Rocky Mountain Collective on Race, Place & Law
The Rocky Mountain Collective on Race, Place, and Law (RPL), formed in 2013, is a group of Colorado legal academics and administrators working together to identify and address racial inequities in the U.S. and around the globe. We offer a critical lens on the complex dynamics of power, locality, and law, and their impact on subordinated communities. As scholars rooted in critical legal theory, we recognize the intersectionality of all individuals. Through our teaching, scholarship and activism we aim to expose and challenge law’s role in perpetuating inequities based on race, class and gender and other sources of disadvantage. We employ our collective efforts and expertise to effect change and pursue social justice.
Statement of Principles
The following principles inform our teaching, scholarship, activism, and organization
- Antiessentialism – We resist attributing particular sets of traits to particular groups, or to individual members of those groups.
- Antisubordination – We are concerned about subordination, power, and substantive justice, rather than mere formal equal treatment.
- Globalism – We believe that subordination is both a local and a global phenomenon, and that our principles and values can inform and be informed by subordinated communities, both domestically and internationally.
- Hegemony – We believe that power works not only directly and coercively but also hegemonically – that power affects the ways people perceive “reality” as well as their understandings of what constitutes “knowledge” about the world.
- History – We believe that critical engagement with history is centrally important to understanding how power operates through race, gender, sexuality, and class to de-center and marginalize the lived experiences of subordinated peoples.
- Intersectionality – We recognize the multidimensionality of individual identity and the complex, mutually reinforcing relationships among systems of subordination.
- “Meritocracy” – We question the notion of “meritocracy,” and the assumption that standards of “merit” can be neutral under current social conditions.
- Multiplicity of Non-Whiteness – We recognize that non-whiteness takes many forms and has varied impacts.
- Praxis – We believe in doing as well as talking, in working to make real change in the world.
- Privilege – We believe that group-based privilege, such as race, class, gender, and heterosexual privilege, are pervasive in society.
Critical Race Reading Seminar
Critical Race Reading Seminar | L47xx
This seminar provides a unique opportunity for Denver Law students to earn one credit by studying a significant topic related to the law and racial justice in a team-taught format. The seminar will allow students to begin to develop 1) a substantive understanding of the application of critical race theory to a variety of contemporary legal and social issues, and 2) a sense of professional identity through the examination of lawyering practice in the context of critical race theory. Topics discussed generally change each semester to respond to current events and pressing needs and interests.
For spring 2019, this course will focus on Racial Justice in Colorado. We will examine racial justice dynamics, law, and policy from Colorados past and present. We will engage in the interdisciplinary study of both the law and narrative, and read a range of texts, including essays, law review articles, cases, and news articles, and more. When possible, we will also get out of the classroom and explore important places of racial justice history in our state. While there will be two main law professors (Alexi Freeman and Lindsey Webb) for the class, different faculty members will lead various sessions and there may also be guest lectures from faculty and practitioners in other disciplines. Students will thus have an opportunity to interact with an array of professors who have expertise and interest in critical race theory and practice. Students will receive a letter grade based on their participation in class, field observations and corresponding reflective exercises, and a final paper.
Faculty: Alexi Freeman and members of the Rocky Mountain Collective on Race, Place and the Law.
Credit Hours: 2
RPL Sponsored Activities & News
Activities & News 2020-2021
November 10, 2020 - Post-election Event - The Next Four Years View Poster
October 27, 2020 - Ian Haney Lopez Event View Flyer
October 15, 2020 - Election Integrity View Poster
October 5, 2020 - RPL Student Alumni Connection Reception View Flyer
September 24, 2020 - Student Welcome Reception View Poster
September 22, 2020 - RPL Academic Support Session View Poster
August 16, 2020 - Discussion with First-Year Students "What to Expect"
July 1, 2020, Session #1: Teach-In: What it Means to Be an Anti-Racist
July 14, 2020, Session #2: Teach-In: Why Prison Abolition? Why Defunding the Police? Exploring the Racial History and Current Landscape of Policing and Incarceration
July 29, 2020, Session #3: Fruitvale Movie Viewing and Discussion
June 2020 - The Link between Well-Being and Inclusion by Patty Powell Read Article
Past Activities & News 2019-2020
Professor Catherine Smith testified on February 24th, 2020 in support of the CROWN Act of 2020 before the Colorado Senate Judiciary Committee. The CROWN Act (“Creating a Respectful and Open World for Natural Hair Act of 2020) is designed to address discrimination on the basis of hair, a particularly pernicious form of race discrimination against African-Americans, especially African-American women and girls. Black men and boys, and people of Jewish, Latinx and Native American descent have experienced similar struggles. The CROWN Act would prohibit this kind of race discrimination. Professor Smith teaches and writes in the areas of civil rights and employment discrimination. Her testimony will focus explaining why hair discrimination is race discrimination by explaining our country's history of using skin color, nose width and hair texture as a means to control and stigmatize Black people and other historically marginalized groups.
Past Activities 2018-2019
March 19, 2019 - Faculty Training on Microaggressions/Managing Difficult Conversations
March 6, 2019 - Venezuela: What Corporate Media Aren't Telling You Watch Video
Spring semester 2019 - Critical Race Reading Seminar
April 18, 2019 - Alumni-Student Reception
Spring semester - Advising and Tutoring Safe Zone in the Multiculturalism Office
November 13, 2018 - RPL Post Election Town Hall
October 30, 2018 - Colorado Immigration Detention
October 10, 2018 - Community Discussion on Sexual Assault and Kavanaugh Hearings
Sept 7, 2018 - Self Identified Diverse Students Reception
August 8, 2018 - Students of Color Welcome in Orientation
Past Activities 2017-2018
Real Black Power Workshop
Black Panther Movie Night
February 26, 2018
Exam Prep Workshop
October 6, 2017
Self-identified Diverse Students Reception
Students of Color Welcome Reception in Orientation
Past Activities 2016-2017
Crimmigration Law Lecture Series
Over the Spring 2016-Fall 2016 year, we are thrilled to partner with the DU Latino Center for Community Engagement and Scholarship and the Center for Multicultural Excellence to host a year-long “Crimmigration Law Lecture Series.” Over the course of these two semesters, we have had or will have ten outstanding crimmigration scholars visit to share their latest work on race and crimmigration with us, our students and colleagues, and members of the DU and Denver communities. Below is a list of the upcoming lectures for the Fall 2016 term. The past lectures of Spring 2016 can be located in the past events section below.
October 14, 2016 - Mass Deportation and Global Capitalism
Lecture by Tanya Golash-Boza, Associate Professor, University of California, Merced Department of Sociology
Workshop by Amada Armenta, Assistant Professor of Sociology, University of Pennsylvania. Moderated by Professor Golash-Boza. View Flyer
November 11, 2016 - Lessons From Arizona
Lecture by Ingrid Eagly, Professor, University of California, Los Angeles Law School
Workshop by Annie Lai, Assistant Clinical Professor of Law, University of California, Irvine School of Law, and Todd Miller, Journalist and Author of “Border Patrol Nation,” Moderated by Professor Eagly. View Flyer
Past Activities 2015-2016
Crimmigration Law Lecture Series
March 3, 2016 - Crimmigration and Race
Lecture by Kevin Johnson, Dean, University of California, Davis School of Law
Workshop by Yolanda Vázquez, Associate Professor, University of Cincinnati, and Linus Chan, Visiting Associate Clinical Professor, University of Minnesota. View Flyer
April 19, 2016 - Crimmigration Detention
Lecture by Jennifer Chacón, Professor, University of California, Irvine School of Law
Workshop by Mariela Olivares, Associate Professor Howard University School of Law. Moderated by Professor Chacón. View Flyer
Analyzing the Law Through a Racial Justice Lens
RPL is co-sponsoring this series of events, lunch time lectures with follow up small discussion groups.
Monday, Nov. 16, 2015 - Book Launch: Crimmigration Law
RPL is co-sponsoring a book launch for Prof. César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, whose new book “Crimmigration Law” was just released. View Flyer
Past Activities 2014-2015
Equal Protection Initiative
January 28, 2015 - Panel #1: “Does Equal Protection Law Protect the Privileged?” View Recording
Keynote Lecture: Angela Harris View Recording
Analyzing the Law Through a Racial Justice Lens
RPL is co-sponsoring this series of events with the DU ACLU and BLSA chapters, and the Associate Dean of Institutional Diversity and Inclusiveness. The series includes four lunch lectures by RPL faculty and four follow-up small group discussions throughout the semester. Each lecture will dive into a different pressing legal matter and how that area of law relates to racial justice. Interested students will be placed into follow-up discussion groups of 5-8 students with a professor. View Flyer
February 2, 2015 - Prof. Robin Walker Sterling, “Ferguson Follow-Up”
February 18, 2015 - Profs. Lisa Graybill & Alexi Freeman, “Race, Communication, & Mass Media”
In collaboration with the Critical Cultural Studies Lecture Series, with guest CU-Boulder Ethnic Studies Prof. Daryl Joji Maeda
March 4, 2015 - Prof. Nancy Ehrenreich, “Race and Reproductive Rights”
March 25, 2015 - Prof. César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández, “Race and Immigration”
February 23, 2015 - Film Screening: No Sanctuary
Film about the impact of private prison corporations on the growth of immigration detention. The 30-minute screening will be followed by a discussion moderated by Profs. Lisa Graybill and César Cuauhtémoc García Hernández.
April 22, 2014 - Ian Haney López, “Dog Whistle Politics”
RPL hosted a lunch and lecture with Professor Ian Haney López, John H. Boalt Professor of Law at the University of California Berkeley School of Law, open to the entire DU community.
February 27, 2014 - Osagie Obasogie, “Blinded by Sight”
RPL hosted a faculty luncheon with Professor Osagie Obasogie, University of California-Hastings College of the Law, on the connection between the doctrinal and empirical aspects of Race in the Law. Co-sponsored by the office of the Associate Dean of Faculty Scholarship.
Constitution Campus Clearinghouse
In response to the election of Donald J. Trump, who has variously promised to end the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and deport or incarcerate all undocumented persons present in the United States, students and others have called on campuses across the country to provide some form of campus “sanctuary.” The Constitution Campus Information Clearinghouse is intended to gather information about what a sanctuary policy could contain, and address policy and legal arguments pertaining to various sanctuary provisions.
Legal, Social, and Political History of Sanctuary
J. H. Baker, The English Law of Sanctuary 2 The Ecclesiastical Law Journal 8 (January 1990)
Pirie, Sophie H. (1990) “The Origins of a Political Trial: The Sanctuary Movement and Political Justice,” Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities: Vol. 2: Iss. 2, Article 7
Comment, Sanctuary the Legal Institution in England, 10 U. Pugent Sound L. Rev. 677 (1987)
Karl Shoemaker, Sanctuary and Crime in the Middle Ages
Linda Rabben, Sanctuary and Asylum, A Social and Political History (2016)
Memorandum from Theodore B. Olson, Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, to Deputy Attorney General, Church Sanctuary for Illegal Aliens (Oct. 31, 1983)
History of “Sanctuary” Campuses
The Conversation What’s the history of sanctuary spaces and why do they matter? (12/13/2016)
Léopold Lambert, The University as a Sanctuary: The Architecture of Our Own Bastions (November 24, 2016)
Victor Silverman, Miguel Tinker Salas & Gilda Ochoa, Sanctuary Center of Higher Education: Background, Definition, and Proposal
Alia Wong, The Renaissance of Student Activism, The Atlantic (May 21, 2015)
The Nation, A Graphic History of Student Activism (Jan. 27, 2012)
- Legal and Policy Considerations
- Sanctuary City Statements
President Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration
1/25/17 Executive Order, Border Security and Immigration Enforcement Improvements
1/25/17 Executive Order, Enhancing Public Safety in the Interior of the United States
1/27/17 Executive Order, Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States
- Litigation Responses to President Trump’s Executive Orders on Immigration
Responses of the Academic Community to President Trump’s Executive Order of January 27, 2017
American Association of University Professors Stand Against the Muslim Ban
Association of American Universities Statement
American Association of University Professors Frequently Asked Questions for Faculty in the Wake of the 2016 Election
Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities Statement
International Higher Education Consulting Blog’s List of College and University Statements
National Association of Diversity Officers in Higher Education Statement
Map of Constitution Campus Efforts
- DU and Denver Area Community Resources
Additional Resources for Non-Citizens
Sanctuary campus Resources (compiled by Northeastern Law Prof. Rachel Rosenbloom and law student Alyssa Telander)
Penn State Law School Center for Immigrants’ Rights Clinic, Immigration After the Election
AAUP’s Sanctuary Campus Day of Action Guide
Harvard University Undocumented at Harvard
Creating Law Enforcement Accountability & Responsibility Guidance
Immigrant Defense Project ICE Raids Toolkit