The Trauma of Injustice
"In this talk, I build upon the arguments I made about cultural trauma in my article, The Trauma of the Routine: Lessons on Cultural Trauma from the Emmett Till Trial, which was published in Sociological Theoryin 2016. In Trauma of the Routine, I argued that, for certain subordinated groups such as Blacks and under certain circumstances, cultural trauma narratives can emerge not only out of an the interruption of the unexpected or shocks to the systems, but also out of the routine—a continuation of what is considered to be an expected subordination, usually through law or government sanction. To do so, I examined the responses of black Americans as a whole to the acquittal of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till’s murderers. Specifically, I relayed how a longstanding history of discrimination and injustice had left Blacks in 1955, including Mamie Till-Mobley, the mother of Emmett Till, with the expectation that the two murderers of her son on trial, Roy Bryant and J.W. Milam, would be acquitted, and I explained how the social meaning of that acquittal for Blacks emerged through a cultural trauma narrative that helped to ignite the Civil Rights Movement."
Angela Onwuachi-Willig, dean and professor of law at Boston University School of Law, argues that for certain subordinated groups, such as Blacks, and under certain circumstances, cultural trauma narratives can emerge not only out of an interruption of the unexpected or shocks to the systems, but also out of the routine—a continuation of what is considered to be an expected subordination, usually through law or government sanction. In her talk, "The trauma of injustice," she will discuss the responses of black Americans as a whole to the acquittal of fourteen-year-old Emmett Till’s murderers.
Dean Onwuachi-Willig is a renowned legal scholar and expert in critical race theory, employment discrimination, and family law, she joined the law school as dean in August 2018.
A graduate of Grinnell College (B.A.), University of Michigan Law School (J.D.), and Yale University (Ph.D.), Angela Onwuachi-Willig is Dean and Professor of Law at Boston University School of Law. Previously, she served as Chancellor’s Professor of Law at the UC Berkeley. She is author of According to Our Hearts: Rhinelander v. Rhinelander and the Law of the Multiracial Family and numerous articles in leading law journals like the Yale Law Journal, California Law Review, Virginia Law Review, Georgetown Law Journal, Northwestern University Law Review, and Vanderbilt Law Review.
She is the recipient of numerous teaching awards, a former Iowa Supreme Court finalist, a recipient of Law and Society Association’s John Hope Franklin Award, an elected member of the American Law Institute, and the first professor (along with her co-author Dean Mario Barnes of the University of Washington School of Law) to receive both the AALS’s Clyde Ferguson and Derrick Bell Awards. Most recently, she was honored as an EXTRAordinary Woman in Boston in spring 2020. Additionally, she and four black women decanal colleagues—Danielle Conway (Penn-State Dickinson Law), Danielle Holley-Walker (Howard Law), Kim Mutcherson (Rutgers Law), and Carla Pratt (Washburn Law)—were selected to be the inaugural recipients of the AALS Impact Award in recognition of the extraordinary work they performed in collating the Law Deans Antiracist Clearinghouse Project in January 2021.