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You Don't Look Like a Lawyer: Black Women and Systemic Gendered Racism - Perspectives on a Multiracial America (Hardback)
  • You Don't Look Like a Lawyer: Black Women and Systemic Gendered Racism - Perspectives on a Multiracial America (Hardback)
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You Don't Look Like a Lawyer: Black Women and Systemic Gendered Racism - Perspectives on a Multiracial America (Hardback)

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£23.95
Hardback 200 Pages / Published: 18/04/2019
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You Don't Look Like a Lawyer: Black Women and Systemic Gendered Racism highlights how race and gender create barriers to recruitment, professional development, and advancement to partnership for black women in elite corporate law firms. Utilizing narratives of black female lawyers, this book offers a blend of accessible theory to benefit any reader willing to learn about the underlying challenges that lead to their high attrition rates. Drawing from narratives of black female lawyers, their experiences center around gendered racism and are embedded within institutional practices at the hands of predominantly white men. In particular, the book covers topics such as appearance, white narratives of affirmative action, differences and similarities with white women and black men, exclusion from social and professional networking opportunities and lack of mentors, sponsors and substantive training. This book highlights the often-hidden mechanisms elite law firms utilize to perpetuate and maintain a dominant white male system. Weaving the narratives with a critical race analysis and accessible writing, the reader is exposed to this exclusive elite environment, demonstrating the rawness and reality of black women's experiences in white spaces. Finally, we get to hear the voices of black female lawyers as they tell their stories and perspectives on working in a highly competitive, racialized and gendered environment, and the impact it has on their advancement and beyond.

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
ISBN: 9781538107928
Number of pages: 200
Weight: 440 g
Dimensions: 239 x 156 x 21 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Throughout this intellectually sound and completely accessible book, Dr. Melaku weaves the narratives of Black women and leaves the reader having been exposed to the exclusive elite environment experienced by Black women. Her work demonstrates the rawness and reality of Black women's experiences in white spaces. Finally, we get to hear the voices of Black female lawyers (and by proxy, Black professional women) as they tell their stories and perspectives on working in a highly competitive, racialized and gendered environment, and the impact it has on their advancement and beyond. * New York Amsterdam News *
A powerful and much-needed book, with fine insights about black legal professionals that scholars, journalists, and the professionals themselves will find enlightening. This well-written and highly readable book makes innovative use of systemic racism theory to assess their racialized experiences and creative agency in difficult workplaces dominated by elite white men-legal worlds getting too little attention in current scholarship and mass media. -- Joe Feagin, Texas A&M University
Tsedale Melaku's important analysis of the ways systemic processes affect black women lawyers' occupational mobility is timely, necessary, and so insightful. Given the status lawyers hold in US society as well as their outsize influence in many halls of power, this assessment of how and why black women are underrepresented among this elite group is an urgent wake-up call for anyone interested in understanding racial and gender inequality at work. -- Adia Harvey Wingfield, Washington University in St. Louis
Through in-depth interviews with African American women about their lived experience, this book adds to our understanding of the deep connections between race, gender, and inequality in elite law firms. At the same time that Melaku explains the relative scarcity of African American women in elite law firms, her analysis challenges us to look beneath the numbers to recognize the persistence of systemic gendered racism in this elite professional context. -- Robert L. Nelson, American Bar Foundation and Northwestern University
Capturing the poise and persistence of her subjects in a manner that quantitative studies cannot, Melaku's in-depth interviews with black women lawyers in law firms provide an essential critical examination of contemporary narratives of diversity in the profession of law. In this book Melaku explicates the challenges faced by black women professionals negotiating the white space of law firms, developing the unique concept of the invisible labor clause. The invisible labor clause is a tacit but essential contractual obligation required of black women lawyers, which results in unacknowledged and unrewarded work. This work includes tasks such as the management of physical appearance-for example, maintaining white aesthetic standards of hair care and styling-as well as the negotiation of racist and sexist networking practices. These forms of labor are not explicitly stated components of the work contract but are in fact mandatory for black women who are attempting to succeed in the elite and predominantly white male profession of law. This work exposes the intersecting mechanisms of systemic and institutionalized racism and sexism in the legal profession in a way that no other work has done to date. You Don't Look Like a Lawyer is poised to become required reading in the legal academy and intersectional sociology. -- Wendy Leo Moore, Texas A&M University
Tsedale Melaku sheds light on the prevalence of systemic gendered racism in elite corporate work environments. Through the analysis of in-depth interviews of black female lawyers, she critically examines the nuanced experiences of these women as they try to navigate a career dominated by a white male elite who uphold a system that maintains and reinforces gendered and racial inequities. Melaku's firsthand account of these women lawyers provides a never-before-seen look into the inner workings of elite workspaces, particularly with regards to the emotional, physical, and psychological labor that black women have to exert in order to minimize the daily microaggressions they face. This much-needed book illustrates the incredible journey black women professionals often face in the workplace. -- Enobong (Anna) Branch, University of Massachusetts Amherst
In this important book, Tsedale Melaku renders vivid the lives of the black women who are trying to make their way in corporate law firms, as well as the underlying structural and attitudinal constraints that continue to block their progress. It should be required reading for anyone seeking to understand how racial and gender hierarchies continue to structure opportunity in the legal profession, particularly for those who are forced to build their careers at the intersection of these two pernicious forces. -- David B. Wilkins, Harvard Law School

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