Shauna Marshall joined the Hastings faculty in 1994 as a Clinical Law Professor. Prior to joining the faculty, she spent 15 years working on behalf of the public interest. She began her career as a trial attorney for the US Department of Justice, Antitrust Division. Five years later, she joined Equal Rights Advocates as a staff attorney working on impact cases, policy initiatives and mobilizing campaigns on behalf of low income women and women of color. She then spent four years in the Stanford and East Palo Alto community, lecturing in the areas of civil rights and community law practice at Stanford Law School and directing the East Palo Alto Community Law Project. She served as Hastings Associate Academic Dean from 2000 – 2002 and Academic Dean from 2005 – 2013. She stepped down as Academic Dean in 2013 and joined the emeritus faculty in 2014. Professor Marshall writes in the area of community law practice and social justice. Professor Marshall’s greatest joy is mentoring future social justice advocates. In her new semi-retired role, she is able to meet former students for lunch, a drink or a cup of coffee and learn about the amazing work they do with their UC Hastings degree.
During her free time, Professor Marshall likes to travel with her family, read novels, take Zumba classes and spend weekends at her home in Clayton, California.
Alina Ball is the founding director of the Social Enterprise & Economic Empowerment Clinic at UC Hastings College of the Law. This in-house corporate law clinic is a unique blend of transactional lawyering while critically examining issues of economic and social justice. Her scholarship focuses on the intersections of corporate law, community lawyering, clinical pedagogy, and critical race theory. She was recognized as a 2015-16 Bellow Scholar for her corporate representation and collaborations to increase access to safe drinking water in rural communities. Prior to joining the faculty at UC Hastings, she was a Clinical Teaching Fellow with the Harrison Institute for Housing and Community Development at Georgetown University Law Center, representing low-income residents in affordable housing, real estate transactions.
Before her career in academia, Professor Ball was a corporate associate at Morrison & Foerster LLP, in San Francisco and Washington, DC, where her practice focused on representing private and public companies in debt, venture capital, private equity, and M&A transactions. She received her LLM from Georgetown University Law Center, J.D. from UCLA School of Law, with a specialization in Critical Race Studies, and B.A. degree from Wellesley College, majoring in Mathematics and Spanish, with a concentration in Latin American Studies.
She is actively engaged in community work and is honored to serve on the board of directors for several nonprofits, including Public Advocates.
Full transcript below
Areca Smit [00:00:11] You’re listening to Black Hastings Speaks, a production of UC hastings Law and its Center for Racial and Economic Justice. I’m your host, Areca Smit. This series was created in the aftermath of the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd, and amidst the 2020 uprising sparked by these tragedies. The goals of the project are to foster healing, build connections, encourage systemic change, and deepen empathy on issues of anti-Blackness.
Areca Smit [00:00:45] In this episode, you’ll hear Professor Alina Ball and Professor Emeritus Shauna Marshall, who co-direct the Center for Racial and Economic Justice. Professor Ball started at UC Hastings in 2013 and is the founding director of the Social Enterprise and Economic Empowerment Clinic. Professor Marshall has been at the College since 1994, taught in the Individual Representation Clinic and previously served as Academic Dean for eight years.
Alina Ball [00:01:20] So to start off, let me just ask, how are you feeling today, given everything that’s going on? Tell me what your gut check is.
Shauna Marshall [00:01:28] So I vacillate these days between feeling really hopeful, very tired, and also very frustrated that it’s 2020, that I have been working on racial justice issues since I was a teenager, so we’re talking well over 50 years and we still have so long to go. But I do feel that the current climate gives us a moment of opportunity, because I do believe the world understands now that our oppression isn’t just a matter of a few bad apples or a few prejudiced people, but it is a systemic problem. Because our house, the United States, was built on a foundation of genocide and slavery. And those twin sins, because we’ve never really acknowledged them, understood their consequences, or repaired them, keep bubbling up.
Shauna Marshall [00:02:44] And I’m hoping this latest bubbling up will begin to address some of the underlying systemic issues that really need change. Tying that back to our Center and our desire to develop a pipeline program so that we do diversify the academy and we do see more people of Color who’ve had–who’ve come from backgrounds are really connected to marginalized communities of Color, it is in one of the ways White supremacy plays out in a law school is that there is such a rigid and narrow view of what makes a good academic. So when you hear your colleagues say, “oh, I don’t know if they can make that switch,” or, “I don’t know if they’re theoretical enough,” most of us who go to law school, we go to law school because we know our communities are suffering and we want to be advocates and we want to be advocates for social change. So, when you say, “oh, they’re too much of an advocate,” well you then eliminate so many potential faculty of Color. Because we don’t go to law school with the same–necessarily–ideals as people who know they want to be law professors. And when you say, “they can’t make the pivot,” but you don’t say, “but we will mentor you through that pivot,” and when you’re not open to a wider variety of scholarship that includes advocacy, you begin to really narrow the field. And I think one of my hopes for our pipeline is to educate our faculty on how their limited notions of who an academic is really narrows the pool. And yet they’re not doing anything to either shift the criteria, . .or take the time to mentor the person to make that shift.
Shauna Marshall [00:05:08] So, I’m hoping our Center through its pipeline program will also be instructional for some of our faculty to see, “oh, yeah, the standards that we use are mirroring me and make me feel wonderful about me, but are also keeping the status quo in place.”
Shauna Marshall [00:05:30] And, you know, our timing with everything coming apart in the world means that maybe this is an opportunity for some of our colleagues to do some internal assessments and–and rethink what makes an academic.
Alina Ball [00:05:51] Absolutely. I hope so. I wanted to ask a little bit more in terms of–you said, you know, everything’s falling apart in the world. So let’s talk a little bit more about that. What is some of the background information you wish people had to contextualize this moment, to contextualize these uprisings?
Shauna Marshall [00:06:15] All right, do you have three or four years? So, you know, one of the things that amazes me is actually how ignorant we are about our history and how we’ve compartmentalized people of Color’s history, in this country as: Black history, or African-American history, or Asian-American history, or history of Latino folks, et cetera; and we don’t see that as American history. And, you know, as I was saying before, we were built–this foundation is very wobbly because we were built on genocide and slavery. But I think what people don’t know and what I really hope this moment shows is that there has been a systematic progression of not only violence against the Black body, but in keeping Black people and other people of Color–but I am going to talk as a Black person in Black Hastings Speaks–oppressed and shut out of opportunities. So, you know, it starts not only with bringing us over as slaves in the most inhumane way, chained to bottom of boats, already signaling to the world that these bodies aren’t bodies that are human and need to be treated humanly, to our early slave codes in the 1600’s and early 1700’s, starting in Virginia and spreading to Maryland, which . . .
Shauna Marshall [00:07:58] legalized black people as property–said, you know, “if you hurt her or kill her, you may owe the slaveowner money for damage to that property. But you never will be prosecuted. You can’t go to jail for hurting your property.”
Shauna Marshall [00:08:14] And that was followed by the cruelest system of slavery in humankind. We finally get rid of slavery. And immediately with Lincoln’s death, Johnson turns the lands back over to the slaveowners. Within 12 years, all the federal support is taken away from the South. And since the 13th Amendment said, “you can no longer enslave people unless they’ve committed a crime,” “oh,” the South thinks, “let’s develop the Black Codes so that just about anything a Black person does is a crime, and then, we can re-enslave them as prisoners, or if they get out of line, or get too successful like they were in Tulsa, Oklahoma, we will continue the legacy of violence against their bodies.” And then as the African-American moved north fleeing terror, the North welcomed them by putting them in poor neighborhoods with underfunded services, keeping them from jobs, locking them up–and, you know, one of the things that I think is also really important is this sense in our country of, “if you work hard, you get ahead.” And–and that’s never been true for African-Americans as a race. We can work really hard without getting ahead. And one of the biggest boons for the American middle class came after World War II, right? So we have these segregated armies. My father’s still alive. He fought in World War II. He was in the 92nd Division. Who did they always send in first to battle? The Blacks and the Japanese because we were the fodder. Yet you come back to the United States, there are all these wonderful G.I. bills that allow for homeownership and college money, and we were legally kept out. Levittown, the government of the United States said, “if you build Levittown, you have to have an–an explicit clause that you will not sell to Black–” Our government did that. So what created the middle class? We were left out. We were redlined out. We were then overpoliced. Drugs are introduced to our communities. And then there’s this outcry of, “why haven’t they done better? Slavery has been over.” And you punctuate that with the violence now not being perpetrated by the lynch mobs, but by the police. And every African-American in this country knows, no matter what our income is, that when we’re stopped, our life is in danger. I was taught that as a girl–I grew up in a middle class, mostly Jewish neighborhood. I was stopped by the police as soon as I got my license, every other month. None of my friends were ever stopped by the police. And if I should have Black teenage boys in the car with me, all bets were off. We all know this. And yet we’ve just turned a blind eye to it, because in my heart of hearts, my most cynical side feels as though once slavery was over, this country didn’t really know what to do with us. We now no longer had our–the value of being free labor.
Shauna Marshall [00:12:20] And what do we now do with all these Black people? And so we have been terrorized and kept from opportunities, and our bodies have always been a source of violence. And so when you have a president who leads with division, the violence of the masses is encouraged. And here we are today. And I know that was a really long answer, but it’s a really entrenched problem.
Alina Ball [00:12:56] You said so many–so many great things, I was thinking about how you just described the enslavement of Black people as History, and I was remembering my grandmother–my great grandmother, actually, used to tell me stories of her grandmother who was born enslaved. And I think there’s this idea for most people: the enslavement of people in our country is just that; it is history. But it is not history for us. This is–this is my story. These are stories I was told.
Alina Ball [00:13:35] I was told stories as a little girl at my great grandmother’s lap. I was hearing stories about enslavement and how our family was taken apart and removed across the country, right? Those were those were things that we know, right? These are this is part of how our identity is formed.
Shauna Marshall [00:13:55] Right. All of that pain and our mass incarceration is just another manifestation of separating our families again, and–and taking away parents and putting children in foster care systems.
Shauna Marshall [00:14:14] And I’ll never forget when I went to college and I saw–this, you know, I’m old, so I’m a girl of the 60s. But I saw the incredible use of all sorts of illicit drugs, right? And not–you know, the campus, if you got caught smoking marijuana or dropping acid, you know, they would take you away and counsel you. But it never left campus. You never–the police were never called. And I thought about how people in Harlem, where my grandmother lived, we’re doing the same things and they were locked up for life, and so overpoliced. And then, you know, now in doing all these studies–in reviewing studies for my class, I have learned that in the white community, about seven percent of the white population abuses drugs. In the Black community, it’s about seven-and-a-half percent abuse drug, even though drugs are constantly introduced into our neighborhoods. Yet, in our community, we’re arrested at six-to-seven times for drug abuse and given so–you know, on the whole crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. And, you know, for us to act like this isn’t systemic allows us not to really address our deep rooted oppression of a people. It always makes me nuts how we have, as a society, come to create a fear of the Black man as this violent predator whose body has been more damaged and violated since its arrival in this country second to none other than the genocide of Native peoples. So, second to that. And Black women, who have been the biggest victims of rape by white men since the beginning of this country, . . .
Shauna Marshall [00:16:44] We are displayed as sexually promiscuous. And then white men worry about black men raping their women when, you know, those of us of many colors in the African-American community, . . .Much of that started because of the rape of Black slaves. And it’s just amazing how we’ve turned it all in the other direction. “Oh, Black men will rape your women!” “Oh, Black men are violent,” when it’s White men who raped our women; and it was White men who destroyed Black bodies. And it’s just interesting how we were a–how society was able to take that narrative, get buy into that narrative and turn the reality on its head.
Alina Ball [00:17:40] So at its height, Shauna, how many Black faculty has Hastings had during your tenure?
Shauna Marshall [00:17:47] So at its height, height, there were all of five of us. So when I came, there were three African-American men. Keith Wingate, I think being the first to be tenured, followed by H.G. Prince, and then Richard Boswell was hired as a lateral. I was then hired as a clinical tenure-track person and probably–and was the first black woman. I think you’re the second tenured at Hastings. That’s pretty pathetic. We’re the old school west of the Mississippi. And then we hired Osagie Obasogie. So, at one point there were five of us. And then Osagie, as we all know, went to Berkeley. Keith, myself, and H.G. retired; although I’m an active emeritus. And we hired you. So right now we’re down to two, although I know the faculty loves to count me. But I’m receiving a pension. I am not a tenured member of the faculty. So at our height we had all of five.
Alina Ball [00:18:56] We have never had a black woman on the tenure track in a purely doctrinal position?–Never.
Shauna Marshall [00:19:04] Well, not that I know of. And if she was on the track, she never got tenure.
Shauna Marshall [00:19:11] So . . . . You know, at one point, when I was academic dean H.G. was the associate academic dean, followed by Keith, and Elise Traynum was the general counsel. So, you had three African-Americans for a period of five years in senior management. I don’t think we have one person of color in senior management.–No.
Alina Ball [00:19:36] What does it feel like when a person is being an ally and working as an ally?
Shauna Marshall [00:19:44] Right. You know, yesterday I was watching Christiane Amanpour’s broadcast and they had an old–old interview of this woman, Robin DiAngelo, who’s a White woman who wrote the book, “White Fragility.” And she, I thought, talked and really got what it means to be an ally.
Shauna Marshall [00:20:06] And she said, she understood that because she was working with people of Color, doing diversity and then implicit bias training and was called on some of her implicit biases. And she said the first thing that she did was she got defensive, like, “don’t call me on things. I’m on your side. I’m a good guy.” And then she realized later that, “oh, my God, how entitled am I to presuppose that I really understand what it’s like to be a person of color doing this kind of training or working in this particular environment. And I need to stop being defensive, not out of guilt, but just sit back and listen and learn, and not think that I have all the answers and to begin to really question where I get defensive; because where I get defensive,” she said, “is probably where, if it changes, I may lose some of my privilege.” And–and I think in an academic setting where people all think of themselves as incredibly bright and they know the answers, and are not involved in the frontline work so they’re a little removed and feel as though they’re good people and they’re trying to do the good fight; that kind of defensiveness is something I see all the time. And a good ally means you can admit that you’ve never walked in my shoes, you’ve never really lived in my community, and on these issues, you need to just listen and support. And when you get defensive, you need to think about, “why am I being defensive? What is it that I am really scared of letting go of?” Because when you do that work, I think what you’ll find is, you’re scared of really giving up all the bennies that come with what you think you’ve earned all on your own. But some of what you earned is was given to you just by the color of your skin. And it reminds me of something my dad does.
Shauna Marshall [00:23:04] My dad is a riot because he claims in his heart of hearts he’s really a socialist, but he’d call it controlled capitalism because people can’t handle socialism. But when you ask him how much money should someone have before it’s too much? It’s always slightly more than what he has, right? So he doesn’t have to give up any of his wealth, right? And I think that’s what happens with allies. It’s always right where their life doesn’t have to change. And so a good ally realizes, “you know, this world will be–I may not have all the same privileges and my kids may not have all the same opportunities, but these people have been dealing with this for four hundred years.” An ally learns to listen, to support, and when they get defensive to check, “why am I being defensive?” and to be willing to really share the platform. These issues really need attention in a serious way.
Shauna Marshall [00:24:26] And . . . I’ve been teaching this race course and it just alarming to me how little of what I teach is part of the core curriculum, and it all needs to be part of the core curriculum. If we don’t start having more courses and conferences and strategies for systemic change and theories of systemic change that could come out of an academic setting, we won’t make progress and the school won’t just do this on its own.
Shauna Marshall [00:25:06] And we will never have more courses and more diverse faculty without our Center; sad as it may be. And as much as faculty members give approval to the idea of more courses and more faculty of color, . . . It doesn’t end up in action that leads to that outcome. So, . . .We’re going to do it and hopefully we’ll create allies who really get it along the way.
Alina Ball [00:25:51] I think of, you know, racial subordination as the original sin of this country, which not only have we not reckoned with, but we’ve just built additional sins on top of. And that to understand the law, and that’s what we do at a law school, we–we–we create lawyers, and to really understand the law, the formation of the law, the doctrinal . . .
Alina Ball [00:26:20] Meaning of the law, it has to be contextualized within racial subordination and the subordination of marginalized groups, generally. So, women, sexual identity, to name a few. And that that is just a necessary part of the intellectual endeavor of being part of this legal profession. And quite frankly, a lasting legacy of white supremacy is that we think of issues of race as not being intellectual, “you know, you’re not an intellectual if you talk about race.” This actually mirrors what you were saying earlier in terms of the difference between an advocate and an academic.
Alina Ball [00:27:05] And so, you know, the the academic doesn’t sully their analysis with complex issues such as race–race and gender and subordination. And so if we don’t talk about it, if we don’t have these areas to really shine a light on it and to develop curricular interventions for how faculty can engage these issues meaningfully in their classrooms, we’re not going to do it otherwise. Or there are actually, of course, there are people who are going to do it, but they’ll continue to be at the margins, right? And this is–this is so fundamental to our understanding of our legal system. It actually needs to be at the center of a lot of what we do. And so it makes sense to have a center of excellence, which I hope the Center for Racial and Economic Justice will be. That really shines a light on that. This isn’t going to be our last conversation. I’m already scheduled to speak with you tomorrow morning. But if it were the last conversation we were to have, is there anything you’d want to say to me as the only Black female on our faculty at Hastings?
Shauna Marshall [00:28:22] Don’t give up on your colleagues. And I know this sounds so trite, but speak truth to power nicely. I remember once I was at a faculty meeting and we were talking about either bar passage or the GPA for good standing and I got up and said something–I’m sure I was tenured–about the fact that–or maybe it was in the context of LEOP, something to the effect that the people that you’re making judgments about, you’ve not lived there experience. And when you say something, and I know it’s well meaning, “oh, we shouldn’t let them in if they’re gonna have to take the bar more than once.” I said, “don’t put your value system on them.” Taking the bar twice, given everything they’ve done to get to law school, is not necessarily a big deal for them, but it’s a huge deal for their community when they pass that bar. And I said it with a little humor and without anger. And my advice to you–it shouldn’t have to be this–is that speak to your colleagues honestly, do it with patience, do it with humor, same with your students so that they can hear you and grow. And I remember Keith Wingate kidding me in saying, “man, how come they listen to you when you said that?” I said, “because I’ve learned to do it with calm and a smile and conveying that I have faith in you I have faith in you to take this journey with me, to bring about change.”
Areca Smit [00:30:43] Thank you for listening to Black Hastings Speaks. To hear all of the episodes of this series and learn more about the participants, go to www.uchastings.edu/speak.