Law in Contemporary Society

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DiscountedLaborOfBIPOCStudentsAndFaculty 1 - 08 Mar 2022 - Main.AimeePacheco
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I just wanted to start off by saying that I appreciated the comments that were made at the end of class regarding the privilege that comes with making comments like “just go talk to administration.” I also wanted to express my frustration with the burden of finding solutions to what needs to change in law school.

I spent my four years in undergrad fighting administration for substantial change. Like many of my colleagues, I was involved in a number of organizations, all looking to address different issues impacting different parts of our identity. In my experience, it was the same first-generation, low-income, queer, Black, Indigenous, and students of color who were always at the forefront of these conversations and putting themselves on the line. In those four years of student activism, my classmates and I tried so many different tactics for a number of issues. We eventually learned that it would be most effective to disrupt one thing administration can never ignore: money. We knew that if we followed the money, we’d really interrupt the school to the point of them having to pay attention. This meant protesting the yearly homecoming bonfire, a yearly tradition where alumni and big donors always made their contributions. It also meant getting creative with class walk-outs, library sit-ins, administration office hour sit-ins, and even pestering our college president outside of his house and at the gym to make him listen.

Did these tactics work? Yes, in some cases, they did. But at what cost? I think many of the students in our classroom are aware of their power to make things happen with words. Many of us had to learn how to do so at a very early age. In many ways, we’ve been advocating for ourselves and our families for our entire life. But we also know the cost of these actions. For me, it means burn out. In undergrad, it meant struggling with mental health issues and having constant anxiety, stress, and an added work load outside of full-time classes and a 20+ hour work week. It meant falling behind in classes and struggling to keep good grades because of everything else happening in the background. And the most frustrating part was seeing this burden falling on the same first-generation, low-income, queer, Black, Indigenous, and students of color who were already having to deal with the struggles that come with attending elitist, predominately white institutions that were not made for us. This is part of what we mean when we say we’re “just trying to survive law school.” We spend so much time just validating our existence and our right to be in these spaces. I really do think students in class know that they are more than capable of this type of action, but as I explained above, and as students in class pointed out, there’s a lot more to it than just going to speak to administration.

I’m attaching the article that inspired the name and creation of this web topic: I especially identified with "III. The Discounted Labor of Solution Generation" and have included a few quotes that stood out to me. There is so much additional emotional labor put on BIPOC students, and this needs to be acknowledged.

"Not only are BIPOC students and faculty relied upon to raise DEIA issues and provide mentorship regarding these issues, but they are also asked to propose solutions to the problems.”

"Moreover, BIPOC students and faculty responsible for identifying problems may feel additional pressures to assist in solving the problem, lest they be as accused of complaining, being disloyal to the law school, or raising the problem but failing to be a “part of the solution. Here again, BIPOC students and faculty are expected to take time away from their studies and tenure/promotion activities to engage in discounted labor that only gives marginal career gains."

This last quote especially stands out to me in relation to this conversation: “I remember being asked, ‘What would success look like to you? What would make our law school successful in its diversity efforts?’ I couldn’t help but laugh. I have never existed in a world with equity, and to draw on my human experience to give these people a solution they can stomach is quite the ask. Law schools were not meant for Black people and were certainly not designed with Black students in mind.” —A Black law student

-- AimeePacheco - 08 Mar 2022


Revision 1r1 - 08 Mar 2022 - 21:10:29 - AimeePacheco
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