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About Kenji Yoshino
Kenji Yoshino is the Chief Justice Earl Warren Professor of Constitutional Law at NYU School of Law. He was educated at Harvard (B.A. 1991), Oxford (M.Sc. 1993 as a Rhodes Scholar), and Yale Law School (J.D. 1996). He taught at Yale Law School from 1998 to 2008, where he served as Deputy Dean (2005-6) and became the inaugural Guido Calabresi Professor in 2006. His fields are constitutional law, anti-discrimination law, and law and literature. He has received several distinctions for his teaching, most recently the Podell Distinguished Teaching Award in 2014.
Yoshino is the author of three books—Speak Now: Marriage Equality on Trial (2015); A Thousand Times More Fair: What Shakespeare’s Plays Teach Us About Justice (2011); and Covering: The Hidden Assault on Our Civil Rights (2006). Yoshino has published in major academic journals, including The Harvard Law Review, The Stanford Law Review, and The Yale Law Journal. He has also written for more popular forums, including The Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
Yoshino makes regular appearances on radio and television programs, such as NPR, CNN, PBS and MSNBC. In 2015, he became a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine’s podcast and column “The Ethicists.”
In 2011, he was elected to the Harvard Board of Overseers for a six-year term. He also serves on the Advisory Board of the Center for Talent Innovation, the Board of the Brennan Center for Justice, the External Advisory Panel for Diversity and Inclusion for the World Bank Group, the Global Advisory Board for Out Leadership, and the Inclusion External Advisory Council for Deloitte.
He lives in New York City with his husband and two children.
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Titles By Kenji Yoshino
“[Kenji] Yoshino offers his personal search for authenticity as an encouragement for everyone to think deeply about the ways in which all of us have covered our true selves. . . . We really do feel newly inspired.”—The New York Times Book Review
Everyone covers. To cover is to downplay a disfavored trait so as to blend into the mainstream. Because all of us possess stigmatized attributes, we all encounter pressure to cover in our daily lives. Racial minorities are pressed to “act white” by changing their names, languages, or cultural practices. Women are told to “play like men” at work. Gays are asked not to engage in public displays of same-sex affection. The devout are instructed to minimize expressions of faith, and individuals with disabilities are urged to conceal the paraphernalia that permit them to function. Given its pervasiveness, we may experience this pressure to be a simple fact of social life.
Against conventional understanding, Kenji Yoshino argues that the work of American civil rights law will not be complete until it attends to the harms of coerced conformity. Though we have come to some consensus against penalizing people for differences based on race, sex, sexual orientation, religion, and disability, we still routinely deny equal treatment to people who refuse to downplay differences along these lines.
At the same time, Yoshino is responsive to the American exasperation with identity politics, which often seems like an endless parade of groups asking for state and social solicitude. He observes that the ubiquity of covering provides an opportunity to lift civil rights into a higher, more universal register. Since we all experience the covering demand, we can all make common cause around a new civil rights paradigm based on our desire for authenticity—a desire that brings us together rather than driving us apart.
Praise for Covering
“Yoshino argues convincingly in this book, part luminous, moving memoir, part cogent, level-headed treatise, that covering is going to become more and more a civil rights issue as the nation (and the nation’s courts) struggle with an increasingly multiethnic America.”—San Francisco Chronicle
“[A] remarkable debut . . . [Yoshino’s] sense of justice is pragmatic and infectious.”—Time Out New York
“Fascinating....Loaded with perceptive and provocative comments on Shakespeare’s plots, characters, and contemporary analogs.”
—Justice John Paul Stevens, Supreme Court of the United States
“Kenji Yoshino is the face and the voice of the new civil rights.”
—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Nickled and Dimed
A Thousand Times More Fair is a highly inventive and provocative exploration of ethics and the law that uses the plays of William Shakespeare as a prism through which to view the nature of justice in our contemporary lives. Celebrated law professor and author Kenji Yoshino delves into ten of the most important works of the Immortal Bard of Avon, offering prescient and thought-provoking discussions of lawyers, property rights, vengeance (legal and otherwise), and restitution that have tremendous significance to the defining events of our times—from the O.J. Simpson trial to Abu Ghraib. Anyone fascinated by important legal and social issues—as well as fans of Shakespeare-centered bestsellers like Will in the World—will find A Thousand Times More Fair an exceptionally rewarding reading experience.
Speak Now tells the story of a watershed trial that unfolded over twelve tense days in California in 2010. A trial that legalized same-sex marriage in our most populous state. A trial that interrogated the nature of marriage, the political status of gays and lesbians, the ideal circumstances for raising children, and the ability of direct democracy to protect fundamental rights. A trial that stands as the most potent argument for marriage equality this nation has ever seen.
In telling the story of Hollingsworth v. Perry, the groundbreaking federal lawsuit against Proposition 8, Kenji Yoshino has also written a paean to the vanishing civil trial--an oasis of rationality in what is often a decidedly uncivil debate. Above all, this book is a work of deep humanity, in which Yoshino brings abstract legal arguments to life by sharing his own story of finding love, marrying, and having children as a gay man.
Intellectually rigorous and profoundly compassionate, Speak Now is the definitive account of a landmark civil-rights trial.
— Winner, Stonewall Book Award