D I S C R I M I N A T I O N    &    N A T I O N A L    S E C U R I T Y    I N I T I A T I V E    --    B L O G
  DNSI Home - http://pluralism.org/affiliates/kaur_sidhu/
  Pluralism Project - http://www.pluralism.org
  Harvard University - http://www.harvard.edu

Monday, September 26, 2005


August 22, 2005- After speaking with DEAN KOH at Yale Law School, we had a long and rich conversation with KENJI YOSHINO (pictured), Deputy Dean of Intellectual Life and Professor of Law. I first met him on Yale Law’s admit day, when we had a small group discussion about law and discrimination. We picked up the discussion today and delved deeply into assimilation, discrimination, and covering.

Since revolutionary times, Professor Yoshino began, the magic of assimilation has been part of the American dream: that if you assimilate, you will be able to escape discrimination. But since the 1960s, people began to see the dark underbelly of assimilation: that pressuring people to assimilate and hide parts of their authentic identities is a form of discrimination called covering.

To cover, he explained, is to tone down a disfavored identity to fit into the mainstream. When racial minorities are pressurd to 'act white', women to downplay their child-care responsibilities at work, gays not to 'flaunt' their homosexuality, they are covering. The law no longer allows categorical prohibitions against groups based on race, class, or sex. But it does not extend far enough to protect people who choose not to lose authentic parts of themselves by conforming.

The assimilation ideal was already gaining strength in recent American consciousness. Then 9/11 sealed the pressure on particular groups of Americans to cover: to lose their Arabic, drop their veil, or remove their turban. The law continues to enforce this assimilation: it still does not allow a workplace to discriminate against Sikhs categorically, but it will allow a workplace to discriminate against Sikhs with turbans. The law still does not protect those who maintain parts of their identity that they could change.

Attorney AMARDEEP SINGH of the Sikh Coalition spends all his time fighting precisely these battles for recognition. For example, the law was not set up to protect KEVIN HARRINGTON (below right) who was asked to remove his turban after working as a train operator for the MTA for twenty-three years. Or AMRIC SINGH RATHOUR (below left) who faced years of litigation in order to wear his turban in the NYPD.

Professor Yoshino proposes that we work toward a pluralistic society that removes the legal and cultural pressure to cover. Perhaps the most appealing part of Professor Yoshino's argument for pluralism is that it applies to everyone, because all of us cover. Each of us feels pressured at one time or another to hide parts of our identities that are outside of "the mainstream." What is the mainstream? The mainstream is a myth, he explained. Even if you are a straight, white male, you may still be obese, poor, depressed, or insecure about a part of yourself. Each of us has our own struggle for authenticity and recognition. This is precisely why all of us would benefit from the expansion of civil rights and a culture that embraces difference.

After our interview, Professor Yoshino and I (he's the one on the right) discussed his upcoming book, Covering: the Hidden Assault on our Civil Rights, available early next year. Our conversation made me eager to start law school next year-- it had the same affect on the rest of our crew who were all engaged in the discussion:

After a long day at Yale, the film crew traveled back to New York City for one final interview... More to come. Join us!

[This entry is cross-posted on "Into the Whirlwind."]

Valarie     direct link     0 comments   Email post: 

Post a Comment

<< Home

About DNSI

The Discrimination & National Security Initiative (DNSI) is a research entity that examines the mistreatment of minority communities during times of military action or national crisis.

More Info:
DNSI Home Page

The Blog

Why a Blog?
The purpose of this web-log is to offer news and commentary in a fluid, dynamic format while our more substantive reports are forthcoming.

Recent Posts
Dean of Yale Law School
Homegrown Gangstas
"CAIR-PHILLY Offers To Mediate Firefighter Beard D...
FX series "30 Days" to be Honored by Muslim Group
Massachusetts Governor: Mosques Should be Wiretapp...
"France Names Muslim Chaplain for Prisons"
DNSI's Valarie Kaur in the News
9/11 Anniversary Marked with Call for Racial Profi...
Four Years Ago Today
Research shows growing alienation among Australian...

04/01/2005 - 05/01/2005
05/01/2005 - 06/01/2005
06/01/2005 - 07/01/2005
07/01/2005 - 08/01/2005
08/01/2005 - 09/01/2005
09/01/2005 - 10/01/2005
10/01/2005 - 11/01/2005
11/01/2005 - 12/01/2005
12/01/2005 - 01/01/2006
01/01/2006 - 02/01/2006
02/01/2006 - 03/01/2006
03/01/2006 - 04/01/2006
04/01/2006 - 05/01/2006
05/01/2006 - 06/01/2006
06/01/2006 - 07/01/2006
07/01/2006 - 08/01/2006
08/01/2006 - 09/01/2006
09/01/2006 - 10/01/2006
10/01/2006 - 11/01/2006
11/01/2006 - 12/01/2006
12/01/2006 - 01/01/2007
01/01/2007 - 02/01/2007
02/01/2007 - 03/01/2007
03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007
04/01/2007 - 05/01/2007
05/01/2007 - 06/01/2007
06/01/2007 - 07/01/2007
07/01/2007 - 08/01/2007
08/01/2007 - 09/01/2007
09/01/2007 - 10/01/2007
10/01/2007 - 11/01/2007
11/01/2007 - 12/01/2007
12/01/2007 - 01/01/2008
01/01/2008 - 02/01/2008
02/01/2008 - 03/01/2008
03/01/2008 - 04/01/2008
04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008
05/01/2008 - 06/01/2008
06/01/2008 - 07/01/2008
07/01/2008 - 08/01/2008
08/01/2008 - 09/01/2008
09/01/2008 - 10/01/2008
10/01/2008 - 11/01/2008
11/01/2008 - 12/01/2008
12/01/2008 - 01/01/2009
01/01/2009 - 02/01/2009


Religious Diversity News-Pluralism Project

Into the Whirlwind
Human Rights in India
Ethnic Confusion Britain
Anil Kalhan
Sepia Mutiny

Feeds, etc.

(c) 2005 Discrimination & National Security Initiative 1531 Cambridge Street Cambridge, MA 02138