The Legal Implications of 'Performing Race'

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Biology determines our racial phenotype: black, white, Asian, Indian, etc., but the complex history of race relations in the United States has also created a set of stereotypes about race based on how we act.

Our favorite music, the neighborhood in which we live, our religious affiliation, and even our names — we tend to judge each other based on these sociological characteristics. 

UCLA law professor Devon Carbado believes that these aspects of our identities are often the basis for discrimination. An employer may not judge an applicant by the color of his skin per say, but he or she may find more fault with a black applicant who fulfills certain stereotypes of African-Americans (an applicant who listens to rap music, for example), while a black applicant who seems to fulfill white stereotypes (listening to classical music, perhaps) is likely to be judged in a positive light.

Carbado explores these issues, and potential legal remedies, in his new book, co-authored with Mitu Gulati, "Acting White? Rethinking Race in 'Post-Racial' America."

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