Nearly 20 years ago CLLR published Professor Margaret Montoya's famous piece titled “Máscaras, Trenzas, y Greñas: Un/Masking the Self While Un/Braiding Latina Stories in Legal Discourse.” In it Professor Montoya shed light on how she was negotiating white spaces as a woman of color. These ideas have been pivotal for understanding how marginalized identities more generally are carefully managed in predominately white male arenas, like the legal profession and the academy.
[A]s my mother braided my hair, I changed; I became my public self.
Montoya's piece was markedly profound in its engagement of social interaction, assimilation, and oppression through the metaphors of masking and braiding.
My truths require that I say unconventional things in unconventional ways.
As a Latina girl/woman, her personal experiences provided a unique perspective on how marginalized and isolated groups adopt masks and tell braided stories in hopes of traversing social settings and resisting the judgment and criticism of their identity: woman, poor, brown.
I welcomed the braids and uniform as a disguise which concealed my minimal wardrobe and the relative poverty in which my family lived.
The article has achieved iconic status in several genres of legal literature, including feminist studies, Latino/a Critical scholarship, and critical race theory, and has been cited innumerable times. Lawyers and law students have remarked on how important--even life-saving--the article was in their careers.
But where are we now? Has anything changed for people of color, or women, or women of color since the writing of this piece? What has this piece taught us about the role of these various identities in the legal profession and legal academia? What effect does 'masking' have on identity formation and
Our symposium seeks to reflect on the impact that this piece had for students as they traversed through their legal education, professionals who face similar challenges with respect to negotiating their marginalized identities, and professors who must face these challenges from different fronts (both institutionally and in their classrooms). We realize however that these issues are not germane to the legal field, and thus have sought to broaden our understanding of these issues by opening up this symposium to scholars in other fields.
UCLA School of Law
Chicana/o-Latina/o Law Review