Rhonda V. Magee (M.A. (Sociology), J.D.) is Professor of Law at the University of San Francisco School of Law. She is a teacher of mindfulness, focusing on its applications for professional development and for enhancing effective communities. A trained facilitator of mindful and compassionate communication, and trained in teaching Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction through the Oasis Institute at the University of Massachusetts’ Center for Mindfulness, Professor Magee is Fellow of the Mind and Life Institute.
Rhonda was born into what she has referred to as the Integration Generation, describing the period of revolutionary change in her home states of North Carolina and Virginia, as well as much of the American South. “I saw in my own life that changes in law and social policy could create real opportunities for people,” she says. “And I also saw the importance of doing my own healing, so that I could make the most of the opportunities that might come my way.” Rhonda holds her belief in the power of connection to be the legacy of her upbringing, affirmed by the road she has traveled.
Rhonda’s work is inspired by commitments to compassionate problem-solving and presence-based leadership in a diverse and stratified world, and to humanizing approaches to professional development. Rhonda uses mindfulness and compassion practices as keys to unlock transformative experiences and growth in spheres personal, interpersonal, and institutional.
As a member of the Board of Advisors for the Center for Mindfulness, the Steering Committee for the Mind and Life Institute, and the Advisory Board of the Mindfulness in Law Society, Professor Magee is a thought leader in the emerging fields exploring mindfulness- and compassion-based approaches to social justice.
Rhonda has authored numerous articles on mindfulness in professional education, including Educating Lawyers to Meditate? 79 UMKC L. Rev. 535 (2011), and The Way of ColorInsight: Understanding Race and Law Effectively Using Mindfulness-Based ColorInsight Practices, 8 Georgetown Law J. of Mod. Crit. Race Perspectives 251 (2016). Her forthcoming book (Penguin/Tarcher Perigee) is on Mindfulness and Racial Justice.
Race / Social Justice
Despite decades of progress, and the good efforts of millions of people in a variety of fields and contexts, we need only pick up the daily paper to see that race, and the ongoing questions and imbalances that it underpins, are still very prevalent in our society. As a thought- and practice- leader in her field with a highly appropriate intersectional background, Professor Magee is uniquely positioned to crusade for social justice, through the promotion of what Jerry Kang has described as “debiasing programs” and the emerging approaches especially in law and criminal justice of mindfulness and “colorinsight.”
Teaching / Pedagogy and Mindfulness
An unfortunate truth of the world we live in is that from a very young age, people are instilled with a huge sum of preconceptions and associations and expectations and stereotypes about the world around them. These unconscious thoughts sway our judgment and our behaviors in our daily lives. By teaching mindfulness strategies, or even by bringing the discourse exploring intersectionality and which challenges those stereotypes into pedagogy, it is possible to overcome and recontextualize those formative experiences. When students are given the opportunity to ask meaningful questions about gender, race, and class they will re-apply those insights and ultimately reshape the discourses in legal and other fields.
Mindfulness and Law
Mindfulness and an understanding of intersectionality are especially in matters of the law for two major reasons. First, while this isn’t meant to diminish the microagressions and implicit racial biases common in our society, the authority of the law can have the most direct and most significant impact on human lives, and there is no field more in need of mindfulness. Second, the law has an uncomfortable history, not yet left entirely behind, of racial discrimination. Mindfulness and law, the philosophy of justice, should always be held together.
It’s an old refrain, that we lead by example, but as educators, thought- and practice-leaders, and even as participants in the discourses of our fields, it’s imperative that, by our conduct and our works and words, we inspire developments and insights, and remake our institutional, professional, social, and personal worlds. Recognizing the impacts we have, even indeliberately, on the world around us allows us to modulate those impacts to drive social progress. Ethical leadership is about allowing mindfulness to inform our conduct in all areas of life.