What's Race Got To Do With It?

Professor Jody Armour, alongside two of his former law students at the University of Southern California Gould School of Law, presents Nigga Theory to members of the Black legal community.  Professor Armour also discusses portions of his new book, "Nigger Lover: Law Language and Luck in the Social Construction of Niggas." Accompanying this presentation are performances by musical guests, poets, and other artists.

Race, Rap, and Redemption

USC Law Professor Jody Armour welcomes rap icon Ice Cube and other performance artists to campus for “Race, Rap & Redemption."

"Using a criminal trial framework, Armour will present “opening arguments,” followed by evidence and witnesses in the form of performances by renowned slam poet Saul Williams, interpretive dancers from the South Los Angeles-based Lula Washington Dance Theatre, spoken word artist Mayda Del Valle, and others. As a cross-examination, Armour will conduct a question-and-answer session Ice Cube, following his performance.

Professor Garet, who teaches constitutional law and religious ethics, will present evidence during the redemption-focused portion of the evening.

“The word ‘redemption’ in ‘Race, Rap & Redemption’ flags the question: What prospects are there for redemption from the circumstance of oppression in which we live?” Garet said. “I look to the line in the Declaration of Independence that says ‘all men are created equal.’ But it doesn’t say that all men are redeemed equal and are equally offered a redemption in our lives.”

Affiliated with Visions and Voices, USC’s Arts and Humanities Initiative, the evening also will feature opening remarks by USC Provost C. L. Max Nikias; an inventive performance by the Macy Gray Music Academy, directed by USC jazz studies chair Ron McCurdy, of “Lift Every Voice and Sing;” and a post-program reception hosted by USC Spectrum.

“This event will be more than merely a form of expression; it will actually be an act that has consequences and results in something positive,” said Professor Armour, an expert in crime and race issues. “We want to be sure the ‘ivory tower’ meets the ‘street’ in a way that both sides get a unique evening that transforms them in some way.”

(USC Law Professors Explore “Race, Rap, & Redemption”, USC Gould Sch. of Law (Feb. 16, 2007), http://weblaw.usc.edu/news/article.cfm?newsID=348.)

"Good Negroes" v. "Bad Negroes": A TYT Discussion with Cenk Uygur

Good Negroes v. Bad Negroes:  A discussion regarding the distinction between law abiding "Good Negroes" and Blacks with a criminal record or "Bad and Wicked Negroes"

Jody Armour, Professor of Law at USC and author of "Negrophobia and Reasonable Racism" and "Nigger Lover: Luck, Law, and Language in the Social Construction of Niggas" sits down for an in-depth interview with Cenk Uygur.

Professor Armour treads potentially controversial territory, including hard realities of race, social class, crime, and more. Are hope and opportunity enough to get kids from the lower class into better opportunities and higher education? What is the American dream? Is there stratification within black America? 

What is a "good negro" and a "bad negro?" Where does Obama fit in? 

Professor Jody Armour and Cenk Uygur discuss it all in this full interview on TYT Interviews

Self-Defense Doctrine in the US

In light of the circumstances surrounding Trayvon Martin's death and the verdict in the Zimmerman trial, Florida's "stand your ground" laws have come under public scrutiny.  However, even without the additional leeway offered to potential defendants from "stand your ground" laws, basic self-defense doctrine as currently established in the US may well have led to the same result.  The "reasonable person" standard that exists at the core of self-defense doctrine permits a defendant to stereotype and racially profile another individual if that type of behavior is "typical."  Although it may sound morally reprehensible to judge whether the "dangerousness" of Black folk are something Americans consider frequently enough to be deemed "typical" behavior, it is a legally relevant topic for courts and juries to consider under self-defense doctrine. 

Tune in to Professor Armour's short seminar with USC law students as he goes through self-defense 101.

The Point - An Honest Conversation About Race

Back in The Young Turks' studio for another round-table discussion featuring Professor Jody Armour, actress Anne-Marie Johnson and co-creator of The Chapelle Show, Neal Brennan.

Topics include:

  • Racism in the criminal justice system
  • Unconscious bias and its impact on the law
  • The power of jokes to unite and divide communities

Critical Race Theory, 3rd ed.

Critical Race Theory, 3rd ed. has been published! In this edition of the book, I explain the relevance of race to the reasonable person test in self-defense cases and why, albeit technically legally relevant, race should be excluded as much as possible from the formal adjudications of self-defense claims.
In order to demonstrate these points, I analyze the Trayvon Martin, Bernhard Goetz, and Amadou Diallo cases, all cases of deadly defensive force used against blacks in which the victim’s racial identity bears directly on the reasonableness of the defenders perceptions and responses.

Click the link above for more information on the book's contents or to purchase a copy.

"We Say NO MORE!" Statement

Prominent figures Cornel West, Tavis Smiley, Adam Horovitz of the Beastie Boys, Tom Morello, Noam Chomsky, Don Cheadle, Peter Coyote, Lisa Edelstein, scientist Niles Eldridge, and Tony Award winning playwright Eve Ensler have joined other leaders, activists, and educators in signing the following statement:
"WE SAY NO MORE! The killing of Trayvon Martin and 2.4 million in prison make clear that there is a whole generation of Black and Latino youth who have been marked and treated as a "generation of suspects" to be murdered and jailed. This is not an issue for Black people alone but for all who care about justice; it is not a random tragedy. We Say NO MORE!"

The Orlando Sentinel refused to publish the statement on the basis that it is “inflammatory” and "is more of an opinion rather than a substantiated fact.”

Political statements are acts just as much as they are words; they have the power to rally and unify individuals. Signing the statement draws a line between the signers and non-signers, creating a dichotomy of "us" and "them." In the words of the statement, "us" represents "all who care about justice," while "them" represents those who do not. Although the "We Say NO MORE" statement is well-intentioned, its word work lacks sophistication. Here, the statement fails to recognize that "murder" is not simply a term to describe the killing of another; "murder" has a narrow, legal definition. George Zimmerman is charged with 2nd degree murder, which means under Florida law, the killing of Trayvon Martin was murder if, and only if, the jury believes Zimmerman committed “an act imminently dangerous to another and evincing a depraved mind regardless of human life.” In the alternative, the jury may decide that Zimmerman was adequately provoked, reducing his crime to manslaughter, or even that his acts were justified under the doctrine of self-defense.

Skillful word work of political statements can unite otherwise distinct individuals in support of a message or a cause; however, the wrong word work can result in a message that will estrange, rather than unite, allies.
It has been a busy week for SCOTUS! Click HERE to hear my legal analysis of Prop. 8 and DOMA.

  • HERE, find commentary from Ron Prentice, the Executive Director of Protect Marriage, which has been defending Prop. 8 in court and my response to his statement that the court's ruling on Prop. 8 is not the end of the political process.
  • HERE, find commentary from Guy Erwin, the first openly gay Bishop-elect of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and Reverend Bill Owens, who helped organize African-American churches throughout California in support of Prop 8. In my response to their commentary, I analogize today's decision to Loving v. Virginia, which recognized the right to marry as fundamental and declared state bans on interracial marriage as unconstitutional, and reflect on the legal progression over the past 15 years in dealing with same-sex intimacy and marriage.
The audio to the interviews and my commentary are on the left-hand side of the pages.

Race and The Trayvon Martin Case, Drugs, Voting, and...Football?

As promised, the video of my discussion with Aqeela Sherrills and Bill Santiago, hosted by Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks.

Rather than ruling on the constitutionality of race-based admissions, the Supreme Court in Fisher v. University of Texas sent the case back to the lower court on the basis that it had not applied the appropriate standard of review. Associate Professor of Law at the Earle Mack School of Law, Lisa McElroy; Senior Fellow in Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute, Ilya Shapiro; and Professor of Law at the University of Southern California, Jody Armour discuss the ruling and affirmative action.
Catch Jody Armour and Ilya Shapiro discuss their contrasting views on whether affirmative action will survive higher scrutiny as a necessary means to achieve diversity in colleges at 8:00.

Follow this link to the audio

A Better Chance (playlist)

Former "A Better Chance" scholars discuss their paths to their current legal careers and giving back. See Jody Armour's segments at 3:57 and 11:08.

Great discussion with Aqeela Sherrills and Bill Santiago , hosted by Ana Kasparian of The Young Turks .

We covered:
  • Race, Class and the Criminal Justice System
  • Drugs, Poverty, Race and Crime
  • The Supreme Court's decision to strike down an Arizona law imposing additional requirements to prove citizenship for voter eligibility
  • An exoneree's court battle with his ex-wife over the $6 million settlement he received from the state of Texas for his false imprisonment
  • Whether the Washington Redskins should be renamed
Plus a lightening round discussion on noteworthy tweets.

Video coming soon.

Professor Jody Armour, writer Aura Bogado, and journalist Trevor Coleman discuss President Obama's commencement address at Morehouse College, during which the President warns black men that there is "no time for excuses."