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AALAM Stands in Solidarity with the Black Community

Read AALAM's Statement Here


Community Organizations Respond to

Anti-Asian Violence & the Targeted Murders in Atlanta

Read the APIs CAN! Statement Here


Civil Rights & Anti-Racism Resources

Anti-racism starts with each of us, and below are a few things that you can do as we work together to make a difference.

This site will be updated continuously in response to the ideas and insights of activists, organizers and concerned citizens nationwide. 

  • Donate money;
  • Volunteer your legal skills;
  • Participate in a protest if you are physically and mentally able;
  • Talk to your family, including children, about race and racism;
  • Listen to a podcast on race relations;
  • Read a book about the history of oppression in America;
  • Read an article about AAPI allyship; 
  • Read the Asian American Racial Justice Toolkit;  
  • Watch a documentary about racism and police brutality; 
  • Sign a petition;
  • Call your local official to advocate for social justice;
  • Support local owned businesses and restaurants; and
  • Vote.

Blog posts

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  • Sunday, April 04, 2021 1:52 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In response to the alarming escalation in xenophobia and bigotry resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic, the Asian Pacific Planning and Policy Council (A3PCON), Chinese for Affirmative Action (CAA), and the Asian American Studies Department of San Francisco State University launched the Stop AAPI Hate reporting center on March 19, 2020. The center tracks and responds to incidents of hate, violence, harassment, discrimination, shunning, and child bullying against Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

    Stop AAPI Hate's approach recognizes that in order to effectively address anti-Asian racism we must work to end all forms of structural racism leveled at Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color.

    Stop AAPI Hate's 5-pronged approach is to:

    • Serve as the leading aggregator of anti-Asian hate incidents
    • Offer multilingual resources for impacted community members
    • Provide technical assistance from rapid response to preventative measures
    • Support community-based safety measures and restorative justice efforts
    • Advocate for local, state, and national policies that reinforces human rights and civil rights protections

    https://stopaapihate.org/

  • Sunday, April 04, 2021 1:50 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Check out the resources provided by NAPABA. This includes the NAPABA Hate Crimes Task Force, describes federal and state Hate Crimes Laws, and resources on how to report a hate crime to law enforcement. 

    https://www.napaba.org/page/HateCrimeResources/


  • Wednesday, June 10, 2020 7:49 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Bryan Stevenson is a civil-rights lawyer, the founder of the Equal Justice Initiative and created the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, in Montgomery, Alabama. Stevenson is also the author of Just Mercy, which was recently adapted into a movie. 

    Isaac Chotiner, for The New Yorker, interviewed Stevenson on the origin of police violence and brutality and to discuss potential solutions. 

    Click here to read the article. 

  • Monday, June 08, 2020 11:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    In this 30 minute podcast by Legal Speak, A. Scott Bolden, D.C. managing partner of Reed Smith, and Ben Wilson, chairman of Beveridge & Diamond, discuss their own experiences with racism, how they practice authentic leadership and their hopes for greater understanding and inclusion in the legal profession and the nation beyond.


  • Monday, June 08, 2020 11:36 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Tiffani G. Lee is a partner at Holland & Knight LLP and chair of the firm's diversity council.  In a Law360 article linked here, she articulates five specific actions lawyers and law firms can and should take:

    5. As individuals, pause for some self-reflection.

    Ask yourself whether you contribute to the problem or the solution in your personal and professional life. Identify some concrete actions you will take to be part of the solution.

    Can you commit to contribute a set amount of pro bono hours each year toward the cause of racial justice in America? Can you commit to speak up when you see or experience things in your organization that are inconsistent with the organization's stated values of diversity, equity and inclusion? Can you commit to use your influence and position to help someone who is from a traditionally underrepresented group?

    4. As individuals and law firms, replace polite conversations about unconscious bias with courageous conversations about race and racism.

    A courageous conversation is one that is often difficult to have but necessary, and when done effectively, can have a dramatic impact on how we lead ourselves, our teams and our organizations. They require us to step out of our comfort zones to discuss a topic that might well cause an emotional response.

    Because of the emotional response, which is generally disfavored in the workplace, people tend to avoid courageous conversations, but they can be instrumental in building an inclusive workplace. To work, they require an atmosphere of trust and respect. Participants must feel free to share their views openly and truthfully. All participants must come with an openness to learn and a desire to understand others' perspectives.

    A courageous conversation can happen in both informal and formal settings.

    Informally, it can happen when a colleague makes the decision to pop into another colleague's office to discuss that behavior or comment in the recent team meeting that seemed to exclude the young associate. It can happen between two colleagues over lunch or coffee as long as they agree to honor the ground rules.

    It can also happen in more formal, organized settings, such as in small-group discussions facilitated by members of a firm's diversity and inclusion or professional development teams. Toolkits and guidebooks are generally available online and can be customized for use within your organization.

    3. As individuals and law firms, be intentional about pro bono and community service activities. 

    Designate a significant portion of time, resources and talent to the organizations that are doing the yeoman's work to address these racial justice issues, such as the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the REFORM Alliance, NAACP Legal Defense & Educational Fund, Southern Poverty Law Center, Equal Justice Initiative or other similar organizations.

    Lawyers and law firms can provide direct financial support to their important work as well as valuable pro bono hours to help with their research, litigation and advocacy initiatives.

    2. As law firms, ramp up on the empathetic leadership during these challenging times. 

    Recognize that these police killings of black people impact our colleagues and their overall health and well-being.

    Devise a plan for enhanced support and intervention. This can include the usual employee assistance resources, but ideally should include more targeted and varied interventions. 

    As with most trauma, individuals will process this and respond to it differently. Some will want more regular check-ins. Others will want more opportunities to vent and share frustrations with like-minded individuals. Others will want to channel all of that frustration into meaningful work. To the extent possible, law firms should be nimble and offer several options.

    1. As law firms, examine our systems (top to bottom) to identify systemic issues that create barriers to inclusion and develop solutions to mitigate or eliminate those hidden barriers.

    Consistently ask, "What more can we do?" We should also regularly audit our efforts to identify what is and is not working, and revamp or overhaul our strategies as appropriate.

    Rather than starting with recruiting strategies, law firms should first examine the systems that most impact retention — work allocation and distribution of meaningful opportunities, feedback and evaluation, mentorship and sponsorship, and promotion practices. If you don't first make sure the systems and processes that impact retention are debiased, equitable and fair, improvements in recruiting and hiring will not move the needle. I have often thought that we, law firms, started at the wrong point by becoming hyperfocused on recruiting and hiring and not equally hyperfocused on the systems and processes that impact retention.

    One useful marker that can be readily measured and monitored over time is the diversity demographics of each and every partnership class. If a firm's strategies are effective, you would expect those demographics to improve over time. If your audit reveals that the diversity demographics of your partnership classes are not improving over time, it may be time to revamp or overhaul some of your strategies.

    Access full article here.

  • Friday, June 05, 2020 3:35 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    As the Vice Dean of Howard Law School, Charles Hamilton Houston engineered the multi-year legal strategy that led to the unanimous 1954 Supreme Court decision, Brown v. Board of Education, repudiating the doctrine of “separate but equal” schools for black and white children.

    The Charles Hamilton Houston Institute for Race and Justice at Harvard Law School (CHHIRJ) was launched in September 2005 by Charles J. Ogletree, Jr., Jesse Climenko Professor of Law.

    Check out the their website for resources on topics such as: 

    • Economic stability; 
    • Housing; 
    • Safety and Healing; 
    • Infrastructure; 
    • Public Health; 
    • Education; 
    • Coalition Building; and 
    • Technology. 

    Each section of the website also includes ways that you can be part of the solution and provides links to projects addressing each topic. 

  • Friday, June 05, 2020 3:32 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Check out Law for Black Lives, a group of lawyers and legal workers committed to transforming the law.

    Below is Law for Black Live's description of movement lawyering. 

    Movement lawyering means taking direction from directly impacted communities and from organizers, as opposed to imposing our leadership or expertise as legal advocates. It means building the power of the people, not the power of the law. Support is needed this weekend not only as people take to the streets and hold spaces to collectively heal, but also as we work over the long haul to dismantle systems of oppression including white supremacy, cis-heteropatriarchy, and capitalism in our country.

    If you are seeking ways to get involved, here are some suggestions to do so in a way that is centered in the idea that real transformation comes from people’s struggle:

    Show up in community spaces. You might legal observe through your local National Lawyers Guild office, provide legal advice to copwatch programs or organizers seeking input, or simply participate in a grieving space. Rising tensions historically have led to increased surveillance and state oppression, meaning legal support is needed now more than ever.

    Build relationships with community organizers working towards transformative social change in your city. Movement lawyering is based on building relationships of trust with organizers. It requires patience and creativity. It requires being part of a team and following direction from organizers. Look up your local grassroots racial justice and human/civil rights organizations - Facebook is often a good tool. Show up. Go to meetings, listen, build with leaders. Ask how you can support the grassroots.

    Connect with other lawyers, legal workers, and law students to assess collective capacity and build community. It can be isolating to work towards transforming the legal system within a profession that lends itself to maintaining the status quo. In this dynamic, it is important to find like-minded people looking to support people’s movements instead. Join or create a space for movement lawyering in your city or school. You might find those folks through Law for Black Lives, the National Lawyers Guild, National Conference for Black Lawyers, the Black Law Students Association, at your local legal aid, public defenders offices or your law firm. Get together and assess the skills you bring to the table, and the relationships you might already have to community organizers working for radical change and racial justice. If you are already an experienced movement lawyer, this is your time to hold space: call a meeting, bring people together.

    Organize a reflection and grieving space at your law office or law school. This is a moment to bring people together to process, grieve, and reflect. Discuss how anti-Black state violence and the impunity that surrounds it is a core challenge to how we often think, talk and operate within the legal system. Acknowledge the emotional trauma of this moment for colleagues of color, particularly Black colleagues. How are we each part of the problem? How can we each be part of the solution? Treating ourselves and those closest to us with love and dignity is one of the most radical acts we can engage in.

    Commit yourself to using law to build power for the people. Traditional approaches to lawyering, even public interest lawyering, often reinforce the status quo, rather than build for transformative change. What steps can you take in your own practice to change this? How can you lawyer as a way to build people power? To dismantle white supremacy? Are there opportunities to legal observe and advise on protest and civil disobedience? To plug into campaigns for change that might benefit from policy support whether in criminal justice, housing, or beyond? Can you offer meeting space, money, or food for local organizers? Read this and this--and if you’re still hungry this--as a way to reflect on your practice, and what it means to be a movement lawyer.

    Stay connected and engaged with us. We are working to build trainings and ways for our network to gather and support the movement--but we need to hear from you about what you need. For most of us, movement lawyering is a different approach than what we grew up around or what we learned in law school. We think power and change comes from the grassroots not from the courts, and we encourage you to ground yourselves in your local contexts. But we also understand that lawyers working with organizers require a different ethos and sometimes different skills than traditional lawyering. We are in the process of developing trainings: let us know what kind of support you need and what kind of trainings you would like to see.


  • Friday, June 05, 2020 2:34 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Posted on May 28, 2020 by Danielle Johnson

    Original Link: https://bostonbarjournal.com/2020/05/28/walk-in-my-shoes-a-day-in-the-life-of-a-black-woman-attorney/

    If you approach the steps of the Edward Brooke Courthouse (named after the first African-American elected to the U.S. Senate since Reconstruction) around 8:45 A.M. on a Thursday morning—colloquially known as “Eviction Thursday” in Boston—there is a seemingly endless line of people, mostly in street clothes, waiting anxiously to get through the security screening. I approach, dressed in a suit and dress shoes with my hair neatly dreadlocked. I walk quickly past the lines of waiting litigants with my bar card and driver’s license in hand. I am a young African American woman and I am an attorney. In court, I am both an anomaly and a chameleon, depending on whom I encounter.

    The Court: The Tale of Two Lines

    The familiar discomfort starts outside the courthouse. To get through the door of the courthouse to the Eastern Housing Court sessions on the fifth floor, I must walk past the long lines of fellow people of color waiting to submit themselves to the security screening—that often includes an electronic pat-down—before being allowed in the building. It is my weekly routine to swallow the discomfort of the two lines; one short line for predominantly white attorneys and another longer line for the litigants, including my clients, predominantly people of color. I present my bar card and driver’s license, and after close inspection—notably which are not scrutinized for my white colleagues who flash their cards and proceed before me— I am allowed to pass the first test and enter the foyer of the marbled courthouse.

    Inside, the courthouse is buzzing, and the clamor of chatter and movements echo throughout the hallways. I make my way up to the fifth floor for the call of the lists. Exiting the elevator, the scene that awaits can overwhelm an unsuspecting person, but it is business-as-usual for Eviction Thursday. The two “Attorney of the Day” tables are set up to provide quick legal advice, one for pro se landlords and the other for pro se tenants. The area is so crammed with people that one cannot see the Attorneys of the Day. This is not surprising given that in 2019 alone, 39,600 households faced eviction in Massachusetts. Of these, 92% of the tenants were unrepresented; in contrast, more than 70% of landlords were represented.

    At the “Attorney of the Day” table for tenants, I flip through the dockets and see the usual massive number of new eviction cases – about 150 in total – and 55 motion hearings on the two lists. The day will be long. I brace myself for the ongoing series of tests that I will face, each of which will demand that I prove who I am, making Eviction Thursday an even more exhausting day.

    The Client: “You’re My Lawyer?”

    Finding my client among the sea of black and brown faces who are anxiously searching for answers from anyone who might be willing to listen is do-able if I have previously met the tenant. Today is not that day. Working in legal aid, where there is a mismatch between high demand and limited resources, I often walk through the hall shouting out names of clients I will meet for the first time in court. When my first call does not yield a response, I call again. Success! I formally introduce myself to the client and field the expected question: “You’re the attorney I spoke with?” Surprise mixed with suspicion registers on my client’s face. For my clients, it is my youth that is concerning. I am used to this look of doubt as an attorney who practices exclusively with elders; this is my second test of the day. It is the unspoken challenge to my legitimacy raised by my appearance. I deflect their anxiety with humor using stereotypical images of attorneys common to their generation: “I must look adolescent, not the Matlock or Perry Mason you were expecting?” To get past the awkwardness, I direct my client’s attention to the goal for the day and what to expect in the courtroom. But sometimes this is not sufficient assurance. I confidently explain to my client that this is “not my first rodeo,” and hope that I have gained their trust. I leave them to their thoughts and move on to find opposing counsel.

    The Bench and the Bar

    Housing courts tend to have their usual players, so locating a specific attorney is not often difficult. Again, today is not that day. Like a chameleon, I pass unnoticed through the tenants, a sea of brown and black faces crowding the halls while waiting anxiously for the courtrooms to open, and quickly scan each white individual in a suit. In the courtroom, shades of brown dominate, speckled here and there by clusters of ivory. I am not the only person of color, or the only woman, or the only person of modest economic means. Even so, there is a clear dichotomy: the majority of the tenants are minorities while the majority of attorneys are white and male. Then there is me.

    As the list is called, the attorneys jockey for seats in the jury box. In that segregated space, protected against the huddled masses packed into courtroom, the color scheme flips; today, I am the only grain of pepper in a sea of salt. I sigh, recalling the day the court officer singled me out: “Hey, you can’t sit there. You a lawyer?” Moving past colleagues to an empty seat, I speculate that they are wondering: “Does she know this section is for attorneys?” This is the daily reality of what it means to be an attorney of color in Massachusetts, navigating unwritten tests to prove that I exist, I am qualified, and that I belong.

    Once the call of the lists begins, the doors to the standing-room only courtrooms are shut. Any defendant not present in the correct courtroom for the call will be defaulted. Most tenants who answer are visibly anxious. Once referred to court mediation on the third floor, some will go over agreements with a housing specialist, but most will be diverted to sign, without the benefit of a hearing or trial, the pre-drafted form agreement for judgment offered by the landlord’s attorney. This is accomplished quickly in the hallway, often with no understanding on the part of the tenants of the document they have signed, including the waiver of their right to request a stay, seek reconsideration, or pursue an appeal. Instead, they blindly focus on the quickest option that allows them to remain in their home and escape the stress of being in court.

    My client, who was previously pro-se, had signed such an agreement for judgment with the landlord. The slightest breach of any of its conditions, including all incorporated lease terms, is deemed material and could trigger an execution for possession – and the agreement waived all stays of execution. But today, there will be no execution for possession. Today, I have prevailed in negotiating an amendment to the “Sword of Damocles” agreement, and substituted a sustainable repayment plan with sufficient time to access third party rental assistance through the Residential Assistance for Families in Transition (RAFT) program for the onerous agreement for judgment. I also connected the elderly client to the court’s Tenancy Preservation Program (TPP). I am the most pleased with my success in changing the basis for the eviction from “fault” to “no-fault,” thereby protecting my client from mandatory termination of their Section 8 Housing Choice Voucher.

    I have passed today’s last test. I achieved a successful outcome. I demonstrated my competence to my client and proved my negotiation skills to an opposing counsel with whom I had not worked with in the past.

    Legal Aid and the Massachusetts Bar

    Back at my office at Greater Boston Legal Services, my shoulders relax. Here, I am not burdened by expectations to conform to the culture and hierarchy of a Boston law firm. I am not oppressed by inadvertent stereotyping nor subject to daily microaggressions that would stunt any lawyer’s professional growth. Notwithstanding, my dominant experience navigating my chosen profession is one of alienation, exclusion, and discomfort—the price that I pay under the “invisible labor clause” for being a black woman legal aid attorney in Massachusetts, serving the poorest people in Boston who are predominantly people of color, like me.

    In my career, I have experienced racism, gender discrimination, and elitism. My experience is not unique. Throughout the Commonwealth, attorneys of color are called upon to prove their qualifications daily, to colleagues, clients, court personnel and even clerks and judges.

    The 2019 demographic survey conducted by the Supreme Judicial Court, in collaboration with the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers, revealed that out of 22,743 participating attorneys, 20,043 (86%) identified as White, and only 494 (2%) identified as Black or African American, 519 (2%) as Hispanic or Latinix, and 574 (2%) as Asian. These numbers make clear what my experience has proven—there is a gross lack of minority representation in the Massachusetts bar.

    This is not a “woe is me” story. It is a call to action for cultural diversity in law firms and legal organizations and, more importantly, for reflection on and recognition of each of our implicit biases. My day is over, but these challenges will repeat tomorrow and next week and every month thereafter with a new list of scared, mostly poor, minority tenants, assembled in lines to enter a courthouse, named for the first African American Attorney General of Massachusetts, all in effort to get “justice.” We should do better. We can do better.

    Danielle Johnson is a Staff Attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services where her practice focuses on elder housing and disability benefits. Danielle also participates in the Lawyer for the Day Program at the Metro South Housing Court, assisting tenants. Danielle is also a member of the Boston Bar Association, the Massachusetts Black Lawyers Association, and the Massachusetts Black Women Attorneys.


  • Friday, June 05, 2020 2:27 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Lawyers for Good Government's mission "is to protect and strengthen democratic institutions, resist abuse of power and corruption, and defend the rights of all those who suffer in the absence of 'good government.'" 

    If you are interested in volunteering your time with Lawyers for Good Government's efforts to stand in solidarity with Black Americans, please check out their website. 

    https://www.lawyersforgoodgovernment.org/racial-justice


  • Wednesday, June 03, 2020 6:33 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

    Letters for Black Lives is a set of crowdsourced, multilingual, and culturally-aware resources aimed at creating a space for open and honest conversations about racial justice, police violence, and anti-Blackness in our families and communities.

    Here is an article and podcast about Letters for Black Lives from NPR, explaining the history of the project. 

    The original letter was written in 2016 and translated into Arabic, Bahasa Indonesia, Bahasa Malaysia, Bengali, Portuguese, Chinese (Simplified), Chinese (Traditional), Hindi, Hmong (Green dialect), Hmong (White dialect), Farsi, French, Japanese, Khmer, Korean, Russian, Spanish, Tagalog, Tamil, Telugu, Thai, Urdu, Vietnamese. You can access the translated 2016 letter here, scroll down the page. 

    A new project is underway to update the letter. Here is how you can help. 

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The Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts (AALAM) is a non-partisan, 501(c)(6) non-profit organization.

Asian American Lawyers Association of Massachusetts
c/o The Boston Bar Association
16 Beacon Street
Boston, MA 02108-3774
E-mail: aalam.info@gmail.com

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