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Black Women Prosecutors Face Institutional Barriers, Racism on the Job

Marilyn Mosby, Baltimore’s state’s attorney, sat in her parked car one July morning in 2006 fired up. She was about to attempt the Maryland bar exam for the third time. On her first try, she missed the passing score by two points. On her second try, she missed it by four. “I was devastated,” she tells Teen Vogue. “I had the mentality that nothing was going to defeat me. If I had to take this exam a hundred times, I was going to pass it.”

Taking the bar multiple times is common for Black law students — 40% fail at their first attempt, compared to whites at 8%. There’s an emphasis placed on the bar and Law School Admissions Test (LSAT) within the profession — a test that claims to test analytical reasoning — though no evidence shows these exams measure competency. A recent report in the University of Maryland Law Journal found that those standardized exams, which date back to the early 1900s, are rooted in anti-Blackness and are biased against minorities. Some questions can be biased to experiences not common in marginalized communities with distinct cultural experiences, academic backgrounds, and interpretations.

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