The Courtroom as White Space: Racial Performance as Noncredibility


Central to critical race theory (CRT) is the notion that law is constitutive (and not merely reflective) of race. This Comment operates within the CRT tradition to point to the development of the courtroom as white space and the construction of legal narrative and legal truth as distinctly white. It traces the exclusion of people of color from the courtroom to create a courtroom comprised of only white actors. As such, undergirding its newly created legal rules and expectations were white social and behavioral norms. With the invisible baseline of whiteness guiding courtroom behavior, nonwhite performance was marked as other and inappropriate. Thus, the formal exclusion of people of color persisted as a functional exclusion. Using Rachel Jeantel’s testimony in the George Zimmerman trial as a case study, this Comment highlights credibility determinations as a tool of exclusion, and argues that the courtroom has always already discredited narratives and testimony of color.

About the Author

UCLA School of Law, J.D. 2015, Critical Race Studies specialization; Brown University, B.A. 2009.

By uclalaw