Guest lecturer discusses race, discrimination

first_imgThe USC Center for Law, History and Culture held the 14th Annual Law and Humanities Distinguished Lecture, “Second Class Citizens: Dred Scott and The Roberts Court” on Wednesday at Town and Gown.Given by Mary Frances Berry, the Geraldine R. Segal professor of American social thought and professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, the lecture included a discussion on the perception and prevalence of discrimination in society today, especially in regards to African Americans.Author of eleven books and once a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, Berry considers herself to be an “archive rack.”Berry led into her lecture on different cases of injustice by explaining the lack of understanding about discrimination today.“When white people, and sometimes even black people, don’t understand why ‘Black Lives Matter’ makes sense, it’s because they don’t understand the historical context which still prevails about black inferiority,” Berry said.She made note of the fact that progress has been made in ending racial discrimination.However, Berry stated that even today, prejudice still thwarts opportunity for some people before they have been granted the chance to start.Berry listed a variety of different examples in which discrimination was apparent in American history.The topics of her discussion ranged from the Dred Scott case, in which the Supreme Court determined that Dred Scott, an enslaved African-American, was not a citizen, to a situation in her own personal life when her intentions were questioned while she was simply stretching in a mall after exercising.“I was an inferior in the mall; I was out of place” Berry said.After discussing numerous instances and cases of discrimination, Berry took the time to express her vision in finding a remedy for the issue at hand.“If we’re going to ever have any remedies, we’re going to have to get rid of the stereotypes and get rid of Dred Scott,” Berry said.Essentially, Berry believes that in order to reveal the inequity as we see it, it is necessary for us to spark a social movement.In her eyes, she believes this will happen if we have what she considers to be “hot lawyers,” or lawyers who will question things and answer the call to action in order to make a difference.“Hot lawyers tell you how you can do what you want to do,” Berry said.Berry claims that it is “hot lawyers,” rather than “cold lawyers,” who will carry the social change that is desired. When asked by an aspiring law student how to best be a “hot lawyer,” Berry explained that it is important to always question things and attempt to see things in a way different from the way taught to you.“Hot lawyers try to figure out how to get to where you ought to go even if conventionally you don’t go there or there’s no way to get there,” Berry said.last_img

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