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Alchemy of Race and Rights
ISBN 0674014707 / 9780674014701 / 0-674-01470-7
Publisher Harvard University Press
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In a personal and profound examination of the United States legal system and its effect on African Americans, Patricia J. Williams uses the term alchemy--the medieval, mysterious practice of turning base metal into gold--as a haunting metaphor for the nearly mystical process by which United States law emboldens and endangers blacks through arcane interpretation, as well as the heroic will of a people to make those laws manifest. "I'm interested in the way in which the legal language flattens and confines in absolutes the complexity of meaning inherent in any given problem," she writes. "I am trying to challenge the usual limits of commercial discourse by using an intentionally double-voiced and relational, rather than a traditionally legal black letter, vocabulary."
With an authorial voice that draws upon Williams's perspective as teacher, lawyer, black American, and woman, The Alchemy of Race and Rights uses a palette of court cases, educational encounters, and personal experiences--including her discovery of her slave ancestor and her interactions with school deans over how to teach law--to create a literary cubist portrait detailing the rhetoric and reality that color the complexion of American justice. --Eugene Holley Jr. [via]