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The Rodrigo Chronicles

The Rodrigo Chronicles: Conversations About America and Race

Richard Delgado
Copyright Date: 1995
Published by: NYU Press
Pages: 296
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  • Book Info
    The Rodrigo Chronicles
    Book Description:

    Richard Delgado is one of the most evocative and forceful voices writing on the subject of race and law in America today. The New York Times has described him as a pioneer of critical race theory, the bold and provocative movement that, according to the Times "will be influencing the practice of law for years to come. " In The Rodrigo Chronicles, Delgado, adopting his trademark storytelling approach, casts aside the dense, dry language so commonly associated with legal writing and offers up a series of incisive and compelling conversations about race in America. Rodrigo, a brash and brilliant African-American law graduate has been living in Italy and has just arrived in the office of a professor when we meet him. Through the course of the book, the professor and he discuss the American racial scene, touching on such issues as the role of minorities in an age of global markets and competition, the black left, the rise of the black right, black crime, feminism, law reform, and the economics of racial discrimination. Expanding on one of the central themes of the critical race movement, namely that the law has an overwhelmingly white voice, Delgado here presents a radical and stunning thesis: it is not black, but white, crime that poses the most significant problem in modern American life.

    eISBN: 978-0-8147-2102-5
    Subjects: Law

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xvi)
    Robert A. Williams Jr.

    In the Native American tradition, to assume the role of Storyteller is to take on a very weighty vocation. The shared life of a people as a community is defined by an intricate web of connections: kinship and blood, marriage and friendship, alliance and solidarity. In the Indian way, the Storyteller is the one who bears the heavy responsibility for maintaining all of these connections. Sacred stories and profane ones; stories of the clan, the camps, the hunts, the loves, the feuds, the names given and the nameless ones banished from the tribe for some unspeakable crime; trickster stories and...

  5. Introduction
    (pp. xvii-xx)

    Who is Rodrigo? Where did he come from? And what is a law professor doing writing fiction, anyway?

    To a large extent, the reader curious about these matters will find answers in the dialogs themselves. The first and second Chronicles, for example, tell about the personal history of my exuberant young alter ego, Rodrigo—who his father and mother are, where he was educated, how he came to spend his teen and college years in Italy, and what he wants to do in life. In the third Chronicle, the reader learns about “Giannina,” his companion and soulmate; in the fourth,...

    (pp. 1-18)

    “Excuse me, Professor, I’m Rodrigo Crenshaw. I believe we have an appointment.”

    Startled, I put down the book I was reading¹ and glanced quickly first at my visitor, then at my desk calendar. The tall, rangy man standing in my doorway was of indeterminate age—somewhere between twenty and forty—and, for that matter, ethnicity. His tightly curled hair and olive complexion suggested that he might be African-American. But he could also be Latino, perhaps Mexican, Puerto Rican, or any one of the many Central American nationalities that have been applying in larger numbers to my law school in recent...

  7. 2 RODRIGO’S SECOND CHRONICLE: The Economics and Politics of Race
    (pp. 19-34)

    “Rodrigo. My God, you’re back!” (Normally, I do not use profanity or take the name of the Lord in vain. But the familiar lanky figure standing in my office doorway had given me quite a start.)

    My visitor broke into a broad grin. “I needed a while to get my affairs in order, take care of that immigration problem, and pack. I was admitted to the LL.M. program of that school uptown. So we’ll be neighbors—living in the same city, at any rate.”

    “I’m delighted,” I stammered, putting down the book I had been reading¹ and reaching out to...

  8. 3 RODRIGO’S THIRD CHRONICLE: Care, Competition, and the Redemptive Tragedy of Race
    (pp. 35-57)

    “Rodrigo, I was just thinking about you.” This was not the usual hyperbole busy professors use to flatter their favorite students. Since returning from my talk at the Economics of Race conference, I had been meaning to call Rodrigo to thank him for helping me prepare for it. “How has the term been treating you?”

    “Not bad. How was your conference?”

    “Good. They’re thinking of making a book out of the proceedings. If so, I’ll get a chapter out of it. My talk went over well, thanks in part to our conversation.”

    “You give me too much credit,” Rodrigo replied....

  9. 4 RODRIGO’S FOURTH CHRONICLE: Neutrality and Stasis in Antidiscrimination Law
    (pp. 58-82)

    I was in my office late one afternoon, puzzling over how to incorporate certain books addressing the role of courts in protecting minority rights into the next edition of my casebook.¹ I was getting nowhere when a familiar lanky figure appeared as though by magic in my doorway.

    “Rodrigo!” I exclaimed. “I’m glad to see you. Please come in.” I peered at him closely. The usually ebullient Rodrigo stood in my doorway, looking down. “Is something wrong?”

    “Well, as a matter of fact, yes. Do you have a minute? I tried phoning first, but you were out.”

    “Of course,” I...

  10. 5 RODRIGO’S FIFTH CHRONICLE: Civitas, Civil Wrongs, and the Politics of Denial
    (pp. 83-105)

    I was staring glumly out my office window, awaiting the arrival of my secretary with a large stack of bluebooks, when I heard a polite cough at my door. I looked up and saw Rodrigo’s familiar face.


    “Rodrigo!” I exclaimed. “It’s been a while. Come in. I’ve been thinking of you lately, and here you are. To what do I owe the pleasure of this visit?”

    “Are you free, Professor? I don’t want to interrupt if you’re busy.”

    “Not at all. They’re administering my last exam even as we speak. Any minute now, they’ll deliver 107 bluebooks. I’m in...

  11. 6 RODRIGO’S SIXTH CHRONICLE: Intersections, Essences, and the Dilemma of Social Reform
    (pp. 106-134)

    I was returning to my office from the faculty library one flight below, when I spied a familiar figure hovering outside my door.

    “Rodrigo!” I said. “It’s good to see you. Please come in. You look a little agitated. Is everything OK?” Rodrigo had been pacing my office while I was putting my books down and activating my voice mail. I hoped it was intellectual excitement and his usual high-pitched energy that caused his restless demeanor.

    “Professor, I’m afraid I’m in some trouble. Do you have a few minutes? There’s something I need to talk over with someone older and...

  12. 7 RODRIGO’S SEVENTH CHRONICLE: Race, Democracy, and the State
    (pp. 135-163)

    The familiar voice in my receiver gave me quite a start: “Professor, it’s me, Rodrigo Crenshaw. I’m at the corner grocery store just down the block from your building.”

    I had been getting a number of calls from former students wanting to know if I would serve as a reference for the bar examiners or an employer.

    “Sorry it took me a minute to recognize your voice,” I said. “Come on up if you have time. It’s been awhile.”

    In a few minutes, the tall, lanky Rodrigo was standing in my doorway. “How has your summer been going, Professor?” Rodrigo...

  13. 8 RODRIGO’S EIGHTH CHRONICLE: Black Crime, White Fears—On the Social Construction of Threat
    (pp. 164-189)

    I was staring disconsolately at the flashing light on the vending machine in the student lounge, where I had gone in search of a much-needed late afternoon pick-me-up, when I heard a familiar voice from behind me:

    “Professor, do you need some help?”

    “Rodrigo!” I said. “It’s good to see you.” To tell the truth, I felt slightly uncomfortable at being surprised while trying to satisfy my physical needs on someone else’s turf, but glad to see a person who might help me out of my predicament.

    “What’s the problem, Professor? Out of change?”

    I stumblingly tried to explain the...

  14. 9 RODRIGO’S FINAL CHRONICLE: Cultural Power, Law Reviews, and the Attack on Narrative Jurisprudence
    (pp. 190-212)

    I was sipping a cup of nondescript institutional tea in hopes of soothing my jangled nerves in the low-budget take-out restaurant in the basement of the huge, 1200-room hotel where the AALS was holding its annual meeting.¹ It was only the third day of the conference, and I felt wearier than usual. I wondered whether this was because of my advancing age, or because I was simply suffering from overload. Too many colleagues, too many hyperkinetic five-minute conversations with persons I hadn’t seen in years, too many panels, too many speeches.

    I had escaped to the dimly lit dive in...

  15. Notes
    (pp. 213-264)
  16. Appendixes
    (pp. 265-276)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 277-277)