Warren: The Next Frontier

Massachusetts Democrat participated in 2004 ‘Critical Race Theory’ symposium

June 15, 2012

Democratic Massachusetts Senate candidate Elizabeth Warren’s speech at a symposium on critical race theory—where other speakers were advocating for corporate reparations, criticizing the concept of U.S. citizenship, accusing America of operating under a system of "apartheid," and pointing out the misogynistic undertones of wearing makeup—may not help her connect with independent Massachusetts voters, experts say.

"Independents outnumber Republicans and Democrats in Massachusetts. If Elizabeth Warren alienates too many independents, then Scott Brown will win this election," said political commentator Jay Cost.

Warren cites her academic and legal background as a key portion of her biography, but little scrutiny has been given to her scholarly activities during her years as a professor.

Warren was listed as one of the program participants for "Critical Race Theory: The Next Frontier," a symposium held March 19, 2004, at Washington and Lee University in Lexington, VA.

"The Critical Race Theory movement can be seen as a group of interdisciplinary scholars and activists interested in studying and changing the relationship between race, racism and power," according to Critical Race Theory: An Introduction by Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic.

In addition to giving a well-received speech at the event, Warren also published an article in connection with the symposium in the Fall 2004 issue of Washington and Lee Law Review entitled "The Economics of Race: When Making it to the Middle Is Not Enough."

Warren’s piece discusses the economic disparity between whites and nonwhites in the context of home foreclosure and bankruptcy.

Warren wrote, "A growing body of work examines how black families are having much greater difficulty accumulating wealth and how tax codes or other seemingly neutral statutes systematically disadvantage black families."

"Hispanic and black homeowners face sharply increased risks of filing for bankruptcy as compared to their white counterparts," Warren wrote. "These data reinforce the view that middle class Hispanic and blacks are far more vulnerable to the financial difficulties facing every family."

University of Texas Law School professor A. Mechele Dickerson also attended the event. Dickerson quoted Warren’s book The Two-Income Trap in her 2005 paper "Caught in the Trap: Pricing Racial Housing Preferences."

Dickerson argues in that paper that middle-class parents exhibit racial bias in determining whether schools for their children can be deemed "safe."

Middle-class parents prefer "nonminority" schools for their children, Dickerson argues. Thus all school assignments, Dickerson writes, must be made "without regard to the student’s street address."

Dickerson also argues in the paper that black parents should be allowed to sell their child’s slot in a "white school" to white parents so that black children can attend black schools.

Another attendee was Duke University professor Mitu Gulati. He has argued that corporations hire only a minimum number of minorities, who seek to limit access to other minorities. "Indeed, strong incentives exist for minorities to race to the top of the corporation and pull the ladder up behind them when they get there," Gulati wrote in his 2004 paper "Race To The Top Of The Corporate Ladder: What Minorities Do When They Get There."

The use of face makeup in the American workplace assures that women are subordinate to men in the office as in private life, Gulati also wrote.

"Through makeup, women could perform gender palatability and gender comfort. Makeup signified that gender integration would not mean the disruption of gender hierarchy. Indeed, precisely because of the social continuities of makeup—namely, that women wore makeup across the public/private distinction—men could be assured that, at the end of the day (at home), and during the day (at work), women were going to be women—which is to say, subordinate to men," Gulati wrote in his piece "Makeup and Women At Work."

Gulati told the Free Beacon his "memory about that conference is not great," but he did recall that critical race theory expert Dorothy A. Brown organized the symposium.

Brown was a panelist for Nation People of Color Conference in 2010, where keynote speakers included Rev. Jesse Jackson.

"It is unnecessary in twentieth-century America to have individual Negroes demonstrate that they have been victims of racial discrimination; the racism of our society has been so pervasive that none, regardless of wealth or position, has managed to escape its impact," Brown wrote for Washington and Lee Law Review in 2004.

UCLA Law School professor Rachel Moran also attended the symposium. Moran has written that U.S. citizenship allows Americans to ignore the suffering of others.

"Americans are not immune to the impulse to ignore the suffering of others. Somehow, we convince ourselves that ‘they’ are not like ‘us’—though they had toiled, contributed and lived among us.  Our detachment reflects the hubris that comes of wrongly privileging our citizenship over our humanity," Moran wrote in her piece "Terms of Belonging," which was published in the book The Constitution in 2020.

Loyola University of Chicago law professor and symposium attendee Steven A. Ramirez, meanwhile, has written that corporations should give reparations to "marginalized communities."

"I also maintain that race problems are inextricably linked to economics: ‘The very concept of race amounts to the wanton and pervasive destruction of human capital,’" Ramirez wrote in 2006.

"Indeed, it may well be that the pursuit of a program of reparations could be profitably pursued by a consortia of corporations that in the past have profited from sordid racial policies," Ramirez wrote.

Ramirez’s statements cohere with Warren’s own views on economic inequality and tax fairness. "There is nobody in this country who got rich on his own. Nobody," Warren has said.

She has also spoken of an "underlying social contract" which requires successful businessmen to "take a hunk of (their earnings) and pay forward for the next kid who comes along."

Ramirez told the Free Beacon that economic inequality was the main cause of the U.S. financial collapse, and that economic equality must be the nation’s goal.

"The mantra of the United States is, ‘Whatever works for the megabanks, for the CEOs, for the wealthy, then that’s what we should do,’" Ramirez told the Free Beacon. "That’s no way to run a capitalism [sic]."

"Elizabeth Warren was one of the outstanding speakers" at the symposium, said Ramirez.

St. John’s University Law Professor Cheryl L. Wade also attended the symposium.

"I believe that race discrimination among corporate actors is one of the primary causes of the economic divide between African Americans and whites," Wade wrote in a 2004 piece for Washington and Lee Law Review, adding "I do not believe that racism can be eradicated."

Wade told the Free Beacon that all corporate executives are inherently racist, and that studies show racism is growing in our society.

"We are all racist. This is what we inevitably inherit. We are all inherently biased. I believe the people who run corporations are biased, particularly against African-Americans. I think it’s implicit, subconscious. They’re not necessarily aware of it. The people who run corporations are primarily white men. They favor people who are like themselves, as everyone does," Wade said.

"Research shows that there is an increase in the number of nooses being left in offices to intimidate minority workers," he said.

Wade told the Free Beacon that fairness should be the primary guideline by which corporations should operate, even at the expense of profits.

"My position is that we as a society have decided that discrimination is wrong and diversity is correct, so corporations should be good citizens. Companies can’t focus solely on the bottom line," Wade told the Free Beacon.

"We as a society allow corporations to exist. We allow flesh-and-blood people to come together and do business in the corporate form, so we should expect them to behave responsibly," Wade added. "The guideline should be fairness. We should expect our corporations to operate on a standard of fairness."

Wade’s views on gender are also noteworthy.

"Men and whites are promoted more frequently and earn more, and the implied contextual message is that these decisions are based on merit," Wade wrote in her 2006 paper Transforming Discriminatory Corporate Cultures: This is Not Just Women’s Work. "The implication is that even with diversity training, diversity officers, and codes of conduct that prohibit discrimination, whites and men climb to the top of the corporate hierarchy anyway. It is an implied message of white male superiority."

Harvard professor David B. Wilkins also attended the conference with Warren. Wilkins has spoken on critical race theory and has written that black Harvard Law grads perform more pro bono hours than whites.

Wilkins also stated in 1996 that Harvard Law School had no Native American faculty—which may also complicate Warren’s race for Senate.

"The fact that there never have been Asian Americans, Native Americans, gays, lesbians, Latinos, Latinas and women of color [on the faculty] is a subject of major concern," Wilkins told the Harvard Crimson.

Warren has recently been accused of exploiting Affirmative Action programs by telling Harvard Law School that she was Native American—a claim that has no documented basis in fact.

Warren began teaching at Harvard Law School in 1992.

"It appears that her presence (at the symposium) has some common threads that are potentially dangerous for her in the election," said Massachusetts-based pollster David Paleologos of Suffolk University. "It's outside of the mainstream, in terms of appealing to independents. It ties into the Native American issue. It ties into the conversation about class warfare. This is something the Brown campaign could exploit, but the Brown campaign still needs to be careful about painting her with 50 shades of hypocrisy. There could be blowback."

Warren is no stranger to environments in which radical leftist thought is discussed and advanced. She has also spoken at events sponsored by Demos, a George Soros-funded progressive think tank chaired by her daughter, Amelia Warren Tyagi.

One of Demos’ stated aims is "rethinking American capitalism."

The Warren campaign did not return a request for comment.