Symposium to focus local on race relations

The Journal of Law in Society, in partnership with the Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights at Wayne State University Law School, will present its 2013 symposium, "Debunking the Post-Racial Myth: The Profiling of Detroit's Most Vulnerable Populations," on Friday, March 22, at Wayne Law's Spencer M. Partrich Auditorium.

This symposium will explore issues surrounding race relations in Detroit and nearby suburbs, including racial profiling, the war on terrorism, and the challenges faced by immigrant communities. This symposium will examine the deep structural roots of the problems against the backdrop of the myth of post-racialism in the wake of Barack Obama's re-election to a second term.

"This year we aimed to choose a symposium topic that we thought was pressing and imperative for the progression in metro Detroit as well as the United States at large," says Journal of Law in Society Editor in Chief Victoria Suber. "We wanted to use the symposium to create an environment that would push people to think critically about modern day racial issues."

Congressman John Conyers will deliver the morning keynote address. Rinku Sen, president of the Applied Research Center and publisher of, will deliver the afternoon keynote. Three panels of experts will focus on different aspects of profiling within distinct communities.

"We are excited to put together a symposium that everyone has a stake in," says symposium Director Kanika Suri. "Race affects every aspect of our lives through daily interactions to societal infrastructures. It is a necessary discussion to divulge and understand the mechanisms that are currently in place in order to have any change."

The first panel will consider the challenges facing southwest Detroit and the Latin American population. Michigan Immigrant Rights' Center Attorney Susan Reed will discuss ongoing cases from southwest Detroit; Angela Reyes, executive director of the Detroit Hispanic Development Center, will examine enforcement efforts by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials; and Elena Herrada will focus on the personal anecdotes of the impacts of these enforcement mechanisms.

The second panel addresses the needs of Arab and Muslim Americans crossing borders in a post-9/11 world. The Council of American-Islamic Relations attorney Lena Masri will focus on case law involving the profiling of Muslim Americans; State Rep. Rashida Tlaib will address the current enforcement mechanisms in place at border crossings; and American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan Racial Justice Project staff attorney Mark Fancher will flesh out the idea of racial mapping post-9/11 in Michigan.

The third panel will examine police enforcement directed toward African-American males in Detroit and the surrounding suburbs. Southfield Mayor Brenda Lawrence will discuss the population shift of residents in her city's limits; Goodman & Hurwitz PC attorneys Bill Goodman and Julie Hurwitz will address legal cases the firm has been handling alleging police brutality; and Michigan State University Assistant Professor Austin Jackson will explain critical race and social theory in relation to racial justice.

The symposium is free and open to the public. Parking is available for $6 (credit or debit cards only - no cash) in structure 1 across from the Law School on West Palmer Street.

Published: Mon, Mar 11, 2013