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passing the mic to #makelawbetter: Miguel Willis

The #makelawbetter movement joins the chorus of voices supporting #blacklivesmatter and demanding action against systemic racism and racial injustice in America. And we pass the mic to amplify black voices and their call for all of us in the legal profession to stand with them and accept that justice is not applied uniformly, to recognize the disparate treatment of Black people, and to hold our families, friends, institutions, and elected officials accountable to do the same.

Today, we share "Do black lives matter within the legal profession?" by Miguel Willis (@MiguelElCapiTon), the founder of ATJ Tech Fellows. Originally published here, we share this message with Miguel's permission.


The Access to Justice Tech Fellows Program stand in love and solidarity with our brothers and sisters on the front lines, mobilizing daily to demand racial justice.

The senseless and brutal killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and so many other black Americans, are perpetrated by the very institutions that we have entrusted to protect black lives.

George Floyd’s Life Matters........
Breonna Taylor’s Life Matters.....

Ahmaud Arbery’s Life Matters....

Black Lives Do Matter.....
Brutal, state-sanctioned murders of unarmed black Americans plague our communities. We must bring an end to the systemic racism and white supremacy that allows for these tragedies. We must bring an end to the undue excessive force by police that comes in response to peaceful protesters exercising their first amendment rights.
The ensuing protest and resistance has evolved to be about much more than the past horrific injustices, carried out by racially oppressive systems of policing. It is now evolving into ongoing disproportionate use of force and unconstitutional suppression of civil rights. 
Our nation is still reeling from the devastation of the current health pandemic and consequential economic depression; both of which, have stark disparate impacts for black communities. These issues have ultimately resulted in a cataclysmic storm of death, illness, and destructive violence against black lives. 
Tragically, this is not a new phenomenon and the plunder on black lives has dated back to before the founding of our nation. Starting with slavery, the oppression has extended through various institutional systems such as peonage, convict leasing, sharecropping, Jim Crow, redlined black ghettos and mass incarceration, to name a few.
We must also take this moment to acknowledge the legal profession’s complicity in preserving structural and institutional racism. For far too long, Institutional racism has been the norm with unchecked power, a lack of transparency, and zero accountability to the black community.
Today, black attorneys only account for 5% of all attorneys. While this begins with inequitable access for black law school candidates, persistent racial disparities are present in law school and in practice. This includes, but is not limited to:
These issues are compounded by the regular occurrences of marginalization, isolation, micro-aggressions and exclusion that blacks commonly experience in the legal profession, while serving at various firms and institutions. One cannot divorce the inherent  relationship between racism in the legal profession and broader racial injustices against black lives.
They are inextricably linked, and its ancillary impacts are more evident than ever. Some entrusted with power in the legal profession may excuse their complicity in the widespread racial injustice, by issuing statements in support of black lives and quick monetary support of racial justice causes.
While these efforts are helpful to the cause of black lives, more actions are needed. Empathy and symbolic gestures can no longer be the determining factor on which we measure our commitment to racial equity and justice. Bold and courageous leadership during this time will require concrete actions and measurable outcomes to reduce racial inequality. 
We must hold firms and organizations accountable. We must take concerted action to dismantle structural, institutional racism in the legal profession and catalyze the change necessary to address racial injustices responsively. We must ensure new proposals and interventions, seeking to address racial injustices and embed the mechanisms needed to ensure a high level of transparency and accountability to blacks in the legal profession.
Our organization always has and will remain committed to increasing racial justice in the communities our fellows and partner organizations serve, while actively expanding equitable opportunities for diverse emerging justice leaders.
In the coming days and weeks, we will be mobilizing our network to take action. We must do better. The time to act is now. We stand with Back Lives Matter and oppose all systematic racial injustice. We are in this together.

And stay tuned for future posts on how the legal profession can (and must) mobilize to take action.