Jendayi D. Saada, assistant dean of the Center for Academic and Bar Readiness at the University of La Verne College of Law, was a featured presenter at the 50th annual Western Regional Black Law Student Association Convention on the topic of racial stereotypes.
Saada’s Jan. 6 presentation, titled “Bar Preparation: Escaping the Brown Paper Bag,” examined the impact on women and African Americans when placed in situations for which they are routinely negatively stereotyped, such as math and standardized exams.
The title of the presentation derives from the “Brown Paper Bag” test, which was a form of black on black discrimination based on skin color during the 19th century post-slavery period. Black people who were the same shade or lighter than a brown paper bag were extended social and economic privileges by social organizations and Historically Black Colleges and Universities that were off-limits to darker-skinned people.
This practice of providing privilege based on the color of a person’s skin implied that lighter-skinned black people were in some way better or smarter than darker-skinned people.
Saada’s presentation explained how these types of stereotypes negatively impact academic and exam performance. She also offered solutions for how students can mitigate stereotyping to perform to their potential.
The National Black Law Student Association articulates and promotes the needs and goals of black law students to effectuate change in the legal community. The organizations’ Western Region conference was held this year at University of San Francisco. It featured regional oral advocacy competitions, professional networking, panels for law students, and scholarship awards.
Saada has led the University of La Verne College of Law’s Center for Academic and Bar Readiness since 2012. She and her team have developed a comprehensive academic and bar support program that spans from orientation through bar passage.