The Role of the Legal Services Advocate in the 21st Century

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  • 1. The Role of the Legal Services Advocate in the 21 st Century john a. powell Director, Director Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity Williams Chair in Civil Rights & Civil Liberties, Moritz College of LawDetroit Legal Aid and Defender AssociationJanuary 14, 2009 1
  • 2. The Role of a LawyerAdvocate onbehalf of theclients in thecommunity.This is dictatedby theb th needs of d fthe community. 2
  • 3. But the world is changing . . . communities are changing 3
  • 4. Detroit is ChangingAbout one-third of the city lies empty and unused. 4
  • 5. 5
  • 6. What is the Role of Legal Services in S Society? ?What does globalization mean for Legal Services? 6
  • 7. What happen in Detroit can affect the world . . .. . . And what happens in the world affects Detroit 7
  • 8. Nothing/No one exists in a vacuum But we act on the assumption that everything can be separated, isolated, d i l t d and fixed or changed out of context.Photo from 8
  • 9. Law is Segmented 9
  • 10. Our Ways of Viewing Problems are Segmented Segmented 10
  • 11. We segment race and classIt is easier to call something a classproblem than a race problem.We still view racism as individual, andracial di i l disparities – if not called class iti t ll d ldisparities – would implicate society asinherently ( d consciously racist).i h tl (and i l i t) 11
  • 12. The problems clients face are not always segmentable Is this: • A credit issue? •Neighborhood disinvestment? •The result of a subprime l Th lt f b i loan? ? •Reverse redlining?Sometimes “problems” are symptoms of a largerstructure 12
  • 13. Poverty is one part of the problem,and the part most often highlighted f 13
  • 14. But . . . Race Matters• Two thirds of black children born from 1985 through 2000 were raised in neighborhoods with at least a 20 percent poverty rate, compared with just 6 percent of white children. children.• Half of black children born between 1955 and 1970 in families with incomes of $62,000 or higher in todays dollars grew up in high-poverty high- neighborhoods. But virtually no white middle- middle- income children grew up in poor areas. areas. Source: The Pew Charitable Trusts Economic Mobility Project 14
  • 15. Opportunity is Racialized pp y• In 1960, African- 1960, African- School American families in Segregation & Lower poverty were 3 8 times 3.8 Educational Concentrated Outcomes more likely to be Poverty concentrated in high- high- poverty neighborhoods t i hb h d than poor whites. Increased Neighborhood Flight• In 2000, they were 7.3 2000, t ey e e 3 000, 000 Segregation of Affluent Families times more likely. 15
  • 16. Opportunity is SpatializedStructural racialization involves a series of exclusions, often anchored in (and perpetuating) spatial segregation.spatial segregationHistorically marginalized people of color and the very poor have been spatially isolated from opportunity via reservations, Jim Crow,  , ,Appalachian mountains, ghettos, barrios, and the culture of incarceration. 16
  • 17. We are situated in differentenvironments and contexts 17
  • 18. Th Ch ll The ChallengeThe h llTh challenges f faced b D t it are not d by Detroit tentirely unique.– Geography: What Detroit is facing is part of a larger phenomena impacting the “rust belt” and other Midwestern states. Population loss: aging population, “brain drain” of the young and educated, central city population loss Economic transition and job loss Regional f fragmentation Tremendous segregation Sprawl and urban decline The Core “Rust Belt” 18 18 Region
  • 19. What Causes these Challenges? Ch ll ? Structural Inequality q y• Equity Requires looking at Structures• Different communities are situated differently with regards to institutions• Institutions mediate opportunity• Structural Inequality – Example: a Bird in a cage. Examining one wire cannot explain why a bird cannot p y fly. But fl B t multiple wires, lti l i arranged in specific ways, reinforce each other and trap the bird. 19
  • 20. Structural Racialization Context: The Dominant Consensus on Race White privilege National values Contemporary culture Current Manifestations: Social and Institutional Dynamics Processes that maintain racial Racialized public policies and hierarchies institutional practices Outcomes: Racial DisparitiesRacial inequalities in current levels of Capacity f individual and community C it for i di id l d it well-being improvement is undermined Ongoing Racial Inequalities 20Adapted from the Aspen Roundtable on Community Change. “Structural Racism and Community Building.”  June 2004
  • 21. System Interactions 21 21Source: Barbara Reskin.
  • 22. 22The Cumulative Impacts of Spatial, Racial and Opportunity Segregation Segregation impacts a number of life-opportunities life- Impacts on Health School Segregation Impacts on Educational Achievement Exposure to crime; arrest Transportation limitations and other inequitable public services Neighborhood Job segregation Segregation Racial stigma, other psychological impacts Impacts on community power and individual assets Adapted from figure by Barbara Reskin at: 22
  • 23. The Importance of Place: Place:We ll live inW all li i opportunity structures called “neighborhoods” t it t t ll d “neighborhoods” i hb h d A Tale of High and Low Opportunity Structures Low Opportunity High Opportunity• Less the 25% of students in Detroit finish high school • The year my step daughter finished high school, 100% of the students g , graduated and 100% went to• More the 60% of the men will spend time in jail college• There may soon be no bus service in • Most will not even drive by a jail some areas • Free bus service• It is difficult to attract jobs or private capital • Relatively easy to attract capital• Not safe; very few parks • Very safe; great parks• Difficult to get fresh food 23 • Easy to get fresh food
  • 24. What can we do? When tackling large societal problems, such as spatial inequality, Our traditional strategies seek to remedy a single cause of disadvantage, whereas urban inequality is fueled by a system of interactive factors. 24
  • 25. So how can we approach these structural problems? ? Is this: • A credit issue? •Neighborhood disinvestment? •The result of a subprime l Th lt f b i loan? ? •Reverse redlining?Let’s look at the structure . . . 25
  • 26. Credit finance underwent a26 change… change Pre Depression: p The Two Party Housing Market Party Party 1 2 Seller Homebuyer (and/or) Lending Institution The Post Depression FHA Era: The Three P t Mortgage Market Th Th Party M t M k t Party y Party y Party y 1 2 Lending 3 Government Homebuyer Sponsored Institution Institution purchases, insures or underwrites loan Based on research by Chris Peterson, University of Utah Law School 26
  • 27. …a transformative change aThe web of actors andinstitutions involved in thesub-prime lending market Created by Chris Peterson, Peterson University of Utah Law School What can we do? How do we look for solutions? 27
  • 28. The Danger of UniversalismUniversal programs do nottarget marginalized groupst t i li dwhen distributing benefits orburdens.These programs are oftenracially disparate in effect.Social Security is a universalprogram that distributesunevenly. l 28
  • 29. the need for systems thinking Atomistic At i ti Systemic The problem:  poisonous treeThe problem:  bad apples 29
  • 30. An analysis of any one  area will yield an  incomplete Health understanding. Childcare Employment HousingWe must consider how We must consider how Effective Education Ed ti institutions interact  Participation Transportation with one another to  produce racialized  outcomes. 30
  • 31. Systems ThinkingFrom a systems perspective causation perspective,is cumulative and mutual.– Outcomes are caused by many actors’ and institutions’ actions and inactions institutions over time and across domains– Outcomes are the result of causes that accumulate over time and across domains. 31
  • 32. Linked Fates…Transformative Change Our fates are linked yet our fates have been linked, socially constructed as disconnected (especially through the categories of class class, race, gender, etc.). – We need socially constructed “bridges” to transform our society. t f i t – Conceive of an individual as connected to— to— instead of isolated from—“thy neighbor.” from— 32
  • 33. Linked Fates…Transformative ChangeTension is dynamic and p y positive ( (constitutive). )The situated nature/essence of the Self (and itsmultiplicity): – Social justice (external) – Spirituality (internal)We are the same and different. Because we arethe same, di l h dialogue i possible. B is ibl Because we aredifferent, dialogue is necessary. 33
  • 34. Linked Fates…Transformative Change“…suffering is a central concern of social justice as well asone of the foundations animating spirituality…not only i f th f d ti i ti i it lit t l isthere a relationship between spirituality and social justicebut that this is a recursive relationship that runs in bothdirections…Thedirections The insubstantial nature of the self cut off froma more substantial source and its final demise is the heartof spiritual suffering…[Social/surplus suffering] is the resultof social arrangements and as a result, it can be madebetter or worse by these arrangements. Social practicescurrently institutionalize power which causes subjugationand suffering that need not exist. While all of us aresubject to existential suffering, social suffering i visited on bj t t i t ti l ff i i l ff i is i it ddifferent people to varying degrees.”- john a. powell 34
  • 35. Systems Fatigue 35
  • 36. In the past 5 years . . .The world has turned upside down 36
  • 37. It can be done 37
  • 38. Opportunity Maps Massachusetts Legal Services employed the use of “opportunity maps” to visualize the local problems faced by their li t b th i clients such as h access to jobs, healthful food food, transportation, and g good schools. 38
  • 39. Systemic Legal Advocacy In Seattle, Columbia Legal Services , g program dealing with homeless youths has moved from individual representation to the more holistic systemic advocacy: legislative advocacy, litigation, and community development. developmentSee, FromSee “From Street Lawering to Systemic Lawyering: Meeting theBasic Needs of Unaccompanied and Homeless Youth ThroughSystemic Legal Advocacy" by Casey Trupin and Richard A. Wayman, 39first published in Clearinghouse Review, July-August 2005.
  • 40. Systems Advocacy in Action: Thompson v HUD: v. HUD: Proposed remedy– Baltimore: Lagging in a growth region (Maryland’s DC Counties are not keeping pace with th tk i ith the rapid job growth in Virginia’s Counties)– KI submitted expert reports in p p both the liability and the remedy phases of the litigation, on behalf of plaintiffs– Used GIS to analyze current conditions of segregated public housing (liability phase) and frame solutions for desegregation (remedy phase) in a regional context 40
  • 41. Sytems Advocacy in Action:NYTimes Article, January 14th, 2009: , y– Justice Dept. Fights Bias in Lending– WASHINGTON — The Justice Department is beginning a major campaign against banks and mortgage brokers suspected of discriminating against minority applicants in lending, opening a new front in the Ob th Obama administration’s response t th d i i t ti ’ to the foreclosure crisis.“We are looking at any and every p g y y practice inthe industry,” Mr. Perez said in a recentinterview. 41
  • 42. Transactional v. Transformative Change Change 42
  • 43. How are Impact Projects Transformative? f ? 43
  • 44. For more information, please visit us online at www kirwaninstitute org 44