Like many others, I have struggled to find the right words to accurately convey my feelings on the inequalities that exist and have persisted in our nation. The Black Lives Matter movement is more than a civil rights concern, it is a human rights struggle for which we as a nation have come up short for far too long. I see statements from too many companies and organizations that are only philosophically based. There is no mention of anything actionable or accountable. Just platitudes spun with attention to word choice and devoid of real plans to address much needed change. So I want to say two things, one toward accountability and another that expresses why this movement matters.
First, while I am proud of what our firm has accomplished in working with a number of pipeline initiatives for diversity and in taking pro-bono clients each year who have faced hardships across a wide spectrum of challenges unjustly placed upon them, I regret that we have not shared more frequently our commitment to diversity and that we have understated what is an internal topic for us that we have long prioritized. We will not be as quiet about our principles going forward. We are formalizing all of this under a new Director of Diversity and Inclusion and are facilitating new initiatives, starting with pro-bono one-on-one LSAT consultation, to help those adversely impacted by systemic prejudice. We are in the process of making hiring decisions to enhance our ability to increase representation of underrepresented minorities in law schools and the legal profession. I will continue to share our progress as it develops.
Second, I hope others will reject the notion that Black Lives Matter is mutually exclusive to all lives mattering. Saying that Black Lives Matter is an acknowledgement that there are challenges placed upon African Americans in our nation that have unjust and adverse impact. I want to share something that I hope resonates with this message.
When the Boston Marathon was bombed, social media profiles pictures became “Boston strong!” Nobody said “All cities are strong!”
When the Las Vegas shooting happened, people changed their profile, “Stand with Vegas.” Nobody said, “Well what about the people that got shot in my city!”
Have you ever seen someone counter a “breast cancer” post with “what about colon cancer?”
But for some reason if someone says “black lives matter” it turns into all-inclusive “all lives matter.”
It’s not an either/or proclamation. When there is a crisis, we have always rallied around that particular group. It doesn’t discredit or diminish any other group; it just brings awareness and support to the group that needs attention.
As a firm, we aspire toward contributing to equality not just in our field, but in our society. Here and now.
– Mike Spivey