Khiara M. Bridges

Visiting Professor of Law

2016-2017

Griswold 450

617-496-4253

Assistant: Jill Smith / 617-496-2865

Biography

Khiara M. Bridges is a legal anthropologist and expert in race and racism(s), constitutional law, and reproductive justice. She has written many articles concerning race, class, reproductive rights, and the intersection of the three. Her scholarship has appeared or will appear in the Stanford Law Review, the Columbia Law Review, the California Law Review, the Emory Law Journal, the Boston University Law Review, and the Harvard Journal of Law and Gender, among others. She is the author of Reproducing Race: An Ethnography of Pregnancy as a Site of Racialization (University of California Press 2011) and The Poverty of Privacy Rights, which is forthcoming from Stanford University Press. She also sits on the Academic Advisory Council for Law Students for Reproductive Justice, and she is a co-editor of a reproductive justice book series that is published under the imprint of the University of California Press.

She graduated as valedictorian from Spelman College, receiving her degree in three years. She received her JD from Columbia Law School and her PhD, with distinction, from Columbia University’s Department of Anthropology. While in law school, she was a teaching assistant for the former dean, David Leebron (Torts), as well as for the late E. Allan Farnsworth (Contracts). She was a member of the Columbia Law Review and a Kent Scholar. She speaks fluent Spanish and basic Arabic, and she is a classically trained ballet dancer who continues to perform professionally in New York City.

Khiara M. Bridges, The Deserving Poor, the Undeserving Poor, and Class-Based Affirmative Action, Emory L.J., (forthcoming 2017).
Categories:
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Poverty Law
,
Race & Ethnicity
Type: Article
Abstract
This Article is a critique of class-based affirmative action. It begins by observing that many professed politically conservative individuals have championed class-based affirmative action. However, it observes that political conservatism is not typically identified as an ideology that generally approves of improving the poor’s well-being through the means that class-based affirmative action employs — that is, through redistributing wealth by taking wealth from a wealthy individual and giving it directly to a poor person. This is precisely what class-based affirmative action does: it takes a seat in an incoming class (a species of wealth) from a wealthy individual and gives it directly to a poor person. This Article attempts to reconcile this apparent contradiction. Interestingly, engaging in this project of reconciliation reveals very little about conservatism, but a lot about class-based affirmative action. This Article proposes that class-based affirmative action enjoys widespread support from people across the political spectrum because it is imagined to benefit the “deserving poor.” Unlike the “undeserving poor,” the “deserving poor” are those who cannot be blamed for their poverty; their impoverishment is not due to individual behavioral or character flaws, but rather to structural or macro forces well outside of an individual’s control. Class-based affirmative action enjoys bipartisan political popularity because it is imagined to benefit these respectable poor people — folks who are deserving of a “leg up” in the admissions competition and deserving of programs designed to assist them, even if those programs involve a direct transfer of wealth from the wealthy to the poor. However, that political conservatives and liberals alike currently imagine class-based affirmative action to benefit the deserving poor is a reason for alarm. Alarm bells should ring because, throughout history, the categories of the deserving and undeserving poor have been racialized — and, frequently, racist. To be precise, it has been difficult for people of color — black people, particularly — to access the ranks of the deserving poor. If history is a teacher, then, we might expect that it will be difficult for society to continue to imagine that the beneficiaries of class-based affirmative action are the deserving poor if these class-conscious programs disproportionately benefit racial minorities. Indeed, if history is a teacher, then class-based affirmative action will lose its popularity if poor racial minorities — who have always figured within the cultural imaginary as the embodiment of undeservingness — are (or are imagined to be) class-based affirmative action’s primary beneficiaries. The Article explores the case of AFDC/TANF and unemployed single mothers as an example of the racist nature of deservingness. It argues that, if class-based affirmative action functions to assist people of color in disproportionate numbers, it, like AFDC/TANF before it, will be reimagined to be a program that assists the undeserving poor, and its political tenability will suffer as a result.
Khiara M. Bridges, When Pregnancy Is an Injury: Rape, Law, and Culture, 65 Stan. L. Rev. 457 (2013).
Categories:
Health Care
,
Criminal Law & Procedure
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Gender & Sexuality
,
Health Law & Policy
Type: Article
Abstract
In several jurisdictions in the United States, a rapist who causes his victim to become pregnant commits an aggravated sexual assault. Having committed an aggravated crime, he will be subjected to a longer prison sentence relative to his counterpart whose victim does not become pregnant consequent to the rape. The rapist who causes a woman to become pregnant will be treated as if he broke his victim’s leg, gave her severe head trauma, or shot her with a gun. That is, the victim’s pregnancy is treated the same as a broken bone, a concussion, or a gunshot wound. This intriguing result is the product of sexual assault statutes that provide that pregnancy is a “substantial bodily injury” that can aggravate a crime. These laws, which function to construct pregnancy as an injury, are interesting for many reasons, two of which this Article explores in depth.
Khiara M. Bridges, Reproducing Race: An Ethnography of Pregnancy as a Site of Racialization (Univ. Cal. Press 2011).
Categories:
Health Care
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
,
Family Law
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
,
Reproduction
,
Genetics & Reproduction
Type: Book
Abstract
Reproducing Race, an ethnography of pregnancy and birth at a large New York City public hospital, explores the role of race in the medical setting.
Khiara M. Bridges, On the Commodification of the Black Female Body: The Critical Implications of the Alienability of Fetal Tissue, 102 Colum. L. Rev. 123 (2002).
Categories:
Health Care
,
Discrimination & Civil Rights
Sub-Categories:
Race & Ethnicity
,
Gender & Sexuality
,
Bioethics
Type: Article
Abstract
Recent scientific experimentation has revealed that fetal tissue yielded from abortions has remarkable therapeutic value. This Note posits that the demand for fetal tissue likely will expand to the point where the current supply no longer satisfies it. Therefore, in order to obtain tissue from women who would not otherwise donate their abortuses, should research organizations, pharmaceutical companies, and doctors be allowed to offer women a "financial incentive" for their fetal tissue? That is, should women be allowed to sell their fetal tissue? This Note explores the question from a Critical Race Theory perspective. It analyzes the impact that a market in fetal tissue will have on Black women, who are more likely to participate in such a market due to their precarious economic situation, their higher abortion rate, and the effects of internalized oppression. The Note concludes that because Black women will be disproportionately exploited, as well as disenfranchised from the benefits produced by a market in fetal tissue, fetal tissue should not be made market alienable.

Education History

Current Courses

Course Catalog View

Griswold 450

617-496-4253

Assistant: Jill Smith / 617-496-2865