(Note: These remarks were originally shared by ACEDS President Michael Quartararo with leaders of our 25 global chapters during ACEDS’ monthly chapter leadership call, and since then many have asked that the remarks be made available publicly)
I want to say a few words about the conversation we are having, certainly here in the United States, but also around the world, about race and equality and justice.
To be clear, the killing of Black Americans and any person of color by police is unacceptable to me. It reflects part of a shameful and troubling legacy of race in America. And I believe that we can do better. We must do better – that is, if we have the courage and the will.
You know, we all work in the legal industry – a place where equality undergirds much of what we do. I feel it should be a place where equality is not an issue. As we all know, that is not always the case. I believe that as part of the legal community we are obligated to do more; to do better.
It has become evident to me over the past few weeks that more conversation around race and equality are needed. That even though it may be uncomfortable for some, a new and different conversation needs to be had. Apathy and complacency feel like complicity. Silence and ignorance seem to suggest acceptance. In my experience, the only time people grow and change is when they are pushed outside their comfort zone. So, I think it is time for some uncomfortable conversation.
My hope of course is that ACEDS is an organization where everyone feels welcome, feels valued and has a voice. But, of course, how I hope others feel is largely irrelevant. And it may not reflect the reality for everyone. What is important is how those who are most affected feel.
Make no mistake. I do not have all the answers. I am not going to solve racism. I am not even entirely sure that I know what the solution looks like. But I do know that as a leader in the community I feel that I can do more. As someone who has a platform, someone who has the privilege of speaking and writing to reach thousands of people, I feel I can do better. I feel that we all can do more. And as the leader of ACEDS, I feel that there is more that we can do as an organization –if we have the courage and the will.
One way to engage on the subject of race, equality and justice is to talk more about it.
And so, I’m asking all of you today, no, I am challenging you all today, as leaders in our community, to offer me your thoughts on what ACEDS can do as an organization to better support those in our community who have been marginalized and treated unequally?
I am asking each of you to give me one good idea on how ACEDS can improve in this regard.
And let me know, too, your level of interest in being part of any initiative or larger conversation that will come out of this.
I consider myself fortunate to work for a company that believes in giving back; that believes in supporting under-served communities, people of color and the less fortunate. I am proud, in fact, that our parent company, BARBRI, has a long history of supporting individual law students, public interest groups, and nonprofit organizations that seek to advance racial equality and diversity in the legal profession.*
But, from where I sit, that is not enough. We can do more. ACEDS can do more. If we have the courage and the will.
It is not my intention to appear gloomy. In fact, I feel quite the opposite. Demonstrations across the globe have involved young people – people of every race, color, creed, orientation, and nationality. And so, this gives me hope, and I am optimistic that young people will in fact drive change. If they have the courage and the will.
My commitment to you today is to start a conversation and make every effort to keep it going. I invite you all to join in the collective thinking and in whatever we may accomplish together. The goal is to ensure that ACEDS is doing everything it can do to not just promote or encourage equality, but also to proactively demand equality for its members and the broader community. I want to lead by example here and show the world that in our little corner of the legal community we have the courage and the will to help effectuate change.
I look forward to hearing from you.
I hope you all are safe and well.
And please be kind to one another.
*One example is BARBRI’s support of the Pipeline to Practice Foundation. Learn more at https://pipelinetopractice.org/