Reading Back, Reading Black, and Buck v. Bell

  • I. Bennett Capers


When I was in law school, the main task was to master the black letter law. It was only after law school, when I gained some distance, that I realized that there was also another type of law that was equally important, which I’ve come to think of as “white letter law.”1 Unlike black letter law—which brings to mind statutory law, written law, the easily discernible law set forth as black letters on a white page—“white letter law” suggests societal and normative laws that stand side by side and often undergird black letter law but, as if inscribed in white ink on white paper, remain invisible to the naked eye.2 Still later, I realized that part of what I was bringing to the law was a different type of reading, a reading that was both counterhegemonic and attuned to the frequencies and registers of race—a reading practice I described in an essay titled Reading Back, Reading Black.3


District Attorney Reading Practice African American Culture Eugenic Movement Race Matter 
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© Lovalerie King and Richard Schur 2009

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  • I. Bennett Capers

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