Law Professor Talks Section 12, Critical Race Theory | New

As defined by Article 12 of the CNMI Constitution, is “descent of the Northern Marianas” a racial construction or a political category? It’s a question that has yet to find a definitive answer, according to Professor Rose Cuison-Villazor of Rutgers Law School.

She delivered a lecture entitled “Critical Theory of Race, Pacific Islands and Cultural Rights” on June 28 in the Guma’ Hustisia Assembly Hall.

She discussed the history and origins of Critical Race Theory or CRT and how it applies to laws such as Article 12 of the CNMI, which limits land ownership to Indigenous peoples. .

She said the CRT is part of a movement that wants to see how laws, regulations and policies can advance the interests of one population at the expense of others, Cuison-Villazor told her audience of magistrates, lawyers, law students. , and other members of the community.

“Now is an opportunity to review Article 12, and how we as a community talk about what it means…and at the same time recognize that there are other people who have excluded from ownership and what impact that may have on them, and the future of CNMI,” Cuison-Villazor said.

“For non-indigenous people who can’t own property, it’s like racial discrimination – you can’t own land if you’re not NMD. On the other hand, individuals NMD will say this is supposed to protect them due to scarcity of land Primarily the commonwealth might not be able to become a commonwealth because it is part of the negotiations [with the U.S.] protect [indigenous] land rights, and from that argument you can see that it is a political argument,” she added.

“This [also] means talking, not about race, but about ethnicity, colonization, self-determination, citizenship, immigration and…a whole list of factors that are part of who we are as people of the Mariana Islands,” she said.

As for the CRT, Cuison-Villazor said, it’s about understanding the laws and policies that have promoted and perpetuated “the subordination of people of color.”

“The CRT aims to expand our analysis of how laws were originally enacted to undermine the rights of…African Americans, Native American Indians, and other people of color,” she added.

The CRT also aims to understand and resolve racism, she said.

“There might be differences in how to deal with…racism – it’s true, and it’s not easy, otherwise we might have figured it out already. But the first thing is to recognize that the law itself is not impartial, there are no neutral principles in law,” she added.

Talking about race isn’t easy, Cuison-Villasor said, “but if we’re going to get past racism, we have to talk about it.”

“The purpose of the CRT is to challenge the status quo and examine what can be done, what is the remedy, in any kind of continued subordination of people of color.”

According to Cuison-Villasor, CRT instruction has been banned in 13 states: Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.

“Some of these places have also banned talking about CRT in delivering training in state and local agencies. Consequences of violation [the ban] may include the loss of school funding, as well as some form of discipline toward state employees who violate the law,” Cuison-Villazor said.

Critics of the CRT, for their part, said it “vilifies white people [and] tries to foment resentment, envy and a victimhood complex among the oppressed class he claims to defend.

The CRT, according to its critics, is racist, divisive and “a neo-Marxist movement [that] rejects equal opportunity, merit and objectivity.”

Other conferences

Cuison-Villazor’s presentation is part of the Northern Marianas Judiciary Historical Society’s Law in the Community Lecture Series. She and associate professor Eun Hee Han from Georgetown Law School are the presenters.

Three other conferences are scheduled:

• Thursday, June 30, 6 p.m., American Memorial Park Auditorium. Han will speak on “Critical Race Stories” based on a “groundbreaking article by researcher Mari J. Matsuda that analyzes discrimination against people because of their accents.”

• Tuesday, July 5, 6 p.m., American Memorial Park Auditorium. Cuison-Villazor will present a conference entitled “Insular cases and citizenship”. Insular cases are U.S. Supreme Court decisions from over 100 years ago on the status of U.S. territories. The conference will discuss these and more recent cases involving American Samoa in which island affairs have played a major role.

• Thursday, July 7, 12 noon, Guma’ Hustisia assembly hall in Susupe. Han will give a lecture entitled “Cross-Cultural Competency and Law”. It’s about a new standard from the American Bar Association that requires law schools to educate their students about cross-cultural skills, bias and racism.

The conferences are free and will be broadcast live on the Facebook page of the CNMI judiciary. Members of the CNMI Bar Association may receive one CLE credit per lecture attended. The professors, who both grew up at the CNMI, will also teach introductory law courses as part of the pre-judicial law summer program.

The Law in the Community Lecture Series is made possible in part by a major grant from the Northern Marianas Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Sharon D. Cole