Ethnic Studies as Antisubordination Education: A Critical Race Theory Approach to Employment Discrimination Remedies


This Note will use a critical race theory lens to argue that most trainings on equal employment opportunity (“EEO”), diversity, or implicit bias operate as a restrictive remedy to Title VII race discrimination violations, and that incorporating an ethnic studies framework into these trainings can further an expansive view of antidiscrimination law. A restrictive view of antidiscrimination law treats discrimination as an individual instead of structural or societal wrong and looks to addressing future acts of discrimination instead of redressing past and present injustices. An expansive view of antidiscrimination law sees its objective as eradicating conditions of racial subordination. Ethnic studies originated fifty years ago from the Third World Liberation Front strikes of 1968 led by coalitions of students of color protesting the lack of diversity in higher education. The discipline continues to challenge dominant Eurocentric academic paradigms, centers experiences and histories of marginalized groups in the United States, and fosters critical consciousness for social action. The incorporation of ethnic studies scholarship into the mandated workplace antidiscrimination remedies of diversity or EEO trainings presents an opportunity to further an expansive view of antidiscrimination law not only through addressing discrimination in the workplace, a traditional site of racialized economic subordination, but through the discipline itself which recognizes the historical, structural origins of discrimination.


critical race theory, discrimination, employment, remedies, equal opportunity, eeoc, Title VII



Theanne Liu (Washington University School of Law, George Warren Brown School of Social Work)



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