Our hearts ache and we are outraged as we mourn the murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor, the latest publicized instances of persistent anti-Black violence and hatred in this country. We stand in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement.
Living in the Bay Area, on Ohlone land, we see that racism thrives here too. We remember: Miles Hall, Oscar Grant, Mario Woods, Alex Nieto, Amilcar Lopez Perez, Luis Gongora Pat, and Jessica Williams. We have read the text messages of SFPD officers. We see the daily unchallenged, gentrification-impelled dwindling of San Francisco’s African American and Latinx communities. As lawyers, we also recognize the enabling role of the law, legal processes, and legal institutions in perpetuating anti-Blackness, racism, and inequity. The unwillingness of our legal system to hold police accountable for their violence and its ineffectiveness at deterring discrimination are but two of many horrendous embarrassments.
Nevertheless, we have hope. We have hope when we see the multiracial, multi-generational mass protests, led by talented young African American organizers, amidst militarized police forces, putting their bodies on the line to insist on justice. At Hastings, we have hope when we read the statements of BLSA and ASUCH leadership and witness the support of Student Services, the solidarity of CGRS, and the recent launch of Hastings’ Center for Racial and Economic Justice by two of our clinical colleagues.
It is hope that fuels our clinics’ work. We know that lawyers, when we learn from and join forces as equal co-partners with people of color, can successfully challenge racism and achieve greater equity. Our clinics strive to work to dismantle systemic racism and structural inequities. We teach and practice how to lawyer across difference, how to do the important intrapersonal and interpersonal work to create transformative relationships in the face of injustice, and how to act as skillful advocates, counselors and mediators. Our clinics teach and practice the centering of our clients’ experience and partnering with them and their communities as the methodology of lawyering for justice and building real democracy. We work at listening to and elevating the voices and experiences of our clients.
Moving forward, our clinics will explicitly insist that Black lives matter and we commit to centering anti-racism in our work. We pledge to invest even more time to educate ourselves and our students to fight against racialized subordination. We are committed to stand in solidarity and partnership with those working to achieve justice — our Community Justice Clinics’ middle name. We hope you will join us and help keep us accountable.
Mai Linh Spencer