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Abstract

Part I of this Article briefly recounts the plurality decision in Moore before analyzing Justice Brennan’s concurring opinion and detailing how the concurrence affirms, rather than deconstructs, the notion of African American deviance in families. Next, Part II specifies the ways in which Justice Brennan could have truly uplifted African American families and other families of color by identifying and explicating the strengths of extended or multigenerational family forms among people of color and by showing how such family forms can be a model, or even the model (if one must be chosen), for all families. Then, Part III concludes by enumerating how Justice Brennan missed a key opportunity to explore and expose the intricacies and complications of both race and racial discrimination when he chose not to address the intraracial dynamics involved in the case. After all, the City of East Cleveland that targeted and prosecuted Inez Moore, the African American plaintiff in the case, was a majority-African-American city with an African American City Manager and African American City Commission. Such an exploration of the case’s intraracial undercurrents not only could have disrupted societal understandings of the nuclear family as the normative ideal but also would have laid bare the pressures that African Americans have faced, both in history and at that time, to conform to the nuclear family structure. Further, it would have revealed the internalization of myths about African American familial deviance by the black middle class in East Cleveland and would have shown the damaging consequences of such pressures and internalization.

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