Departments of African American Studies and Ethnic Studies

Race and the Law Summer Minor

The summer minor in Race and the Law is created to develop students’ understanding of the fundamental interconnections between race and the law within and beyond the U.S.  Historically, law has been instrumental in codifying racial difference and establishing racial hierarchies. Contemporary conflicts over migration, citizenship, indigenous claims to land, and environmental justice are part of a broader history that demands attention to the role of the law in creating and contesting social power.  Course offerings will address these issues to demonstrate why law is an essential component of racialization, and conversely, why it is impossible to understand U.S. legal history without addressing race.



For U.C. Berkeley Students

Race and the Law Summer Minor

The minor consists of two required core courses and three elective courses taught in two consecutive summer sessions.  Students declaring a minor must do so in writing to  The minor can be completed in one summer or more.


For non-UC Berkeley Students

Race and the Law Certificate

The certificate consists of two required core courses and three elective courses taught in two consecutive summer sessions. The certificate can be completed in one summer or more.


Required Core Courses:

ETHSTD 144AC: “Racism and the U.S. Law: Historical Treatment of Peoples of Color” (4 Units)

Intensive historical-legal survey of racism in the United States, exploring the legal antecedents of the country’s contemporary stratified society, and emphasizing the role of law as a social policy instrument. Readings and lectures will investigate the prevailing legal currency of racism in the United States through an examination of the country’s formative legal documents and the consequent effects of a myriad of judicial decisions on peoples of color.


AFRICAM 136L:   “Criminal Justice and Surveillance in America” (3 units)

What is the relationship between the criminal justice system and surveillance in America? What role does power play in this relationship?  How does this complicated relationship inform, reproduce, and engender understandings about race, class and sexuality? How has this relationship changed over time?  How has technological change impacted this relationship?  In this course, we will examine the relationship between the criminal justice system and the surveillance of vulnerable communities. We will examine social and historical trends, but our main focus will be on the evolution of this relationship since the mid-20th century, especially how this relationship developed in distressed urban neighborhoods in the post-Civil Rights era.


Elective Courses (Summer 2023):

AFRICAM 125AC: “The History of the Modern Civil Rights Movement” (3 units)

The objective of this course is to examine the modern Civil Rights Movement. As traditionally understood, this period began with the May 17, 1954, “Brown vs. Board of Education” Supreme Court decision and ended with the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. This course will expand this time frame and seek to place this movement in the context of global developments and the broad sweep of United States History. Assigned readings consist of historical and autobiographical texts. Lectures will contextualize the readings by placing the material and its significance within the overall history and culture of Americans. Visual media will augment the lectures.


AFRICAM 139L: “The Black Panther Party and American Popular Culture” (3 units)

This course will explore the rise and fall of the Oakland, California based Black Panther Party for Self Defense (BPP), and the role of the organization in rearticulating the urban narrative of resistance to power in America in the 1960s and 1970s. The course will consider the role of the law in the construction of BPP’s resistance to power. It will also explore the public presence of the BPP, and the role of media and popular culture in disseminating images and aesthetics of the BPP. Through this process, students will gain an understanding of the significance of symbols and ideas in the representations of African Americans, in the context of movements for social change in the US.


ETHSTD 180L: “Engineered Inequality: Race, Criminality, and Technology” (3 units)

In 2014, the killing of Michael Brown and Eric Garner by police in Missouri and New York, respectively, and the grand jury process that judged both homicides to be justifiable, provoked a powerful social movement affirming Black Lives Matter. The history of policing in the United States intertwines with the history of race as arguably the first organized police forces in the U.S. were set up in the puritanical Praying Towns of New England (1650) followed shortly thereafter by the slave patrols in South Carolina (1700s).

This course aims to contribute to long-standing concerns with social inequality. To this end, we will examine the production and practice of criminality and surveillance and their disproportionate effects on people of color and the communities in which they live within the United States. The first portion of the course is dedicated to understanding the historical foundations and function of our carceral regime as a constituting logic of U.S. settler colonialism and anti-black racism. With this foundation, the second portion of the course explores how big data, machine learning, predictive algorithms, and other seemingly objective technologies, are used by the carceral state to produce criminality. Finally, because human beings have agency, that is we have the ability to craft opportunities from the wherewithal of everyday life, the course closes with a discussion on the possibilities of collective ethical engagement with technoscience.


ETHSTD 180L: “Hate Speech or Free Speech? Anti-Terrorism or Profiling? Balancing Civil Rights and Civil Liberties” (3 units)

This course will critically examine the complex relationship between the balance of rights as enshrined in civil liberties and civil rights, through a prism of race, rights and citizenship. We will examine how social conditions and legal outcomes balance the interests of individuals versus group rights. For example what are the civil rights versus the civil liberties, and the group versus the individual rights in regards to first amendment speech rights versus second amendment rights? Where does the right to privacy lie in this calculus? We will closely review case precedent in immigration, national security, voting rights, language access and affirmative action and their associated social contexts and legal conflicts around racial profiling, education access and citizenship rights. We will consider how legal processes are interrelated with discourses and practices about race and rights in the U.S. In particular, we will consider the genealogy of U.S. legal doctrine (in court precedent as well as enacted law) and contemporary popular ideology or “common sense” on race, class, gender and culture.



How to Enroll



Race and the Law Minor

1 – Choose your courses and enroll for summer 2023 through CalCentral. Enrollment opens February 1, 2023.

2 – In Session A, fill out the Intent to Minor form.

◦ Email the form to, or bring the form to an advisor in the Department of African American Studies or Department of Ethnic Studies.

3 – At the start of Session D, fill out the Completion of L&S Minor form
◦ Email the form to, or bring the form to an advisor in the Department of African American Studies or Department of Ethnic Studies. The minor will be added to your Cal Central academic profile. 



Race and the Law Certificate

1 – Choose your courses and enroll for summer 2023. Enrollment opens Feb 15, 2023.

2 – At the start of Session D, fill out the Completion of Certificate form. 
◦ Email the form to, or bring the form to an advisor in the Department of African American Studies or Department of Ethnic Studies.

3 – You will receive a Certificate of Completion signed by the chairs of the Department of African American Studies and Department of Ethnic Studies.




Financial Aid


U.C. Berkeley students who enroll in the Race and the Law in Summer Sessions 2023 and complete it by the end of summer 2023 or by the end of summer 2024 are eligible for a $1,500 scholarship.

To be awarded the scholarship you must:

– Be currently enrolled as a U.C. Berkeley student.

– Complete the academic requirements for the minor by the end of Summer Sessions 2023 or Summer Sessions 2024.

– Earn a minimum 2.0 GPA or higher in all courses for the minor and complete all courses before graduation.

– Print out or complete the online Completion of L&S Minor form and submit it to the Department of African American Studies or Department of Ethnic Studies within two weeks of the start of your final course.

– This will trigger the process of awarding your scholarship. You will receive an acknowledgment that you have successfully completed the Minor. Your $2,000 scholarship will be posted as “Scholarship” to your student account by December of that year. Please note that certificate candidates and students not enrolled at U.C. Berkeley are not eligible for the scholarship.


Important Dates

February 01:   UC Berkeley Students and All UC Students
February 15:  Visitors and International Students

May 22:  Session A
July 03:  Session D

August 11