Racial time describes how inequality shapes people’s experiences and perceptions of time. This Article reviews the multidisciplinary literature on racial time and then demonstrates how Black activists have made claims about time that challenge prevailing norms. While white majorities often view racial justice measures as both too late and too soon, too fast and too long-lasting, Black activists remind us that justice measures are never “well timed” within hegemonic understandings of time. This Article ultimately argues that U.S. law embodies dominant interests in time. By inscribing dominant experiences and expectations of time into law, the Supreme Court enforces unrealistic timelines for racial remedies and “neutral” time standards that disproportionately burden subordinated groups. Because the legal enactment of dominant time perpetuates structural inequalities, this Article urges U.S. legal actors to consider and incorporate subordinated perspectives on time. The Article concludes with a series of recommendations for centering these perspectives and rendering them intelligible and actionable in law.
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