Monuments of American Sorrow
The COVID-19 pandemic not only exposed the socio-political and economic hardships that plague vulnerable communities across the United States, but it also challenged academicians with caregiving responsibilities. Teaching from home threatened the very notion of work-life balance. Compounding these pressures, faculty members were tasked with teaching online amidst the traumas of the continued police killings of unarmed Black people, the unanswered demands of Black Lives Matter protestors, the divisive rhetoric of a contentious presidential election, and the concentrated health effects of the coronavirus in low-income and minoritized communities nationwide. This Essay argues that such trauma weighs heavily on Black and other racially and ethnically minoritized law faculty who must balance teaching a legal doctrine that is often portrayed as neutral and colorblind, yet in many instances defines their very marginality, both inside and outside of the classroom. For such faculty, and for many law students alike, the idea of masking and social distancing and fighting the urge to succumb to physical, cultural, and spiritual fatigue are tools of survival that have been employed for far longer than the emergence of the novel coronavirus. These insights suggest that the true threat surfaced by the COVID-19 pandemic is not the coronavirus itself. Instead, it is something residing far deeper within us all.
Etienne Toussaint, Monuments of American Sorrow, 69 UCLA L. Rev. Disc. 128 (2021).