College of Law

#LivingWhileBlack: Blackness as Nuisance and the Racialization of Space

#LivingWhileBlack: Blackness as Nuisance and the Racialization of Space

DATE: Thursday, January 19 2023
TIME: 8:00 am - 9:00 am MST
LOCATION: College of Law and Virtual Event
COST: Free and open to the public.
1 hour CLE (pending).

The hashtag #LivingWhileBlack first appeared as a social media hashtag to mobilize attention to incidents where white people called the police on Black people for engaging in non-criminal, everyday activities.  The explosive combination of high-quality cell phone video and ubiquitous social media platforms revealed to the public several incidents where the police were called to report Black people in spaces that the callers believed they ought not be. In each of these cases, the Black men, women, and children were occupying spaces in which they had rights to be and undertaking activities they had a right to undertake.  The ability of social media to make these incidents go viral has not revealed a new phenomenon.  Rather, it has simply highlighted the modern incarnation of a much older one phenomenon: Attempts to use the basis of nuisance and trespass from property law as a way to exclude Black Americans from what the callers believe to be “white” spaces.

Professor Jefferson-Jones examines both the historical and modern incarnations of this “Blackness as Nuisance” doctrine, and how this attempt to distort property law norms arises from a sense of racial entitlement and discomfort with racial integration. Professor Jefferson-Jones will discuss her research which highlighted language that either explicitly called for exclusion of the victim based on his or her race or that employed racially coded language (“dog whistles”) to call for police force to be used to remove Black people from shared spaces.

Finally, she will discuss why policymakers need to consider the intersections of property law and criminal law, and the historical origins of these types of incidents, in order to craft effective responses.



Professor Jamila Jefferson-Jones writes about the property rights of communities and groups on the margins of society.  In line with her interest in property rights on the margins of society, she uses critical race methodologies to interrogate the ways in which members of favored racialized groups seek to exclude racial and ethnic minorities from public and private spaces, including through the use of or threat of police action to enforce both the racial segregation of space and racist notions of supremacy.  Her recent article on this subject, #LivingWhileBlack: Blackness As Nuisance, was published in the American University Law Review and featured in the New York Times.  In addition to this work, Professor Jefferson-Jones has written a number of law review articles and book chapters on the sharing economy and is a recognized expert on the housing segment of the sharing economy, particularly on discrimination in that sector.    She has also studied the property rights of those with ex-offender status to reveal the intersection of property and criminal justice theory.

Professor Jefferson-Jones is the Earl B. Shurtz Research Professor and Associate Dean for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Belonging at the University of Kansas School of Law.

Jamila Jefferson-Jones is a graduate of Harvard Law School and Harvard College.


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