Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

U.C. Davis Law Review


racism, segregation, Jim Crow, gender discrimination


This Essay works through essentialist language to reveal the multidimensional nature of racial segregation as a system of subordination. Specifically, it examines how racial segregation in public schools and laws prohibiting interracial marriage mutually reinforce racial and gender inequality. Part I discusses Brown and the traditional analysis of that decision as a case dealing with race, racial stigma, and equal educational opportunity. Part II reviews laws prohibiting interracial marriage, the reasoning and purpose behind these laws, and the Loving decision that rendered such laws unconstitutional. Part III then examines racial segregation in public schools as more than just a system regulating race in education. This Part contends that racial segregation should be viewed more broadly as a tool of antimiscegenation. Just like laws prohibiting interracial marriage, a central purpose of racial segregation was to prevent the development of intimate social relationships between blacks and whites. Segregationists believed this was necessary to prevent the production of racially mixed children and thus preserve white supremacy and white racial purity.

Part IV demonstrates that once racial segregation is viewed as an antimiscegenation tool, it becomes clear that racial segregation in public schools is as much about regulating gender relations as it is about regulating race relations. Our essentialist language, however, prevents us from perceiving the intertwined gender-racial components of Jim Crow segregation. This final Part first briefly discusses theories of essentialism and anti-essentialism, and then it explicates an antiessentialist theory of language. Next, it shows how the way we talk about race and racial segregation obscures the gendered nature of racial segregation. Finally, it employs an anti-essentialist linguistic analysis to illustrate how we can glean new insights into racial subordination by renaming "racial segregation" as "gender segregation on the basis of race" or "racial-gender segregation."