top of page

About the Review - Our Mission

Rutgers Race & the Law Review provides a forum for the analysis and discussion of the relationship between race and the law. The idea for the Race Review originated with students at Rutgers School of Law - Newark, who were perplexed by the fact that the school which has a progressive tradition and the largest affirmative action program in the nation, had no law journal specifically devoted to issues of race, ethnicity, and culture. Upon further research and discussion with the faculty, it became clear such a journal would not only be welcomed by the school, but would in fact play a crucial role in creating awareness in the legal community of the interplay between race and the law.


The Race Review has created a forum where legal scholars and students openly discuss issues of race as they relate to the law. Race frequently surfaces as an issue in the judicial system today, yet the availability of discussion in legal journals does not reflect the importance of its role. The goal of the Race Review is to fill this void.

The Original 1996 Journal Proposal

(Some bylaws have since been amended.)


This journal will provide a forum for scholarship addressing issues involving people of color from all over the world.


The Premier Law School. Rutgers School of Law - Newark has been called “the premier public law school of the Northeast” with a “progressive tradition” that includes “students who want to make a difference in society” and “graduates [who] have established a national reputation for public service and the highest ethical standards.”[1] In fact, Rutgers University includes within its goals “the continued provision of the highest quality undergraduate and graduate education along with increased support for outstanding research to meet the needs of society and fulfill Rutgers’ role as The State University of New Jersey.”[2] Indeed, the history of Rutgers School of Law - Newark also evidences a deep commitment to meeting the needs of society and to serving the public. For example, in the 1960’s, Rutgers School of Law “pioneered in developing clinical education and in providing the opportunity to study law to women and minority groups.”[3] Today, professors at Rutgers School of Law - Newark also continue the Rutgers tradition by expanding their scholarship around the world and by being involved in issues of societal concern.


The Minority Student Program (MSP), which rose from the aftermath of the 1960 riots in Newark, represented an effort by the law school community to better serve the surrounding minority communities of Newark and to meet the “overwhelming social need to increase the number of minority lawyers in the bar.”[4] In fact, between 1960 and 1967, Rutgers School of Law - Newark had only graduated 12 non-white students.[5] Today, minority students represent approximately 30 percent of each class at Rutgers School of Law - Newark.[6] Labeled such terms as “the harbinger of hope”[7] and the “haven,”[8] the MSP succeeds in meeting the needs of society as envisioned in the goals of Rutgers University and as intended by the founders of the program in the 1960’s.


The clinical education program at Rutgers’ School of Law was also born out of a growing social need for such a program. In response to requests by minority students for legal courses on urban issues and legal training to work with the indigent, a Tripartite Commission was created to recommend changes in the curriculum.[9] One result of the work of this Commission was the law school’s clinical program, which has received national attention.[10]


Additionally, the professors at Rutgers School of Law - Newark also uphold the tradition of public service and societal commitment. For example, in The Tradition, an alumni magazine of the Rutgers School of Law - Newark, Professor Saul Mendlovitz was noted for “promoting world peace” as an activist and co-founder of the Institute for World Order.[11] Professor Eric Neisser was interviewed on his involvement in addressing issues of hate speech in South Africa.[12] Professor Alfred Blumrosen was credited for his studies on the possibilities of instituting an American-style affirmative action program in South Africa.[13] Professor James C. N. Paul, known for his law development efforts in Third World nations and helping to found the International Center for Law in Development, was also recognized for his work in “strengthening human rights in Ethiopia.”[14] Dean Janice Robinson was mentioned for her involvement in conducting research and lectures on affirmative action and issues of access in the United Kingdom.[15] Finally, Professor Dorothy Roberts was credited for her research in areas of race, feminism and family.[16] Of course, these are just a few examples of professors continuing the Rutgers tradition.


The drafters of the instant proposal also share in the goals and tradition of Rutgers University and of Rutgers School of Law - Newark. We have identified a societal need for a varied discourse in law journals - specifically, discourse which addresses the topic of race as it relates to the law. This proposal recommends the initiation of a new law journal at the law school which will address issues of race and the law. As our research shows, the existing journals, not just this law school but at law schools across the nation, fail to significantly address issues of race and the law. Much like the way the Rutgers MSP changed the face of the bar, the Rutgers clinical programs changed the face of legal education, and Rutgers professors continue to change the face of law, the drafters of this proposal would like the opportunity to change the face of legal discourse as it currently exists. In the wake of the twenty-first century, the Rutgers tradition of serving the public and of diversifying the legal world should be celebrated in a journal that reflects this tradition.


I. Mission of this Journal


This journal will provide a forum that analyzes and discusses the law as it relates to people of color.


The Vision. The drafters of this proposal want to create a journal that will focus on issues which affect people of color with all types of political ideologies, philosophies and religions. Among the issues of concern to us are treaties, agreements and laws promulgated among different nations and their impact on people of color. Consequently, our focus will not be limited to national interests of race and the law, but will also include international interests of race and the law.


The Impetus. The idea for this journal originated with a few students who were perplexed by the fact that Rutgers School of Law – Newark, which has a progressive tradition and the only blatant affirmative action program in the nation, has no journal specifically devoted to issues of race. Upon further discussion and research of the topic with other students and with faculty, we realized that such a journal was desperately needed and welcomed by this school[17] and the legal community in general.


Scholars recognize that there is a need for journals which specialize in racial issues.[18] For instance, several scholars note, in their foreword to the first issue of the African-American Law and Policy Report, that “traditional law journals have neither the capacity nor the impetus to gather all aspects of the race question. Journals centered on race, gender, and sexual orientation are necessary to assist the development of communities of resistance to existing legal and social oppression.”[19] These scholars further explain:


All of the contributions to the debate that this premier issue presents allow an important discussion about race that majoritarian concerns impede. The majoritarian story basically states that race is not important or race can only be examined in a “colorblind” way or that race can only be considered if we do not upset the existing power arrangements that keep African Americans and other racial groups in their place. This journal is important to ventilate those concerns because the voices of the majority often cannot hear the cries of the less powerful. They drown them out while claiming to include. One way to turn this lack of power into voice and justice is to speak.[20]


We, therefore, would like to create a forum where legal scholars and students can simply “speak” on issues of race as they relate to the law. As our research will indicate, the existing traditional journals at law schools across the nation do not offer such a forum. Our hope is to fill a void that currently exists in these legal journals. Although race surfaces more and more as an issue in today’s legal world, there is a lack of meaningful and varied dialogue on the topic of race. When scholars and historians look back on the years 1996, 1997 and so on, they will look to the discourse published in legal journals in order to document and understand the issues of the time. When they do, we want them to find discussions which detail the various topics and issues which particularly affect people of color.


II. The Need for a Journal Focusing on Race and the Law.


Statistics Show This Journal Would Fill A Void.


The Need. There are currently very few law school journals dedicated to issues involving people of color. The existing law school journals which involve race are often only devoted to issues of one ethnicity (e.g. African-American Law and Policy Report, National Black Law Journal, La Raza Law Journal, Harvard Latino Review, American Indian Law Review, etc.). Consequently, these journals are limited in terms of their content. We applaud the purpose and mission of these journals; nonetheless, creating a law school journal dedicated to issues which affect different people of color would allow for a unique variety of scholarship. As far as we know, the Michigan Race and the Law Journal is currently the only such journal in existence.[21]


Presently, law school journals devote a minimum of space and time to issues involving people of color. A sampling of law school journals over a four-year period reveals that few, if any, of the articles published today focus on people of color. Journals of the top ten law schools in the country devoted just 1.85% of their articles to issues involving people of color (see Fig. 1). Moreover, the journals of law schools in the metropolitan area published even less such articles; a mere 1.3% of their articles address issues central to people of color (see Fig. 2). Practically speaking, scholarship addressing the legal issues most important to people of color barely exists. In fact, the majority of articles being written focus on issues like affirmative action and welfare.[22] A journal at Rutgers Law School committed to varying these issues would make an enormous contribution to legal literature. This journal would acknowledge the predominant role people of color play in society by addressing the legal issues which affect their lives. Thereby, this journal would not only broaden the scope of legal scholarship everywhere, but would also amplify our basic understanding of the world in which we live.




III. The Scope of the Journal.


The Journal will Address Issues of International as well as National Importance.


Emerging nations, International policies, and people of color. There have been broad and profound changes of the international scene in the recent years that have significantly affected the status of people of color. For example, the end of the “Cold War” and the abolishment of apartheid in South Africa have had a great impact on international relations and people of color. New nations are emerging out of these events, each with a new set of roles and responsibilities.


As these changes occur, nations must develop or enhance fundamental legal structures to deal with challenges. Although some nations have experienced significant progress in recent year, current events illustrate that there are still many areas of concern in international law regarding people of color. These concerns, however, are not being substantively addressed in existing legal journals.


This proposed journal would explore a variety of international issues relating to people of color. For example, some areas where information and exposure are needed include: the policies and practices of leading international financial institutions (e.g. International Monetary Fund); international nuclear policies; international economic agreements; issues implicating child welfare; AIDS and healthcare; international embargoes; international environmental issues (e.g. depletion of rain forest resources, illegal harvesting of waters, etc.); issues involving indigenous people; issues of autonomy and self-governance (e.g. Puerto Rico, Taiwan, East Timor, etc.); genital mutilation of women of color; international security agreements; and the proceeding and policies of international legal organizations (e.g. the United Nations, the International Court of Justice, etc.).

A wide range of national interests. On the national level, the articles published in legal journals pertaining to race, tend to limit their discussions.[25] There is, however, a much wider range of national issues that affect people of color. This proposed journal will provide an essential forum for scholars, students and academia to create a dialogue on many other issues of national concern. Ultimately, the journal aspires to affect the current national agenda as it relates to people of color. This dialogue will include such varied topic areas as: the justice system (e.g. sentencing guidelines, law enforcement, etc.); environmental justice; urban land use; issues involving gender; education; healthcare; children and families; community economic development; voting rights and redistriciting; access to technology; and political participation. Of course, this is by no means an exhaustive list of topic areas.


IV. The Spirit and Structure of this Journal


This Journal Embodies the Spirit of Racial Justice, Commitment, Success and Scholarship


We are a journal of inclusion. Despite the fact that we aspire to publish scholarship involving race, under no circumstances should that be taken to mean that only people of color are invited to participate or collaborate on this journal. Historically, the strongest coalitions have been built among people of all colors and backgrounds. These coalitions have contributed greatly to the advances made in the struggle for racial equity. It is our intention to bring these different voices together to share in the mission of this journal. The journal welcomes and encourages people of all races to join the journal and also invites them to submit articles.


We have taken measures to ensure the journal’s future success. In the past, other journals at Rutgers have been initiated by students. Some are still around; others are not. In order to ensure that our mission and this journal enjoy a long-lasting existence, a board of directors will be instituted. This board will be comprised of faculty and alumni who share our vision and will participate in the selection of scholarship published in the journal. Consequently, the board will monitor and advise the members of the journal, as it develops over the years, ensuring the direction and focus of the journal continue as was originally intended. Additionally, we have been in contact with the Editor-in-Chief of the Michigan Race and the Law Journal, Hardy Vieux. Mr. Vieux has discussed in detail with us such issues as fundraising, student recruitment and subscription solicitation. Mr. Vieux has offered the advice and guidance of himself and the members of his journal in helping us to get started. We have also sought the advice and guidance of the members of the Rutgers’ existing journals regarding issues of production.


The Journal will recruit new members via a student competition. We recognize that a writing competition is a valuable tool used to evaluate incoming journal members; however, we do not believe that a one or two week competition a good measure of a student’s writing ability. Instead, we will request that interested students submit a copy of their Legal Research and Writing Class appellate brief and a personal essay of less than two pages typed. The essay should be of the highest writing quality, and it should elaborate on the candidate’s desire to become a member. The existing journal members, during the law school’s traditional spring writing competition, will evaluate the packets and make offers to new members at the same time that the other journals make their offers.


The Journal will produce bi-annual issues. In order to promote the best scholarship possible and publish an outstanding journal, we will produce two issues per year: one in the fall and the other in the spring of each school year. The hard work and dedication required for each production cycle demands much time, and this schedule parallels that of many other established journals.


The Journal has and will attract prestigious scholars in the area of race and the law. We recognize that students often have difficulty attracting well-known scholars to publish in student-managed journals. This journal, therefore, will be a “refereed” journal. In other words, a group of faculty advisers, in collaboration with the journal’s Editor-in-Chief, will be selected to ultimately decide which articles will get published in the journal. Initially, scholars who wish to publish in this journal will interface with faculty members. Once the article has been accepted for publication, the authors will interface with the student members. Such a system ensures that the journal will attract prestigious scholars because such scholars are more-likely to submit their articles to, and face rejection from, their colleagues rather than law students. At the present time, several legal scholars have already agreed to submit articles for our first issue.


The journal is committed to minority-owned businesses. The journal is committed to the Newark community, and we will use the services of a minority –owned business in the area. In fact, Print Media Services (“PMS”) a small business in Newark, owned and operated by an African-American family, has agreed to perform all of our reproduction tasks. PMS is also assisting us with the graphic design and layout of the journal’s front cover.



[1] Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, 1994-96 Brochure: The State University of New Jersey, Rutgers, School of Law - Newark 1 (1994) (comments of Dean Roger I. Abrams.)


[2] Id. at 2.


[3] Id.


[4] Dale Russakoff, Rutgers Proud of Law School’s Set-Asides: Affirmative Action is Changing the Face of New Jersey’s Bar, Wash. Post, April 10, 1995, at 1 (quoting Professor Frank Askin). See also Patricia Alex, N.J. Offers Haven for Affirmative Action: At Rutgers Law School, Opportunities to Succeed, Bergen Rec., July 22, 1995, at A-1, A-6 (“[T]he primary aim of the program is to increase participation by ethnic and racial minorities . . . Indeed, the Minority Student Program is credited with helping to diversify the state bar . . . .”).


[5] See Alex, supra note 4, at A10.


[6] Dana Coleman, Rutgers Law Minority Program: Breaking Barriers, 4 N.J. Law. 2377, 2411 (1995).


[7] Office of Development, Rutgers School of Law - Newark, The Rutgers Tradition 2 (Fall 1994) [hereinafter Rutgers Tradition].


[8] See Alex, supra note 4, at A-1.


[9] Lauren McKeever, Justice for ALL, Rutgers Mag., Nov/Dec 1988, at 11, 12.


[10] Id.


[11] See Rutgers Tradition, supra note 7, at 10.


[12] Id. at 11.


[13] Id.


[14] Id. at 12.


[15] Id. at 13.


[16] Id. at 14.


[17] An informal poll conducted on the Rutgers class of 1998 day and evening shows that students support the creation of a race and the law journal by a ratio of 18 to 2.


[18] See, e.g., Frank Cooper et al., A New Journal of Color in a “Colorblind” World: Race and Community, 1 Afr. Am. L. & Pol’y Rep. 1 (1994) (discussing the need for a journal which specifically addresses issues relating to the African-American community); see also Kimberle W. Crenshaw, Foreword: Toward a Race-Conscious Pedagogy in Legal Education, 11 Nat’l Black L.J. 1 (1989) (arguing that there is a need for more legal discourse and analysis which incorporates racial perspectives).


[19] See Cooper et al., supra note 18, at 4.


[20] Id.


[21] The Michigan Race and the Law Journal is a journal of recent invention. Its first issue was released on April 13, 1996.


[22] For example, an overwhelming one-third of all the articles found in the sample address the issue of affirmative action.


[23] America’s Best Graduate Schools, U.S. News & World Rep., March 18, 1996, at 82.


[24] Id.


[25] See supra note 22 and accompanying text.

bottom of page