Why African Americans Need to Report for Jury Duty

Some pieces of mail, like a refund check or birthday card, are welcome surprises. Others, like a jury summons, make you want to nail the mailbox shut. While reporting for jury duty can be inconvenient, resist the temptation to throw your jury notice in with the Bed Bath and Beyond coupons or Penny Saver. Jurors provide an important legal service. While every juror’s vote matters, African American jurors have a special duty to serve. This piece will explain why African Americans need to report fo

Religious Freedom: What African Americans Need to Know

The freedom to practice one’s religion is a cherished American right.  Many of those present during the framing of the U.S. Constitution experienced religious persecution at the hands of the British.  Therefore, they wanted to ensure that the new nation valued religious freedom. However, like other constitutional rights, the stakes are often higher for people of color.  Therefore, African Americans should take the time to learn their constitutional rights.  This post will explain why religious

Why African Americans Should Care About International Law

Most Americans know very little about international law.  In fact, according to numerous polls, most Americans believe that foreign affairs should take a backseat to domestic concerns.  However, African Americans can ill afford to ignore international law and human rights.  Many areas of international law address the issues that African Americans face each day.  Both Human Rights Day and Universal Human Rights Month are celebrated in December.  To honor these celebrations, this post explores

Drunk Driving Law and the African American Community

Drunk driving is an American epidemic.  According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, each year, nearly 800 people are injured by drivers operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Certain times are worse for drunk driving than others.   More drunk driving injuries occur at night than during the day.  And sadly, though the winter holiday season brings joy and merriment, it also brings two of the deadliest DUI days of the year – Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve.   As we enter this festive se

Stop and Frisk Law: What African Americans Need to Know

Earlier this week, Donald Trump addressed the International Association of Chiefs of Police.  While referencing Chicago, Trump stated, “The crime spree has a terrible blight on that city, and we will do everything possible to get it done.”  For Trump, the way to get it done is stopping and frisking Chicago residents.  About stop and frisk, Trump stated, “It works and it was meant for problems like Chicago. It was meant for it. Stop and frisk.” While this is not the first time Trump has champion

School Uniforms Becoming a Stiff-Fitting Policy on Black Students

Jerimiah Fassett was sent home from school earlier this September. He did not get into a fight. He did not bully another student. He did not disrespect a teacher. According to WPIX in New Jersey, the 15-year-old was sent home because he violated the school’s dress code. The school’s dress code states that students must wear black shoes with their uniforms.  Jerimiah’s black shoes had pink accents. Therefore, he was sent home. Jerimiah is not alone. This month NJ.com reported that another New Je

The School to Prison Pipeline: What Black Parents Need to Know

As mentioned in our last post, parents are preparing their families for the new school year.  Though most parents and children look forward to the new school year, no parent looks forward to notes or calls about behavior issues.  While all parents dread these conversations, Black parents have more reason to be concerned.  For African American children, what begins in school often ends in court.  This piece will provide information Black parents need to know about the school to prison pipeline.

The Legal Rights of African American Children in the Classroom

August means Back to School.  While all parents will need to purchase school supplies, schedule physicals, and reestablish bedtime routines, some parents must prepare to fight for their child’s right to learn.  Students with learning challenges have the right to special assistance in the classroom.  This article will give an overview of the legal rights of African American children in the classroom. When it comes to African American children and learning differences, two different concerns are

Betsy DeVos Wants to Gut Department That Investigates Civil Rights Violations In Schools

As the federal agency responsible for overseeing education from kindergarten through college, the policies adopted by the United States Department of Education have a major impact on the lives of American students. But in the Trump era, that impact could be a negative one. Budget cuts and personnel changes in the department could leave Black students at a disadvantage in the race to succeed academically. In America, state and local laws govern most education policy issues. Thus, matters such as

Could a Ruling In Favor of Masterpiece Cakeshop Have an Impact on Legal Race-Based Discrimination In America?

Last week, the Supreme Court heard arguments in Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission. Masterpiece Cakeshop was sued by a gay couple after refusing to bake a cake for their wedding. A ruling for the bakery could have a significant impact on legal race-based discrimination in America. Colorado, like most states, has a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation and other characteristics. The bakery is asking the Supreme Court to create an

No Money, No Vote: How Imposed Fines, Fees and Cost Keep Black People From Voting

When a person leaves jail/prison, it is often said that he or she has “paid their debt to society.” But for many ex-offenders, the debt grows even after prison ends. In addition to jail or prison time, many defendants are sentenced to pay fines, costs, fees, or restitution. These financial penalties are legal financial obligations (LFOs). Like any other part of a sentence, the failure to satisfy one’s LFOs has consequences.  When these fees are not paid, the freed offenders lose many rights — in

The Truest Form of Identity Politics Belongs to White America

“In this country American means white. Everybody else has to hyphenate.” — quote from Toni Morrison, Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-Winning Novelist Recently, the killing of four U.S. soldiers in Niger made headlines. The story then became one about the current commander-in-chief’s response to the deaths. During his condolence call to the widow of Sgt. La David Johnson, Trump told Mrs. Johnson that her husband “knew what he signed up for.” Myeshia Johnson reported that Trump’s dismissive tone and fa

Do Black Judges Matter In the Quest for Equal Justice?

On October 2, 1967, Thurgood Marshall took his seat on the Supreme Court of the United States. Marshall was the first African-American to sit on the Court. In the fifty years since his appointment, we must ask: Do Black judges matter? In the Trump Era, they most certainly do. In our federal system, it is the role of the judicial branch to make sure that the other branches are complying with the Constitution. While this may sound simple, it is not always easy because some parts of the Constituti

Betsy DeVos' Rollback of Campus Sexual Assault Rules Puts Black Women at Risk

Each year at this time, college students return to campus, ready for new experiences. While most students’ experiences will include lectures and football games, a few unfortunate students will experience something else: sexual assault. Unwanted sexual contact is rampant on America’s campuses. To grasp the magnitude of the problem, consider this: twenty-five percent of college women have been sexually assaulted or unwanted sexual contact on campus.  Thus, at any given college, for every four fem

Looking at How Black Women Are Policed in America

Earlier this summer in Bakersfield, California, Tatyana Hargrove, a 19-year-old Black woman, was riding her bicycle to a store to buy a Father’s Day gift. She was stopped on the way home by police officers who subsequently punched her in the face, slammed her to the ground, turned a police dog on her and arrested her. One of the officers attempted to justify his behavior by alleging that Ms. Hargrove matched the description of another suspect — a 25 year-old black man. Just last month, video su

Policing for Profit: How Civil Forfeiture Is Making a Comeback Under Trump

In July, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice would reinstate its civil forfeiture policy. Civil forfeiture allows law enforcement officers to seize the property of those suspected of crimes. This seizure can occur even if there is no conviction or arrest. Moreover, in some jurisdictions, law enforcement departments get to keep what they find in these situations, providing a perverse profit motive for seizing property. Sessions’ decision was controversial, as