Justice in “Color of the Law” (Rothstein)

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In The Color of Law Richard Rothstein shows us the intentional practices that segregated America. Rather than taking on the very broad issues–state-sponsored segregation–focus on a particular element that interests you. In all of your papers, I would like you to combine at least two forms of justice: environmental, economic, and racial. If you want to discuss all three, you can, but try to create a hierarchy so that you are not overwhelmed and so that you have a clear area of focus. You have a few choices of how to engage his book: 1) Starting from Rothstein’s scholarship, focus on an issue that is important to you in a specific chapter. From there, consider how you think we should go about fixing the issue you select. If you like, imagine you are writing to a powerful person or audience: Congress? The (new) President? Make sure you clearly discuss the issue, finding alternatives to Rothstein’s views Look at the possible directions Rothstein suggests for how to remediate a problem/issue. Offer your own solutions, doing research to suggest the pros and cons to your solutions. For instance, in Chapter 7 he discusses how the Constitution’s Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth amendments ensure equal status for African Americans. From there he discusses the IRS and tax exempt status. You could decide to focus on the amendments, if you like. How do you think we could use these amendments to fight de jure systemic segregation? Make sure you take a look at Chapter 12, “Considering Fixes.” You do not need to be bound by this. You can go beyond his points or think of points of your own. 2) A lot of you were angry that you did not know any of this until now. To what extent do you think children (define your age groups here) need to know the information in the book? Create a curriculum for what should be taught about de jure segregation, from what perspective, and make sure you discuss the consequence of your curriculum for the children and the country. Make sure you clearly discuss the focus of your curriculum. See if you can find any existing inclusion of this material in curricula. Make sure you take a look at Chapter 12, “Considering Fixes.” You do not need to be bound by this. You can go beyond his points or think of points of your own. Directly address the forms of justice that your proposed curriculum would highlight and the wrongs it would redress. 3) Write a paper targeted to a group who would be hostile to Rothstein’s argument. Explain the issues, try to win them over to accept the fact of de jure segregation, anticipate their objections to your position, and see if you can think of ways to frame the argument that will address their fears, while stying true to Rothstein. The Toulmin system might really serve you well here. Focus on the warrants of both sides. Clearly know and name your imagined audience. Make sure you have outside, supporting material for your position and anticipate counter-examples. Requirements for ALL Paper Topics: 1) A strong opening (could be a paragraph, could be a few paragraphs) that sets up the issues and context, and that clearly frames the importance of your ideas and thesis. You do NOT need to have a “hook.” 2) A clear thesis that argues a position and that states the consequence of that position. 3) Detailed analysis of and quotation from The Color of Law 4) Use and analysis of at least 5 peer reviewed articles about your narrower focus, depending on your choice of paper topic. 5) Use of at least 2 reviews of the book: use these as you need to support your assertions about the book, or to show a strength or weakness you might not have considered. 6) Use and analysis of at least 3 other articles that provide background info or historical info. Use what you need. Choose reliable sources. Online is OK. 7) Begin your paragraphs by arguing a position or point. Do not merely describe. 8) Make sure your transitions logically connect your ideas. 9) Aim for an inspiring conclusion that does not repeat the paper. 10) Make sure you address two of our three forms of justice at least somewhere in the paper: maybe that is the frame or context for your paper? Maybe the issue you decide to focus on invokes these two forms of justice? Up to you–but don’t forget about these. 11) About 2000-2500 words. MLA format with in-text citations and Works Cited at the end. Double-spaced, please, with a title and a subtitle. If you want to go longer, you can: but make sure that your length comes from a SECOND draft whose language has been tightened and revised, and whoagnse ideas do not repeat.

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