Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Tanya Katerí Hernández

Tanya Katerí Hernández is Professor of Law at Fordham University School of Law.

Her new book is Racial Subordination in Latin America: The Role of the State, Customary Law, and the New Civil Rights Response.

Recently I asked the author what she was reading. Her reply:
I just finished reading Toni Morrison’s Home. It is about a black Korean-War veteran who returns to the United States with psychic war wounds and difficulty navigating the complexities of the U.S. racial terrain. The other primary character is the veteran’s sister who has her own challenges attempting to live with dignity in a historical context where black women were often to reduced to work horses, sex objects, or objects of medical experimentation. I admit that this may sound like an odd choice of fiction with which to relax from the professional demands of constant academic reading. But Toni Morrison’s lyrical writing and the loving relationships that sustain the characters made the book an absolute pleasure to read. One of my favorite quotes from the book is “Listen here, you from Georgia, and you been in a desegregated army and maybe you think up North is way different from way down South. Don’t believe it and don’t count on it. Custom is just as real as law and can be just as dangerous (emphasis added).” The quote exemplifies the book’s illustration of talking about racial stratification in realistic terms while at the same time being embedded within a context where survival is directly tied to how the characters speak truth to one another to lovingly support one another. It is this same theme that I humbly try to address in my own scholarly work about the customary law of race regulation in Latin America, and I greatly admire Toni Morrison’s mastery in showing that racial discrimination is real but that its targets are more than just victims.
Read an excerpt from Tanya Katerí Hernández's Racial Subordination in Latin America, and learn more about the book at the Cambridge University Press website.

The Page 99 Test: Racial Subordination in Latin America.

--Marshal Zeringue