Black Literature Studies

hen respond to the prompt. You may respond in any form/medium that feels comfortable to you, as long as it can be uploaded/linked etc. You may write a letter, a creative piece, respond in video, write a traditional response paper, this is up to you.  You will only lose points if your lab does not fully engage the lab activities/exercises and requirements/or you do not submit your lab by the deadline.

Prompt:  Both CRT and Adichie insist on the power of storytelling. The ways stories of experience and perspective may influence and expand our ideas assumptions and expectations. For example, within Butler’s novel Kindred and Bell’s short story The Space Traders, there are many stories, many counter narratives that are brought to the surface. Both texts present  something seemingly impossible (time traveling, alien encounters) paired with very real worldly happenings (the institution of slavery, the complications and contradictions of social norms and political action, the trading of people for “the better good” of a society). Using Derrick Bell’s The Space Traders discuss what you think may be the author’s purpose. In other words, why is he telling this story? What is a major argument he’s making, a position he’s taking, what is it he wants readers to think more about? Then discuss a particular issue or aspect of the story that provided a new perspective, helped you make a connection or expanded your understanding of histories, present, or(potential) futures. You may also included thoughtful questions that the text raised for you. Please be detailed and specific in your observations (for example, do not broadly state that Bell’s story reminds you of slavery–there’s so much nuance to this) Use evidence from the text to support your position.

PreviousNext

Wach- https://www.ted.com/talks/chimamanda_ngozi_adichie_the_danger_of_a_single_story?utm_campaign=tedspread&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare
 

44

C h a p t e r I I I

Legal Storytelling and Narrative Analysis

Have you ever had the experience of hearing one story and

being completely convinced, then hearing an exactly oppo-

site story, equally well told, and being left unsure of your

convictions? In an everyday experience, Kim complains to

the teacher that Billy has been picking fights on the play-

ground. The teacher listens sympathetically and is ready to

punish Billy. Fortunately, the teacher listens to Billy’s story

or that of an impartial third child. It turns out that Billy is

not at fault at all; Kim started the trouble.

Or have you perhaps had the experience of watching

two gifted appellate lawyers arguing a case? You hear the

first and are persuaded. You see no way that the court can

fail to rule in his or her favor. Then the second lawyer

argues the opposite side, citing different authority, invok-

ing different principles, bringing out different aspects of

the same cases that the first lawyer relied on. Your certainty

is shaken; now you are unsure which side deserves to win.

Or perhaps you have had the experience of discussing

with a friend a famous case, such as the one growing out

of the death of Trayvon Martin or one having to do with

an accused terrorist who was tortured. You and she agree

Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory (Third Edition) : An Introduction, New York University Press, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bryant/detail.action?docID=4714300. Created from bryant on 2021-01-25 09:11:58.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

7. N

ew Y

or k

U ni

ve rs

ity P

re ss

. A ll

rig ht

s re

se rv

ed .

Legal Storytelling and Narrative Analysis 45

on most of the facts of what happened, but you put radi-

cally different interpretations on them. You are left won-

dering how two people can see “the same evidence” in

such different lights.

Critical race theorists have built on everyday experi- ences with perspective, viewpoint, and the power of stories and persuasion to come to a deeper understanding of how Americans see race. They have written parables, autobiog- raphy, and “counterstories” and have investigated the fac- tual background and personalities, frequently ignored in the casebooks, of well- known cases such as Korematsu (the Japanese- internment case) or Plessy v. Ferguson (the separate- but- equal case). Other scholars have examined narrative theory in an effort to understand why certain stories work and others do not. Still others study the way trial lawyers consciously or unconsciously construct narratives— theories of a case— that they hope will resonate with the jury and induce it to adopt their interpretations of what happened and to reject those of the opposite side.

Legal storytellers, such as Derrick Bell and Patricia Wil- liams, draw on a long history with roots going back to the slave narratives, tales written by black captives to describe their condition and unmask the gentility that white plan- tation society pretended to. American Indians, of course, were great storytellers who used history and myth to pre- serve culture, to bind the group together, and to remind it of its common destiny. In Latino society, picaresque novel- ists made sly fun of social convention, puffed- up nobility, and illegitimate authority. Although some writers criticize

Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory (Third Edition) : An Introduction, New York University Press, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bryant/detail.action?docID=4714300. Created from bryant on 2021-01-25 09:11:58.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

7. N

ew Y

or k

U ni

ve rs

ity P

re ss

. A ll

rig ht

s re

se rv

ed .

46 Legal Storytelling and Narrative Analysis

CRT for excessive negativity and failure to develop a posi- tive program, legal storytelling and narrative analysis are clear- cut advances that the movement can claim. Even some minority judges are finding it useful from time to time to insist on the validity of the perspective of color.

By that standard, white judges will be permitted to keep the latitude they have enjoyed for centuries in discussing mat- ters of intellectual substance, even issues of human rights and, because they are white, still be permitted to later decide specific factual situations involving the principles of human rights which they have discussed previously in a generalized fashion. But for black judges, defendants insist on a far more rigid standard, which would preclude black judges from ever discussing race relations even in . . . generalized fashion. . . .

To suggest that black judges should be so disqualified would be analogous to suggesting that the slave masters were right when . . . they argued that only they, but not the slaves, could evaluate the harshness or justness of the system.

Federal Judge Leon Higginbotham, in refusing to disqualify

himself from hearing a case, Commonwealth v. Local Union

542, International Union of Operating Engineers, 388 F. Supp.

155 , 165 (E.D. Pa. 1974)

A. Opening a Window onto Ignored or Alternative Realities

One premise of legal storytellers is that members of this country’s dominant racial group cannot easily grasp what it is like to be nonwhite. Few have what W. E. B. Du Bois described as “double consciousness.” History books, Sun- day sermons, and even case law contribute to a cultural

Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory (Third Edition) : An Introduction, New York University Press, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bryant/detail.action?docID=4714300. Created from bryant on 2021-01-25 09:11:58.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

7. N

ew Y

or k

U ni

ve rs

ity P

re ss

. A ll

rig ht

s re

se rv

ed .

Legal Storytelling and Narrative Analysis 47

hegemony that makes it difficult for reformers to make race an issue. How to bridge the gap in thinking between persons of good will whose experiences, perspectives, and backgrounds are radically different is a great challenge.

Consider the following clash of stories. According to one leading CRT writer, the majority’s story of race would probably go something like this:

Early in our history there was slavery, which was a terrible thing. Blacks were brought to this country from Africa in chains and made to work in the fields. Some were viciously mistreated, which was, of course, an unforgiv- able wrong; others were treated kindly. Slavery ended with the Civil War, although many blacks remained poor, uned- ucated, and outside the cultural mainstream. As the coun- try’s racial sensitivity to blacks’ plight increased, federal statutes and case law gradually eliminated the vestiges of slavery. Today, blacks enjoy many civil rights and are pro- tected from discrimination in such areas as housing, pub- lic education, employment, and voting. A black president occupies the White House. Many entertainers and sports figures— millionaires all— are black. The gap between blacks and whites is steadily closing, although it may take some time for it to close completely. At the same time, it is important not to go too far in providing special benefits for blacks. Doing so induces dependency and welfare men- tality. It can also cause a backlash among innocent whites who believe they have suffered reverse discrimination. Most Americans are fair- minded individuals who harbor little racial prejudice. The few who do can be punished when they act on those beliefs.

Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory (Third Edition) : An Introduction, New York University Press, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bryant/detail.action?docID=4714300. Created from bryant on 2021-01-25 09:11:58.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

7. N

ew Y

or k

U ni

ve rs

ity P

re ss

. A ll

rig ht

s re

se rv

ed .

48 Legal Storytelling and Narrative Analysis

That’s the first story. Yet coexisting with that comfort- ing tale are others of black, Chinese, Japanese, Latino, Fil- ipino, and American Indian subordination in the United States, a history “gory, brutal, filled with more murder, mutilation, rape, and brutality than most of us can imag- ine or easily comprehend” (Derrick Bell, And We Are Not Saved 217 [1987]).

That history continues into the present and implicates persons still alive. It includes infant death rates among minorities nearly double those of whites, as well as arrest and incarceration rates that are among the highest in the world. School dropout rates among blacks and Latinos are worse than those in practically any industrialized coun- try, and the gap between whites and nonwhites in income, assets, educational attainment, and life expectancy is as wide as it was thirty years ago, if not wider. Violence against Middle Eastern– looking people, as well as against sexual minorities, has increased alarmingly.

The new accounts dare to call our most prized legal doctrines and protections shams— hollow pronounce- ments issued with great solemnity and fanfare, only to be silently ignored, cut back, or withdrawn when the celebra- tions die down.

How can there be such divergent stories? Why do they not reconcile? To the first question, critical race theory answers, “experience.” People of different races have radi- cally different experiences as they go through life. (Derrick Bell would add a further reason: “interest convergence”— people believe what benefits them.) To the second, it answers that empathy is in short supply. (See the discus-

Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory (Third Edition) : An Introduction, New York University Press, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bryant/detail.action?docID=4714300. Created from bryant on 2021-01-25 09:11:58.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

7. N

ew Y

or k

U ni

ve rs

ity P

re ss

. A ll

rig ht

s re

se rv

ed .

Legal Storytelling and Narrative Analysis 49

sion of the empathic fallacy in chapter 2.) Literary and narrative theory holds that we each occupy a normative universe or “nomos” (or perhaps many of them), from which we are not easily dislodged. Talented storytellers nevertheless struggle to reach broad audiences with their messages. “Everyone loves a story.” The hope is that well- told stories describing the reality of black and brown lives can help readers to bridge the gap between their worlds and those of others. Engaging stories can help us under- stand what life is like for others and invite the reader into a new and unfamiliar world.

“Race may be America’s single most confounding problem, but the confounding problem of race is that few people seem to know what race is.” (Ian F. Haney López, The Social Con- struction of Race: Some Observations on Illusion, Fabrica- tion, and Choice, 29 Harv. C.R.- C.L. L. Rev. 1, 5– 6 [1994]). In part, what makes race a confounding problem and what causes many people to not know what race is, is the view that the problems of race are the problems of the racial minority. They are not. The problems of race belong to all of us, no matter where our ancestors come from, no matter what the color of our skin. Thus, concluding that race is not an issue in this case because juror 32 is not a member of a racial minor- ity, misses the point. Race is an issue.

State v. Buggs, 581 N.W. 2d 329, 344 (Minn. 1998)

B. Counterstorytelling

Some of the critical storytellers believe that stories also have a valid destructive function. Society constructs the social world through a series of tacit agreements mediated

Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory (Third Edition) : An Introduction, New York University Press, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bryant/detail.action?docID=4714300. Created from bryant on 2021-01-25 09:11:58.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

7. N

ew Y

or k

U ni

ve rs

ity P

re ss

. A ll

rig ht

s re

se rv

ed .

50 Legal Storytelling and Narrative Analysis

by images, pictures, tales, tweets, blog postings, social media, and other scripts. Much of what we believe is ridic- ulous, self- serving, or cruel but is not perceived to be so at the time. Attacking embedded preconceptions that margin- alize others or conceal their humanity is a legitimate func- tion of all fiction.

In legal discourse, preconceptions and myths, for exam- ple, about black criminality or Muslim terrorism, shape mindset— the bundle of received wisdoms, stock stories, and suppositions that allocate suspicion, place the bur- den of proof on one party or the other, and tell us in cases of divided evidence what probably happened. These cul- tural influences are probably at least as determinative of outcomes as are the formal laws, since they supply the background against which the latter are interpreted and applied. Critical writers use counterstories to challenge, displace, or mock these pernicious narratives and beliefs. (See, e.g., Richard Delgado, Rodrigo’s Eighth Chronicle: Black Crime, White Fears— On the Social Construction of Threat, 80 Va. L. Rev. 503 [1994], pointing out that white- collar and corporate/industrial crime— perpetrated mostly by whites— causes more personal injury, death, and prop- erty loss than does all street crime combined, even on a per capita basis.)

C. Cure for Silencing

Stories also serve a powerful additional function for mi- nority communities. Many victims of racial discrimination suffer in silence or blame themselves for their predicament. Others pretend that it didn’t happen or that they “just let

Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory (Third Edition) : An Introduction, New York University Press, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bryant/detail.action?docID=4714300. Created from bryant on 2021-01-25 09:11:58.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

7. N

ew Y

or k

U ni

ve rs

ity P

re ss

. A ll

rig ht

s re

se rv

ed .

Legal Storytelling and Narrative Analysis 51

it roll off my back.” All three groups are more silent than they need be. Stories can give them a voice and reveal that other people have similar experiences. Stories can name a type of discrimination (e.g., microaggressions, unconscious discrimination, or structural racism); once named, it can be combated. If race is not real or objective but constructed, racism and prejudice should be capable of deconstruction; the pernicious beliefs and categories are, after all, our own. Powerfully written stories and narratives may begin a pro- cess of correction in our system of beliefs and categories by calling attention to neglected evidence and reminding readers of our common humanity. Even the conservative judge Richard Posner has conceded that major reforms in law often come through a conversion process or paradigm shift similar to the one Thomas Kuhn describes and minor- ity storytellers advocate (Richard Posner, The Problems of Jurisprudence 459 [1990]). Barack Obama’s Dreams from My Father (1995) seems to have served a vital func- tion in explaining to many readers the young president’s racial journey.

The philosopher Jean- François Lyotard’s concept of the differend helps explain the value of narratives for margin- alized persons. The differend occurs when a concept such as justice acquires conflicting meanings for two groups. A prime example would be a case in which a judge seeks to hold responsible an individual who does not subscribe to the foundational views of the regime that is sitting in judgment of him or her. In situations like this, the sub- ordinate person lacks language to express how he or she has been injured or wronged. (See, e.g., George Martinez,

Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory (Third Edition) : An Introduction, New York University Press, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bryant/detail.action?docID=4714300. Created from bryant on 2021-01-25 09:11:58.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

7. N

ew Y

or k

U ni

ve rs

ity P

re ss

. A ll

rig ht

s re

se rv

ed .

52 Legal Storytelling and Narrative Analysis

Philosophical Considerations and the Use of Narrative in the Law, 30 Rutgers L.J. 683 [1999].) For example, when contemporary Euro- Americans resist even discussing repa- rations for blacks on the grounds that a black person liv- ing today has never been a slave and so lacks standing, nor has any white person alive today been a slaveholder, the black person who wishes to discuss these questions and is shunted aside suffers the differend. The prevailing conception of justice deprives him or her of the chance to express a grievance in terms the system will understand. Until very recently, women who suffered childhood incest or battered- wife syndrome were victims of the differend, as were Latino undocumented persons who suffered work- place discrimination but could not complain for fear of being deported. Narratives provide a language to bridge the gaps in imagination and conception that give rise to the differend. They reduce alienation for members of excluded groups, while offering opportunities for members of the majority group to meet them halfway. In our time, Middle Eastern writers describe the alienation and pain of deal- ing with daily suspicion that they are terrorists, when they may be law- abiding accountants, teachers, office work- ers, or doctors. (See, e.g., John Tehranian, Whitewashed: America’s Invisible Middle Eastern Minority [2008].)

D. Storytelling in Court

Attorneys and teachers of clinical law have been applying storytelling and narrative analysis to understand how the dynamics of persuasion operate in the courtroom. They also use them to understand the interplay of power and

Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory (Third Edition) : An Introduction, New York University Press, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bryant/detail.action?docID=4714300. Created from bryant on 2021-01-25 09:11:58.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

7. N

ew Y

or k

U ni

ve rs

ity P

re ss

. A ll

rig ht

s re

se rv

ed .

Legal Storytelling and Narrative Analysis 53

interpretive authority between lawyer and client. Suppose, for example, the lawyer favors strategy A because it is 60 percent likely to win. The client, however, favors strategy B because it is “truer” to his experience or his world, even though it is less likely to produce a victory. Writers such as Lucy White and Anthony Alfieri show that attention to the narrative side of lawyering can enable lawyers representing the poor and disenfranchised to achieve a better brand of justice. This has prompted some critics to charge that CRT teaches unmitigated manipulation of emotions and playing the race card. For example, when the O.  J. Simpson ver- dict came down, Jeffrey Rosen, legal affairs writer for the New Republic, charged that Johnny Cochran’s successful defense of his famous client was an outrage and a case of “applied critical race theory.” Despite this and other criti- cisms, law has been slowly moving in the direction of rec- ognizing the legitimacy and power of narrative. Children and certain other witnesses are permitted to testify in the form of an uninterrupted narrative, rather than through question- and- answer examination. With sexual- offense victims, shield laws and evidentiary statutes protect them against certain types of examination, even though the Sixth Amendment’s Confrontation Clause would otherwise per- mit the other side to attack their narrative forcefully.

Delgado, Richard, and Jean Stefancic. Critical Race Theory (Third Edition) : An Introduction, New York University Press, 2017. ProQuest Ebook Central, http://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/bryant/detail.action?docID=4714300. Created from bryant on 2021-01-25 09:11:58.

C op

yr ig

ht ©

2 01

7. N

ew Y

or k

U ni

ve rs

ity P

re ss

. A ll

rig ht

s re

se rv

ed .

Order a similar paper and get 15% discount on your first order with us

Dr. Padma Myers
Dr. Padma Myers
98% Success Rate
Read More
“Hello, I deliver nursing papers on time following instructions from the client. My primary goal is customer satisfaction. Welcome for plagiarism free papers”
Stern Frea
Stern Frea
98% Success Rate
Read More
Hi! I am an English Language and Literature graduate; I have written many academic essays, including argumentative essays, research papers, and literary analysis.
Dr. Ishid Elsa
Dr. Ishid Elsa
98% Success Rate
Read More
"Hi, count on me to deliver quality papers that meet your expectations. I write well researched papers in the fields of nursing and medicine".
Dr. Paul P. Klug
Dr. Paul P. Klug
99% Success Rate
Read More
"A top writer with proven reliability and experience. I have a 99% success rate, overall rating of 10. Hire me for quality custom written nursing papers. Thank you"

How Our Essay Writing Service Works

Tell Us Your Requirements

Fill out order details and instructions, then upload any files or additional materials if needed. Then, confirm your order by clicking “Place an Order.”

Make your payment

Your payment is processed by a secure system. We accept Mastercard, Visa, Amex, and Discover. We don’t share any informati.on with third parties

The Writing Process

You can communicate with your writer. Clarify or track order with our customer support team. Upload all the necessary files for the writer to use.

Download your paper

Check your paper on your client profile. If it meets your requirements, approve and download. If any changes are needed, request a revision to be done.

Recent Questions

Stay In Touch!

Leave your email and get discount promo codes and the best essay samples from our writers!