Evelyn Rangel-Medina has joined the UC Hastings Center for Racial and Economic Justice (CREJ) as its inaugural Visiting Assistant Professor. Her July 1 appointment marks an important expansion for CREJ, led by professors Alina Ball and Shauna Marshall.
Over the past decade and a half, Rangel-Medina has developed an expertise in building and leading national racial, gender, and economic justice organizations, having held positions at the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, the Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC United), and the Greenlining Institute. Most recently, she served as Managing Director for United for Respect, where she directed strategy to build a national multiracial, multigenerational economic justice movement for working people, many of whom have borne the brunt of the crushing economic fallout of the pandemic as they lose their jobs or face much higher risks of COVID-19 than the general public as “essential workers.”
“My interests are a delightful match for what CREJ stands for and its long-term goals, including training prospective lawyers and scholars on intersectional justice,” Rangel said. “I want to make sure that first-generation students have equity embedded in the way they experience their legal education.”
Part of that includes introducing content into the broader UC Hastings curriculum that helps students understand how laws designed by a historically white majority affect people of color and other minoritized groups. “Recognizing that, how can we shift our approach and have a more functional and effective legal system? Those are the questions I love to tackle,” she said.
“The college is really excited to bring new voices and perspectives into our classrooms,” said Academic Dean Morris Ratner. “Evelyn’s experience advocating with and for immigrant communities, people of color, and gender justice organizations gives her a basis not only to teach law but to give it a social justice framing our students are eager to learn.”
Her passion for equity runs deep. “My mom was undocumented, working as a housekeeper and nanny for decades. Experiencing the world through her eyes shaped my conviction that our legal systems can do better,” she said. “It is the responsibility of lawyers to think of ways to protect those most vulnerable among us.”
“Evelyn has devoted her career to advancing economic and social justice on behalf of marginalized communities of color,” said Marshall. “Her stellar leadership at United for Respect, using an intersectional framework in her advocacy for low-wage workers, will bring innovative and creative approaches to social justice lawyering to UC Hastings Law students. CREJ is thrilled that our inaugural Visiting Assistant Professor so perfectly embodies the mission and vision of the Center.”
As Rangel-Medina is mentored as an emerging academic by UC Hastings faculty, she will also leverage her expertise to educate faculty how they can create course materials that take current events and the complexities of race into account in the classroom. Rangel will co-teach Torts with Professor David Takacs in the Fall 2020 term and with Professor Dorit Reiss in Spring 2021 as a Sack fellow, collaborating with members of our Office for Academic Skills Instruction and Support team.
The goal, Ball said, is to break racial and economic justice issues out of their silos and incorporate them across the college’s course offerings. “We’re so excited that UC Hastings students will get to experience the brilliance of Evelyn and her ability to speak first-hand to how the law can be harnessed by mobilized, marginalized clients to advance racial and economic justice.”
Besides providing a more enriched and relevant legal education when it comes to race and class, CREJ is devoted to helping launch the academic careers of promising scholars who center critical perspectives of race, identity, and inequity in their courses and scholarship. Leading critical race theorists and mentors say Rangel fits the bill.
“Evelyn is going to become an outstanding legal academic,” said Devon Carbado, Honorable Harry Pregerson Professor of Law at UCLA School of Law and former Associate Vice Chancellor of BruinX for Equity, Diversity and Inclusion. Rangel served as his research assistant when they were both at Berkeley Law, she as a student and he as a visiting professor. “Her scholarly identity was already on display when she was a law student. Her ability to combine doctrinal analysis with theory to address pressing social problems will serve legal academia well in these challenging times.”
“Evelyn is a bold thinker who is strongly committed to racial and social justice,” said Professor Russell Robinson, Faculty Director of Berkeley Law’s Center on Race, Sexuality & Culture, one of Rangel-Medina’s mentors and her former teacher. “Her work on immigration, for example, is timely and informative.”
“This position at UC Hastings is the natural next step for the emergence of my career as a scholar,” Rangel said. “I look forward to reframing conventional doctrinal course instruction to situate jurisprudence within the historical and structural context of intersecting inequalities.”