How can the legal sector have a more meaningful conversation about race?

December 17, 2020 • 2 minute read

Jamie Diaferia and Steven Andersen author an article for ABA Journal on the importance of the legal sector starting meaningful discussions on racial justice. 

The murder of George Floyd was a turning point. Although he’s one person in a lamentably long list of Black people who have been killed before and since, often at the hands of the police, something about this moment snapped the country out of the complacency formed by familiarity. Like mass shootings and other atrocious events in our culture, the regularity of these killings often leads to desensitization.

But this was different. The recordings of Derek Chauvin with his knee driven into the throat of George Floyd for more than eight minutes, the dispassionate look on his face as he did so, the desperate pleas of bystanders begging him to stop, but held back by Chauvin’s fellow police officers, all combined to take this beyond a temporary moment of grief or outrage and turn it into a nationwide movement. People wanted to do something.

In the legal profession, George Floyd’s killing spurred soul-searching too. A pervasive sense existed that despite a long history of public service, we were in many ways unprepared to talk about this, especially on a personal level.

So, this article is not about diversity initiatives, affinity groups, or pro bono work. These are all laudable efforts, and well worth talking about. (Please see the sidebar at the end of this article for some notable examples.) But all of that is a different story. This article is about how we in the legal sector start to change the conversation about race, within the profession and beyond.

Continue reading on the ABA Journal here.