In the days since the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Americans of all backgrounds have been weighing in on this sad event and its aftermath, reverberating across our country from the streets of Fargo, North Dakota and Long Beach, California, to the corporate boardrooms of New York City and Silicon Valley. These responses seem to show that we may have found a thread of unity in the frayed fabric of our society, some measure of common ground regarding the African-American experience in the United States as we start to emerge from the threat of the coronavirus towards the promise of a still-uncertain future. That is my hope, anyway; as always, facts and time will tell.
As we take stock of where we are now, in the wake of these momentous events, it is worthwhile to remember and reflect on how we each got here. In the remarks that I prepared to give at the Santa Clara County Bar Association’s 2018 Judges Night Dinner, I spoke of how grateful I am that my parents, the children of poor Mexican immigrants who grew up and raised their own family in the shadow of the railroad switching yards of San Antonio, Texas, were able to bestow on me the character, talent and opportunity to escape those circumstances and achieve their dreams. In thinking about the present, I cannot forget how much I have received in determining how I can best return the favor today.
One of the ways that I attempt to “give back” these days is serving on the board of the Santa Clara County La Raza Lawyers Association. One of the express purposes of our organization is to provide a means for taking “concerted action in support of the cultural values, economic interests and social dignity of the Hispanic/Latino community.” Though brief, that phrase encompasses a wide variety of activities and a broad scope of concerns, as our organization attempts to further that goal—La Raza Lawyers of Santa Clara County Charitable Foundation, our nonprofit corporation on whose board I also serve, has awarded over $300,000 in scholarships to worthy law students committed to our goals.
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, the Santa Clara County La Raza Lawyers Association has put out an important statement calling for justice in the face of the continuing racism that plagues us in spite of our progress and best intentions. I commend you to read our statement and reflect on what actions we can each take to answer that call. Our statement can be read on La Raza’s website here.