The Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor by Patricia J. Williams

Part 1

Patricia J. Williams, a well-known professor of the Columbia University and an excellent writer, is considered to be “one of the most provocative intellectuals in American law”. Her book The Alchemy of Race and Rights: Diary of a Law Professor includes a number of essays which discuss various issues connected with racial and legal cases. The author created a so-called new form of legal writing which includes not only personal narrative, but also critical theory and legal doctrine, and sociological research. This book represents an autobiographical writing which touches upon such problems as race and gender discrimination, violation of human rights. The author discusses some hidden histories of legal cases and some contemporary political issues of America.

The major task of the author is to prove the fact that honest people do not want to be exploited and dominated. They want to be equal and free. Patricia Williams represents her autobiography which is full of facts of discrimination and violence. Patricia Williams explores the US legal system and its influence on African Americans.

It is important to mention that the author’s poetic and emotional language, which she uses in her writing, helps the readers to feel the seriousness of the situation, and to realize that it is necessary to make some changes in interpersonal relations in our society in order to avoid race and gender discrimination. The author of the book is sure that the study of some court cases and some educational problems, as well as the representation of personal experiences, which include the story of her slave ancestors and problems with deans concerning teaching law at school, is very important for future law specialists.

Moreover, the author uses the term alchemy in the title of the book in order to represent the law as a so-called methodological text, which includes the Constitution and the rules of commerce, wage inequalities, as well as race and gender inequalities. She tries to find the way out of the existing situation in our society, and pursues the major goal ”“ to gain racial justice.

As Patricia Williams is a person of strong character who knows a lot in the field of law, and who tries to share her knowledge with others, she gives a chance to the readers to experience the sense of community. Her book shows how a Black woman fights against social disunity, and how she applies her experiences to practice. The author wants her writing to be accessible to the community where she works. However, in some cases, her ideas are not supported.

The author represents the information in the form of a diary which includes many legal cases, current events, her family conversations, and some political issues concerning the life of African Americans. Patricia Williams cares about the future of our society, where there are still a great deal of inequalities and pieces of injustice in all spheres of human activity.

Part 2

     As my goal in this paper is to identify a passage from the book, which is the most important and interesting for me, I’d like to discuss the one that is connected with Patricia William’s teaching career. Here is the passage where the author tells about some peculiar details of her teaching career experiences. She writes: “A man with whom I used to work once told me that I made too much of my race. “After all,” he said, “I don’t even think of you as black.”Â Â Â Â Â Â   Yet sometime later, when another black woman became engaged in an ultimately unsuccessful tenure battle, he confided to me that he wished the school could find more blacks like me. (Williams 10)

Here the author tries to show that the blacks are treated in different ways. Although some white people think that the blacks made too much of their race, it does not mean that their relation to them is equal and just. In order to continue this issue, I’d like to represent another passage. Patricia Williams writes: “My abiding recollection of being a student at Harvard Law School is the sense of being invisible. I spent three years wandering in a murk of unreality.

Law school was for me like being on another planet, full of alienated creatures with whom I could make little connection”. (Williams 55)

This quotes tell us about the psychological problems of Patricia when she was a student. She tried to be invisible because she had a complex of inferiority. I think that is the major reason of her present day problems in teaching career. She writes: “At a faculty meeting once, I raised several issues: racism among my students, my difficulty in dealing with it by myself, and my need for the support of my colleagues. I was told by a white professor that “we” should be able to “break the anxiety by just laughing about it.” Another nodded in agreement and added that “the key is not to take this sort of thing too seriously.” (Williams 166)

This passage proves the fact that Patricia’s relation to racial problems is too serious. Of course, I think that Patricia’s colleagues should support her in this issue, and explain the students that they are wrong in some questions.

However, I think that she should not take it so seriously. It is necessary to put the end to the racial intolerance among students, and the faculty of any educational institution is responsible for it.

Part 3

1 It is known that Williams discusses the issue concerning intersection of commerce and the Constitution. What links business with politics in the USA?

2 Patricia Williams, as Black feminist, recognizes the inconsistency of policy and institutional practices. How does she examine the current occupational status of women of color?

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