Trina Jones focuses her scholarly research and writing on racial, gender, and socio-economic inequality. She is a leading legal expert on colorism, which is the differential treatment of same-race individuals on the basis of skin color. A 2019 recipient of the Law School’s Distinguished Teaching Award, Professor Jones teaches Employment Discrimination, Race and the Law, Critical Race Theory, Law and Literature: Race and Gender, and Civil Procedure.
Notable works include Genetic Race? DNA Ancestry Tests, Racial Identity, and the Law (with Roberts) (examining the effects of DNA ancestry tests on contemporary understandings of race); Shades of Brown: The Law of Skin Color, which draws upon historical and sociological materials to explain the past and continuing significance of colorism in the United States; Aggressive Encounters & White Fragility: Deconstructing the Trope of the Angry Black Woman (with Norwood), which explains how negative stereotypes render Black women vulnerable in a myriad of social and economic circumstances; A Different Class of Care: The Benefits Crisis and Low-Wage Workers, which examines the dearth of workplace benefits available to low-wage workers; A Post-Race Equal Protection? (with Barnes and Chemerinsky), which challenges the notion that the election of Barack Obama heralded the beginning of a post-racial America; and Law and Class in America: Trends Since the Cold War (NYU Press, with Carrington), which examines the effects on poor people of legal reforms in a variety of substantive areas. Professor Jones’ current projects explore colorism from a comparative perspective and consider the interplay between DNA-based ancestry tests and racial identity.
Professor Jones joined the faculty of Duke Law School after practicing as a general litigator at Wilmer, Cutler, and Pickering (now Wilmer Hale) in Washington, D.C. From 2008-2011, she served as a founding member of the faculty at the University of California, Irvine, School of Law, where she created and directed the Center on Law, Equality and Race. She has been active in University service and recently co-chaired the Duke University Academic Council’s Task Force on Diversity.
A native of Rock Hill, S.C., Professor Jones received her undergraduate degree in government from Cornell University and her J.D., with honors, from the University of Michigan Law School. While at Michigan, she served as an articles editor on the Michigan Law Review.