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Judy Scales Trent

Professor of Law at the University at Buffalo and Author Who Has Won Praise for Her Powerful New Ideas About Race in America

Judy Scales-Trent is Professor of Law at The State University of New York at Buffalo. Before joining the law school faculty in 1984, she practiced law at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for twelve years. Professor Scales-Trent received a J.D. from Northwestern University Law School, and has a Masters degree in French language and literature…

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Judy Scales-Trent is Professor of Law at The State University of New York at Buffalo. Before joining the law school faculty in 1984, she practiced law at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for twelve years. Professor Scales-Trent received a J.D. from Northwestern University Law School, and has a Masters degree in French language and literature from Middlebury College. She teaches courses in employment discrimination law and constitutional law. She also teaches a seminar on law and literature, and a seminar on the legal construction of “race” in America.

“My major research interest has been “race” in America, and the complicated nature of that concept. So, for example, I have written a lot about the intersection of race and gender in American law. This includes both legal analyses (e.g., “Black Women and the Constitution: Finding Our Place, Asserting Our Rights”), as well as the results of social science research about a public interest law firm (“Equal Rights Advocates: Addressing the Legal Issues of Women of Color”). I have also written about the intersection of race and color in American life (“Notes of a White Black Woman: Race, Color, Community”). And more recently, in my latest publication, I compared the American concept of “race” to the Nazi concept of “religion” through an analysis of the racial purity laws of both states (“Racial Purity Laws in the United States and Nazi Germany: The Targeting Process”).

Two of my earliest passions in life – literature and the French language, have come to play an important role in my recent work. In the fall of 1997, I spent a month in France thinking about the intersection of “race”/ethnicity and gender in that country. It led me to study the lives of immigrant African women (“African Women in France: Immigration, Family, and Work”). It also led me to Dakar, Senegal, on a Fulbright, during academic year 2000-2001. While there, I taught a course on comparative constitutional law (U.S./Senegal) at Université Cheikh Anta Diop de Dakar, and began a research project on Senegalese women lawyers.

My love of literature led me to create a seminar on literature and law several years ago. wanted the students to remember the power and value of literature, and to remember to keep it in their lives (“Using Literature in Law School: The Importance of Reading and Telling Stories”). Since my return from Senegal, in my law and literature seminar, we are reading mainly Senegalese literature, translated from the French.”

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