How Is That Legal?: Breaking Down Systemic Racism One Law at a Time

How Is That Legal?: Breaking Down Systemic Racism One Law at a Time

Kee Tobar and expert guests break down examples of systemic racism in the law and policy. By the end of each episode, you’ll understand the forces behind everyday injustices that make us ask, “How in the world is that legal?” How Is That Legal is a podcast from Community Legal Services of Philadelphia and Rowhome Productions.


March 29, 2023 32 mins

Erika K. Wilson is fighting back against racialized violence in civil courts! In Part Two of our conversation, she shares how she’s putting critical race theory into practice at UNC’s Critical Race Lawyering Clinic, why representing Black and Brown people is not the same as working through a race equity lens, and what happens when her clients push back against anti-blackness. Altogether, Professor Wilson demonstrates that the law c...

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Professor Erika K. Wilson lays out the legal foundations of white supremacy, breaking down how the law has distributed power and resources in favor of white people over everyone else. Plus, she brings the receipts to prove it! If you’ve ever wondered how systemic racism has persisted after the courts struck down Black Codes and Jim Crow laws, this is a conversation you don’t want to miss.

This episode is part I of the conversation w...

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March 15, 2023 35 mins

Welcome to Pennsylvania’s ChildLine Registry… where parents can be labeled as child abusers for life with no right to a hearing. 

In 2004, Angela West and six coworkers were placed on the ChildLine Registry after a child at their job developed unexplained bruising. Ms. West fought to clear her name for 18 years before finally winning her appeal, but she could not get living wage jobs in her field or volunteer at her grandchildren’s ...

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March 8, 2023 42 mins

Nearly 5 million people living in Appalachia are Black and Brown,  but Appalachians have been reduced to stereotypes of white coal miners in the mainstream media. Attorney Loree Stark breaks down what’s really going on in Appalachia, including how systemic inequity, exploitation of the labor force, disability, housing instability, and predatory lending all intersect in this unique part of the country. Loree then shares how mutual a...

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Educators can legally hit students at school in 19 states, but school-based violence is forcing young people with marginalized identities out of school everywhere.

Ashley Sawyer joins us to discuss the legacy of racial discrimination in education policy and systems of school-based violence. She lays out how the school-to-prison pipeline, pushout, sexual harassment, and corporal punishment force young people with marginali...

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February 22, 2023 38 mins

Black families pay higher property taxes than white families each year, and these unfairly high bills are helping to force Black people out of cities. 

Montgomery Wilson breaks down in great detail how Black homeowners end up paying more than their white counterparts in property taxes and how tax assessments are systematically inaccurate in Black and low income communities. He also shares what cities can do to solve this massive inj...

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February 15, 2023 38 mins

One in four adults in the United States has a disability. Yet, disability is often an afterthought for policymakers. 

Lauren DeBruicker examines how disability and race intersect within the civil legal system and the impact of systemic racism on Black and Brown people with disabilities. Lauren also recounts the rich history of activism in the disability justice movement and what can be done to expand legal protections for disabled p...

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February 8, 2023 51 mins

Sofia Ali-Khan breaks down the forced migration of Black and Brown people in every corner of this country. Her new book, A Good Country: My Life in Twelve Towns and the Devastating Battle for a White America, recounts government efforts to preserve a white center in each of the places she’s lived, worked, and worshiped. Sofia also discusses her time as a legal aid attorney at Community Legal Services and why she believes that learn...

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February 1, 2023 47 mins

Pennsylvania State Senator Nikil Saval breaks down why racism is the bedrock of America’s housing system and how anti-Black attitudes led the federal government to neglect affordable housing for decades. Senator Saval illustrates how movements can build power through coalition-building and “making an ask,” and he explains how initiatives like a Homes Guarantee, Whole-Home Repairs, and eviction record sealing would help address raci...

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January 25, 2023 4 mins

How Is That Legal is back and better than ever in Season 2! Kee Tobar, Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer of Community Legal Services of Philadelphia, invites experts from a wide range of backgrounds to break down examples of systemic racism in the law and policy. By the end of each episode, you’ll understand the forces behind everyday injustices that make us ask, “How in the world is that legal?” Airing weekly on Wednesdays wherev...

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August 10, 2022 29 mins

In this special episode of How Is That Legal, Kee invites her friend and CLS colleague Tracie Johnson to reflect on lessons learned this season and what else needs to be explored next season. Kee and Tracie both share shocking stories that made them ask, “How in the world is that legal?” and talk about the importance of centering people who are impacted by inequity when creating solutions. See you next season!


Tracie Johnson ...

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August 3, 2022 49 mins

None of us can afford climate change, but the costs are even higher for Black and Brown people and communities, especially for those who can’t afford heating or cooling.

As the planet gets hotter, we must address climate change while also making sure that people can afford to keep their homes comfortable.  It’s not too late, but if we don’t act soon, we will pay one way or another. Bishop Dwayne Royster and Kintéshia Scot...

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July 27, 2022 49 mins

Welcome to America…. where low-income families risk losing their homes if a loved one lives in a nursing home or needs help with personal care at home. 

That’s right. If a Medicaid recipient receives long-term care, the state can recover costs from their estate after they pass away. Stephanie Altman from the Shriver Center on Poverty Law joins us to discuss Medicaid estate recovery. She breaks down who actually receives Medicaid, wh...

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July 20, 2022 49 mins

For many Black and Brown homeowners, their dream of homeownership disintegrates into a uniquely American nightmare designed to extract wealth and lock them out of economic mobility. 

Attorney Rachel Gallegos and Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson join us to discuss racial disparities in homeownership, the bureaucratic saga that unfolds when homeowners pass away, and changes needed to preserve Black and Brown intergenerationa...

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July 13, 2022 48 mins

America’s housing system is designed to keep Black women locked out. But eviction records don’t tell the whole story. 

Rasheedah Phillips joins us to discuss the national housing crisis and how systemic racism is embedded in housing policy. She breaks down racial discrimination in rental housing, how eviction records can haunt tenants for life, even if they haven’t actually been evicted, and the opaque nature of tenant screening rep...

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July 6, 2022 46 mins

Alan Dettlaff began his career in social work as a child welfare investigator. So how did he reach the conclusion that social workers must refuse to cooperate with the system altogether? Well, he tried to reduce racial disproportionality within child welfare and foster care for years. 

In this episode, Dr. Dettlaff shares his research on the unique harms that the family policing system imposes on Black, Latine, immigrant, ...

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June 29, 2022 50 mins

More than half of Black children experience a child welfare investigation by their eighteenth birthday– almost twice the prevalence for white children. 

April Lee knows the family surveillance system well. More than eight  years ago, April’s three children were removed from her home. Among her family, friends, and community, most people have been through the child welfare system as parents, children, or oftentimes both. Now, she’s u...

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June 22, 2022 51 mins

More than one in ten Black children in America will be forcibly separated from their parents and placed in foster care by the time they reach age eighteen. 

Professor Dorothy Roberts joins us to discuss the racialized history of parenting, family autonomy, and the child welfare system. From the role of slavery in framing the Black mother to disastrous 90s legislation rooted in racial stereotypes, Professor Roberts makes the case tha...

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June 21, 2022 5 mins

Kee Tobar and expert guests break down examples of systemic racism in the law and policy. By the end of each episode, you’ll understand the forces behind everyday injustices that make us ask, “How in the world is that legal?” In our first season, How Is That Legal will examine racial disparities in the child welfare system, housing discrimination, Medicaid estate recovery, utility shutoffs, and more. 

If you enjoy this ...

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June 13, 2022 5 mins

How many times have you encountered an injustice that shocked you so much that you wondered, “How in the world could this possibly be legal?” 

Well, that’s exactly why we at Community Legal Services of Philadelphia created our new podcast, How Is That Legal. With help from our host, CLS Chief Equity and Inclusion Officer Kee Tobar, expert guests will break down specific examples of systemic racism in the law and policy and share how...

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