Assistant Law Professor presents paper on credit card discrimination at prestigious national forum

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Beverly A. Creamer, (808) 389-5736
Media Consultant, William S. Richardson School of Law
Posted: Jul 15, 2016

Andrea Freeman
Andrea Freeman

UH Assistant Professor Andrea Freeman joined an outstanding group of law faculty from across the country in presenting papers at the Yale/Harvard/Stanford Junior Faculty Forum at Yale Law School at the end of June.

Freeman is the first faculty member from the William S. Richardson School of Law at UH Mānoa to be invited to participate in this prestigious forum. Senior scholars from Yale, Harvard and Stanford select the papers from approximately 200 blind submissions.

Her article, “A Rehabilitative Reparations Approach to Racism Against Credit Card Consumers,” is the first to apply a critical race theory analysis to the problem of racism by credit card companies.

“Racism against credit card applicants and consumers is a core piece of the systemic inequality that perpetuates dramatic disparities in wealth, employment, health and education,” Freeman wrote.

She notes that the use of credit cards by low- and middle-income families has evolved into an essential tool to maintain their financial stability.

“Credit card companies take advantage of this reality, imposing exploitative fees, interest rates and other conditions on consumers who have no choice but to use their products,” she writes. “Even worse, the companies do so in a racially discriminatory way, burdening Black and Latino customers with the worst credit card terms, unrelated to credit risk.”

Freeman identifies “fatal flaws in the two laws designed to address racial discrimination and inequality in credit, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Community Reinvestment Act.” She proposes amendments to the Consumer Accountability Responsibility and Disclosure (CARD) Act that would require credit card companies to make reparations, including “significant investments into the communities they harm.”

Said Richardson Law School Dean Avi Soifer, “This recent recognition simply underscores what is already clear: Andrea Freeman is a rising star in the realm of legal scholarship.”

Freeman teaches courses on Constitutional Law, Federal Courts, and Race and Law. She writes in the areas of critical race and class theory, health, economics, and food policy, with a focus on the theory she developed, "food oppression." She is also active in the community as a member of the ACLU Litigation Committee and as a volunteer for 'Aina in the Schools, teaching sustainability to elementary school students.

She is working on a book, currently titled The Fultz Quads: The Birth of the Racialized Breastfeeding Wars, which will be published by Stanford University Press. The Fultz Quadruplets, born in 1946, were the first recorded identical African-American quadruplets. Their parents, who already had six children, were a North Carolina sharecropper and his deaf and mute wife.

Freeman’s book explores how the White doctor who delivered the quadruplets named them and then sold the rights to their images to a formula company, Pet Milk Co. She argues that this deal allowed Pet Milk to market baby formula to Black women, who now have the lowest breastfeeding rates and highest infant mortality in the U.S. Freeman describes how, despite the profits that Pet Milk made by turning the sisters into celebrities, the company exploited them.

Freeman earned her JD from the University of California Berkeley School of Law and her BA with honors from the University of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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