UNC students, faculty members, law school affiliates and practicing attorneys gathered for the Critical Race Theory Symposium at the UNC School of Law on Saturday.
Although a majority of Americans indicate that race relations are a problem, few people discuss consequences of racial inequalities, according to a poll by NBC News and SurveyMonkey. The symposium aimed to break this norm and increase understanding of how race, class and gender affect housing, environmental justice and health care.
The symposium, sponsored by the UNC School of Law's chapter of the National Lawyers Guild and the Black Law Student Association, addressed these issues through lectures and breakout discussion sessions.
Part of the reason why certain racial and gender groups face discrimination in society is because of a cultural system which has historically favored conservative customs and norms, said Trina Jones a professor of law at Duke University School of Law.
“The law is inherently a conservative mechanism,” Jones said. “It brought some of the core concepts in law precedent, stare decisis – appealing to customs and norms. Customs and norms may penalize and incorporate the various stereotypes and tendencies that anti-discrimination law struggles with racial justice with trying to prove that.”
A significant income gap exists as well between African American and white households, which has increased since the 1970s, according to an analysis conducted by the Pew Research Center.
“There is a significant difference between perception and reality for all of these categories,” said Melissa Norton, project director at Bull City 150, a group that aims to address racial and economic injustices in Durham.
With housing prices increasing and with minimum wage salaries not keeping up with costs of living, many minority groups are struggling to support their families.
“We are living in a time where housing is more expensive than it has ever been in U.S. history,” Norton said.
Some of North Carolina’s famous golf courses, such as Pinehurst No. 2, have also seen the impacts of minority oppression allowing them to become wealthy businesses, said Danielle Purifoy, a post-doctoral research associate.
“What (there's) to know about Pinehurst is that it is a former plantation,” Purifoy said.
While Pinehurst and nearby resorts are wealthy, surrounding towns have been largely left out due to municipal under bonding, which disproportionally affects minority groups. Municipalities draw their boundaries around undesirable communities, Purifoy said.
Past racial inequalities in society, along with social framing of different gender and racial groups, have led to inequalities in society, according to The Center for American Progress. This has made it harder for minority groups to escape poverty, attend college and take on high-paying jobs.
“Blacks have been constructed as a different social class all together,” Purifoy said.
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