Carving Out a Humanity

Race, Rights, and Redemption

The preeminent civil rights attorneys and scholars of the past quarter-century weigh in on some of the most controversial aspects of race and the law, published to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the prestigious Derrick Bell Lecture Series

“Beyond the ebb and flow of racial progress lies the still viable and widely accepted (though seldom expressed) belief that America is a white country in which blacks, particularly as a group, are not entitled to the concern, resources, or even empathy that would be extended to similarly situated whites.” —Derrick Bell

Carving Out a Humanity gathers some of our country’s brightest progressive legal stars in a volume that illuminates the facets of the law that have continued to perpetuate racial inequality and to confound our nation at the start of a new millennium.

“To what extent does equal protection protect?” asks Ian Haney López in a penetrating analysis of the gaps that remain in our civil rights legal codes. President of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund Sherrilyn Ifill describes the hypersegregation of our cities and the limits of the law’s ability to change deep-seated attitudes about race. Patricia Williams explores the legacy of slavery in the law’s current constructions of sanity. Anita Allen discusses competing privacy and accountability interests in the lives of African American celebrities. Chuck Lawrence interrogates the judicial backlash against affirmative action. And Michelle Alexander describes what caused her to break ranks with the civil rights community and take up the cause of those our legal system has labeled unworthy.

Originally delivered as Derrick Bell Lectures in a series at NYU School of Law, begun in 1995 and running up through 2019, Carving Out a Humanity offers an unprecedented array of today’s most creative and brilliant thinking on race and the law.