Kenji Yoshino: What should we be asking ourselves?
Kenji Yoshino is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at the NYU School of Law. Prior to moving to NYU, he was the inaugural Guido Calabresi Professor of Law and Deputy Dean of Intellectual Life at Yale Law School, where he taught from 1998 to 2008. He received his undergraduate degree from Harvard College, took a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University, and earned his law degree at Yale Law School. A specialist in constitutional law, antidiscrimination law, and law and literature, Yoshino has published in major academic journals such as the Columbia Law Review, the Stanford Law Review, and the Yale Law Journal. He has also written extensively in other popular venues, such as The Boston Globe, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post. He has appeared on The O'Reilly Factor, Washington Journal, and The Tavis Smiley Show.
He is the author of Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights (2006) and A Thousand Times More Fair: What Shakespeare's Plays Teach Us About Justice (2011).
Kenji Yoshino: I think really that question, which is to say, “What are the things that I need to live a good life? And are those things really things that have to do with my particular group-based affiliations, as those affiliations have been handed to me by society?” So we’re all thrown into the world, right? So I could have been thrown into the world as any number of different kinds of person. I happen to be thrown into the world as an Asian-American gay man, and that has led to many forms of privilege and some forms of non-privilege, right? But instead of saying, “What should I do as a gay person? What should I do as an Asian person?” I would much rather ask people to think of themselves as, you know, “What do I need as a human being?” And part of what I need as a human being is, you know, the ability to marry. Part of the need . . . what I need as a human being is not to have people make snap judgments about me based on my racial identification, right? But I think that those claims are much broader and are much more . . . they . . . they . . . . they . . . Even to the extent that they focus on my demographic characteristics, they focus on those demographic characteristics as things that are contingent about me. And they focus on my humanity and my status as a human being as something that isn’t contingent about me. And I think that that’s a great place to end. Recorded on: 11/11/07
What are the things I need to have a good life?
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