Race, Evidence, and Epistemic Injustice

Document Type

Book Chapter

Publication Date



Christian Dahlman, Alex Stein, and Giovanni Tuzet




Oxford University Press




This chapter starts off with a definition of “racist evidence” that includes: (1) evidence that suggests one racial group is inferior to or superior to another racial group in any way, (2) products of structural racism, (3) racially disparate evidentiary burdens in proving one’s racialized reality, and (4) the ways that racism distorts observation, perception and—accordingly—belief, which is then utilized as a basis of proof in legal proceedings.” Based on this definition, the chapter identifies and analyzes the epistemic problems posed by racialized factfinding and relates them to the broader notion of cultural cognition. This discussion focuses on the epistemic failings of “racial character evidence” and the unequal evidentiary treatment of white—as opposed to Black and Brown—“racialized reality evidence,” especially on matters of structural racism and race relations with law enforcement. While white racialized reality evidence receives “implicit judicial notice” and is fast-tracked to the jury box, the racialized reality evidence of Black and Brown people is subject to the full rigors of evidentiary scrutiny and often times suppressed. This system results in apervasive type of epistemic injustice.

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