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Scholar St. Mary's L. Rev. Race Soc. Just.


The events of fall 2016 exploded the myth of a post-racial America that some believed had been ushered in by Barack Obama’s presidency.1With the U.S. presidential campaign in full swing, soon-to-be President Donald Trump disparaged Muslims as terrorists, Mexicans as rapists and murderers, and African Americans as poor.2 Trump’s racist demagoguery came amidst the momentum of the Black Lives Matter,Standing Rock, and Dreamer movements—mass mobilizations that sought to end the police killings of Black people, protect Native American treaty rights, and grant immigrant minors legal status.3 Once again, the racial divide that has defined this nation since its inception 2019] RACE,RACISM,ANDAMERICANLAW 3reemerged in the national discourse with an intensity that exposed the fallacy of post-racialism.4The national anger, confusion, and vulnerability sown by that fall’s campaign reflected and reverberated in our community in Montana. They fractured our law school, our university, our state, and our city along lines of difference, not the least of which was racial.5 We would not know until November that Trump would be elected president. We would not know until after his inauguration that he would harden and intensify his racist agenda.6 But we sensed a new era had dawned, and therefore, we and our students needed to understand the undercurrents and urgencies of the moment. In response, we sought to reaffirm an anti-racist agenda and harness the ferment by finding common ground in the legal treatments of Native Americans, African Americans, and immigrants. That is how our seminar, “Race, Racism, and American Law from the Native American, African American, and Immigrant Legal Perspectives,” came to be.