In honor of Constitution Day, UIC Law in Chicago featured Dr. Karen Korematsu, Founder and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute, and L. Song Richardson, Dean and Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the University of California, Irvine School of Law, during separate events.
Dr. Karen Korematsu is the daughter of the late civil rights icon, Fred Korematsu. Fred Korematsu was convicted for refusing to comply with Executive Order 9066, which called for the relocation and detention of Japanese Americans during WWII. His case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court on constitutional grounds, where the ruling was upheld in a 6-3 decision. While Fred Korematsu’s name was cleared in federal district court in 1983, the SCOTUS decision stands.
Since her father’s passing in 2005, Dr. Karen Korematsu has carried on his legacy as a public speaker, educator and civil rights advocate. In 2009, she established the Fred T. Korematsu Institute to advance racial equity, social justice and human rights for all. The Institute’s work has since expanded from K-12 civic education to promoting civic engagement and public participation. In 2015, Dr. Karen Korematsu was inducted as the first non-lawyer member of the National Asian Pacific American Bar Association.
Dr. Karen Korematsu spoke to the UIC community about the importance of upholding and fighting civil liberties and the U.S. Constitution through the lens of her father’s landmark case. During the presentation, she also shared her perspectives on current issues, including ICE detention facilities and the Black Lives Matter movement.
Dean Richardson spoke on “Suspicion Cascades: Race, Policing, and the Criminal Justice System.” Richardson is a leading expert on implicit racial and gender bias, race and policing, and police violence. She has worked with police departments to understand and address the impact of race on their policing practices.
Richardson presented her theories on how stereotype threat, masculinity threat and unconscious racial bias can be used to predict actual police violence. She provided data from supporting studies about how the male police officers who are worried they will be perceived as racist are more likely to shoot Black suspects than officers who are not concerned about being stereotyped as racist. Similarly, police officers in hypermasculine departments who are concerned about being viewed as sufficiently masculine are more likely to use violence against non-compliant suspects than those who are secure in their masculinity. Officers with heightened levels of stereotype or masculinity threat can, when interacting with Black suspects, exhibit nervous behaviors, which can lead to suspects mirroring that behavior. The police officer might then perceive the suspect’s nervous behavior to be threatening, thus leading to violence.
Archived recordings of both presentations are available on the Law School’s YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLXlQ7VTNroxppvxkkKtIlWKzsx3S_NJ5M