for Whites, and then move to a far more involved critique of privilege." - Pg. 420

Powell, John A. "As Justice Requires/Permits: The Delimitation of Harmful Speech in a Democratic Society." Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice 16.1 (1998): 97-152.

"This Article will argue that liberty, free speech and equality are not separate independent norms. Instead, they are related and must be evaluated based on the requirements of justice. Mortimer Adler asserts that the amount of liberty or equality permitted be as much as justice requires. Just as there is no one concept of justice, I will also argue that our conception of the self is anemic and needs to be enriched. Much of our thinking about law, liberty and equality is based on an enlightenment view of a unitary stable self that is not plausible. I will suggest that the self is multiple, fractured and interdependent, and that this has important implications for how we should think about speech and equality as part of a democratic project. Our approach to the self in general and racial categories in particular may be reconceptualized. This reconception has important implications for law. I will also assert that popular slogans such as "more speech" as a remedy for injurious speech are counter-factual and normatively wrong. My goal in this Article is to sketch a normative and pragmatic view of free speech and equality that is grounded in participatory democracy as justice and a more realistic view of the self." - Pg.98

Powell, John A.; Spencer, Marguerite L. "Remaking the Urban University for the Urban Student: Talking about Race." Connecticut Law Review 30.4 (1998): 1247-1300.

"Education is central to forming the citizen and supporting democracy. In the broadest terms, education is not just instrumental but is essential to constituting the individual. It is also a predicate for meaningful participation in the economic and political life of our society. Although the university has played many roles in this educational process over time, it is certain that providing access to education is central to the university mission. Unfortunately, access has not been made equally available to all communities-particularly communities of color. This Article examines the relationship of the urban university to these communities. It argues that the historical and recent trend of limiting minority access to education contradicts other university goals such as encouraging urban scholarship and fostering urban service collaboratives. It then concludes that the urban university must undertake a more integrated and transformative approach to urban education." - Pg.1247

Powell, John A. "The Racing of American Society: Race Functioning as a Verb before Signifying as a Noun." Law and Inequality: A Journal of Theory and Practice 15.1 (1997): 99-126.

"In Racial Identity and the State: The Dilemmas of Classification, Michael Omi identifies several problems that frustrate efforts to identify and understand race in a consistent and disciplined manner. Omi references scientists' difficulties in confronting the issue of race as they attempt to use their ostensibly objective analytical framework to understand a concept which has no scientific reality, but which at the same time has a powerful social reality and is very instrumental in shaping our individual and collective identities. Although perplexing at first blush, these difficulties in understanding race are not as problematic as they seem when one considers the multiplicity of truth: the reality that in one sphere the social-race does not necessarily carry the same meaning as in another sphere-the scientific or biological. In fact, even within particular frameworks of analysis there are different paradigms of understanding. Once these premises are recognized, they provide meaningful insight into attempts to understand and address race and racism in our society." - Pg. 99

Powell, John A. "The Colorblind Multiracial Dilemma: Racial Categories Reconsidered." University of San Francisco Law Review 31.4 (1997): 789-806.

"This paper will briefly touch on some of the ways we think about race and, more particularly, racial categories. Despite our obsession with race-which sometimes takes the form of race aversion-our national discourse is disturbingly confused, charged, and often unproductive. Our language often seems wooden and rehearsed, and the way that we discuss race is frequently in conflict with our stated ideals. I focus on racial categories not just because of their general interest and importance, but because Trina was very interested in them-both professionally and experientially. The concept of race is hotly contested and deconstructed in literature, law, and politics. Currently, there are several competing theories about race and its meaning and application in the United States. I will focus on two sets of claims about racial categories. I will explore the limitations of these positions and posit some alternative ways to think about racial categories." - Pg. 789

Powell, John A. "Living and Learning: Linking Housing and Education." Minnesota Law Review 80.4 (1996): 749-794.

As courts struggle with how to remedy racial segregation in America's public schools, confusion persists over who bears ultimate responsibility for the harm of segregation, or even what constitutes harm in the context of segregation. Justice Thurgood Marshall, in his dissent from the Supreme Court's decision in Milliken v. Bradley,' broadly envisioned the harm produced by racially segregated education. He stated, "[our Nation, I fear, will be ill served by the Court's refusal to remedy separate and unequal education, for unless our children begin to learn together, there is little hope that our people will ever learn to live together."' Twenty years later, in his concurrence in Missouri v. Jenkins,' Justice Clarence Thomas made a much narrower observation. He noted that "It never ceases to amaze me that the courts are so willing to assume that anything that is predominantly black must be inferior."4 Years of inadequate and uncommitted attempts at integrating our schools through busing separate these two divergent opinions. Although our concept of how to achieve integration certainly should have been changed by this experience, it seems odd that our view of the harm of a segregated society should have been so completely lost over time." - Pg. 649

DiAngelo, R. "White Fragility." International Journal of Critical Pedagogy, (2011): 3(3).

"White people in North America live in a social environment that protects and insulates them from race-based stress. This insulated environment of racial protection builds white expectations for racial comfort while at the same time lowering the ability to tolerate racial stress, leading to what I refer to as White Fragility. White Fragility is a state in which even a minimum amount of racial stress becomes intolerable, triggering a range of defensive moves. These moves include the outward display of emotions such as anger, fear, and guilt, and behaviors such as argumentation, silence, and leaving the stress-inducing situation. These behaviors, in turn, function to reinstate white racial equilibrium. This paper explicates the dynamics of White Fragility."

DiAngelo, Robin J. "Why Can’t We All Just Be Individuals?: Countering the Discourse of Individualism in Anti-racist Education. InterActions: UCLA" Journal of Education and Information Studies,(2010): 6(1).

"Over many years as a white person co-facilitating anti-racism courses at the graduate and undergraduate levels and in the workplace for majority white participants, I have come to believe that the Discourse of Individualism is one of the primary barriers preventing well-meaning (and other) white people from understanding racism. Individualism is so deeply held in dominant society that it is virtually immovable without sustained effort. This article challenges the Discourse of Individualism by addressing eight key dynamics of racism that it obscures. I posit that the Discourse of Individualism functions to: deny the significance of race and the advantages of being white; hide the accumulation of wealth over generations; deny social and historical context; prevent a macro analysis of the institutional and structural dimensions of social life; deny collective socialization and the power of dominant culture (media, education, religion, etc.) to shape our perspectives and ideology; function as neo-colorblindness and reproduce the myth of meritocracy; and make collective action difficult. Further, being viewed as an individual is a privilege only available to the dominant group. I explicate each of these discursive effects and argue that while we may be considered individuals in general, white insistence on Individualism in discussions of racism in particular functions to obscure and maintain racism."

john a. powell

Professor John Powell is the 2016-2017 Clarkson Chair in Urban and Regional Planning. This guide provides links to his publications as well as supplementary readings on the topics of race and urban and regional planning.


"john a. powell is an internationally recognized expert in the areas of civil rights, civil liberties, structural racialization, racial identity, fair housing, poverty, and democracy. john powell is the Director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society, a UC Berkeley research institute that brings together scholars, organizers, communicators, and policymakers to identify and eliminate the barriers to an inclusive, just, and sustainable society and to create transformative change toward a more equitable nation.

john holds the Robert D. Haas Chancellor’s Chair in Equity and Inclusion and is a Professor of Law, African American Studies, and Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley. john has written extensively on a number of issues including structural racism, racial justice, concentrated poverty and urban sprawl, opportunity based housing, voting rights, affirmative action in the United States, South Africa and Brazil, racial and ethnic identity, spirituality and social justice, and the needs of citizens in a democratic society. john was formerly the Executive Director of the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at Ohio State University and held the Gregory H. Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties at the Moritz College of Law. john also founded and directed the Institute on Race and Poverty at the University of Minnesota. He has served as Director of Legal Services in Miami, Florida and was National Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union where he was instrumental in developing educational adequacy theory.

john is the author of several books, including his most recent work, Racing to Justice: Transforming our Concepts of Self and Other to Build an Inclusive Society.

john has worked and lived in Africa, where he was a consultant to the governments of Mozambique and South Africa. He has also lived and worked in India and done work in South America and Europe. john is one of the co-founders of the Poverty & Race Research Action Council and serves on the board of several national organizations. john has taught at numerous law schools including Harvard and Columbia University."

"john a. powell: expanding the circle of human concern" John A . Powell. Accessed December 2, 2016.


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