Georgetown Law Is Under Fire For Its Casual Racism

Georgetown Law Is Under Fire For Its Casual Racism

Georgetown Law School’s official Twitter account has been caught in a firestorm of criticism after it sent out an image of four white students dressed in ethnic costumes on Halloween, prompting accusations of racism and cultural appropriation by both students and alumni.

The photo was first posted on the school’s official Twitter account on Friday with the caption we think this is an appropriate costume to wear to #halloween2016.

It was later deleted, but not before sparking outrage among students and alumni alike, who say that its message wasn’t just insensitive, but fundamentally racist.

The law school itself

You might be wondering why the controversy over racial insensitivity at Georgetown University‘s law school is just now going viral. It turns out that the country is just starting to take note of their antics,

which include hanging a dark-skinned black baby doll from a tree branch as decoration and serving Native American-themed chili for lunch in 2018. In light of recent events,

tensions have been high in the office, with two staffers calling it quits recently after being demeaned with racist comments. As outsiders looking in, it becomes clear that Georgetown Law’s culture of casual racism is both systemic and present at all levels of student life.

The Black Women’s Law Association took it upon themselves to make this institutional racism public knowledge and urge the university to address what they say are longstanding issues.

The catalyst for change was a black male third-year law student named Jonathan Peraza, who found himself on campus to deliver a speech about mass incarceration and racism.

In a Facebook post (since deleted), Peraza described being approached by one of his professors as he was registering for an upcoming exam and asked if he’d just gotten out of jail.

Not only did she engage in racially coded speech while addressing him, but upon receiving confirmation that it was indeed him and not someone impersonating him,

permitted to look down at his ID photo before informing him that she wouldn’t be recognizing him because she didn’t know if it was safe.

How much impact do you think your intervention had on their new organizational policies? What did you specifically do?

The students

On April 17, Georgetown University law students interrupted a school lecture on the ills of U.S. wealth disparity and decried the university’s institutional racism in what’s been dubbed the #SilenceisViolence protest.

The group’s 10-minute protest disrupted two speeches by Georgetown professors about the negative implications of America’s rising income inequality and extreme wealth and how it has made building an American dream increasingly unattainable for more people as time goes on.

They also criticized Georgetown for issuing a statement addressing recent reports that professors have questioned whether affirmative action hurts white Americans’ chances of getting into college.

In response to protests in late March over campus racism, school officials sent an email reaffirming that they do not tolerate racist attitudes among its students, faculty, or staff.

The faculty

They might have taught me how to assert my rights as a person of color in America, but they didn’t teach me how this country uses these privileges against me to justify crimes committed against my community such as disproportionate representation among those incarcerated and public school systems that perpetuate white superiority through standardized testing requirements.

While I appreciate everything that my faculty has done for me as a person of color, I cannot continue to condone them if they are going to support hate in such an open manner.

If they are willing to speak so disrespectfully about individuals and communities that they purport to represent, then how do I know their teachings regarding my community will be any different? The fact is, Georgetown University has a history of racism and creating thought leaders who continuously perpetuate racism.

The school’s response: As Georgetown alumni, we are disappointed at our alma mater’s lack of commitment to diversity and inclusion. We demand that our school and its board of directors step up and take action against such practices lest we tarnish our name as educated and enlightened individuals.

What you can do

We want everyone to feel like they belong in our community, and yet we keep feeding into the idea that there are better places for students of color than Georgetown.

How do we fix this? We need to stop excusing blatant racism as unintentional or blaming it on a lack of awareness.

The only way to start solving this is by facing the problems head-on and taking responsibility for our shortcomings to create a more inclusive environment.

The first step is recognizing that racism is still rampant throughout society, from subtle prejudice up to violence.

As Georgetown law students, we have an obligation not only to make sure people don’t perpetuate these stereotypes at school but also to make them feel more welcome so they can thrive here.

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