Right Within: How to Heal from Racial Trauma in the Workplace by Minda Hart

Right Within

When I became an attorney, I had a sense that I would experience workplace issues because of my race, gender, religion, marital status, ethnicity. I tried to compensate for that by learning as much as I could I the topic to get ahead of the problem. I studied the work on the ABA Commission on Women since its inception. I organized my own diversity programs, but in my years with the ABA, I have observed how the ABA seeks to replicate the hierarchies that it professes to dismantle. I attended a vote for the ABA Section on Civil Rights and Social Justice Delegate last week and I was appalled by the reasons people said to vote for them. I wrote a letter to the Membership, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee and other section leadership resigning from my position on the committee.

I would like to ask to be removed from Membership, Diversity and Inclusion Committee. I was appalled at yesterday’s delegate election meeting to have candidates state the following reasons for their votes:

1. I don’t have kids;

2. I don’t work;

3. I don’t teach;

4. I don’t have faculty meetings;

5. I’ve been in the ABA for 30+ year;

6. I have so many connections across the ABA;

7. I don’t need help around the house;

8. I’m good at scheduling.

I cannot in good conscience remain a part of diversity committees whose larger executive body allows rampant sexism, elitism and privilege to run rampant and unchecked. What is the message this sends to younger members of the profession? Diversity isn’t just about membership but creating an environment that respects and dignifies all people and rejects implicit bias. I will also note that the composition of this committee is overwhelmingly women. Why? Because women actually do the work. They can carve out the time here and there to get things done versus fumbling around trying to figure out why things don’t work and don’t happen. We need to have deeper conversations about diversity. But I am not going to take it upon myself to be part of inclusion efforts that are hellbent on maintaining hegemonies.

I respectfully resign from the ABA CRSJ Membership, Diversity, and Inclusion Committee

Kind regards,

Nadia

I didn’t receive any response to the letter yet, because I express this type irritation with increased frequency. But I saved a screenshot of the letter to share with my sister and friend to see that they would say. My seven year old daughter read it. I couldn’t ignore the comments, because the most important part of my life, my children, were being weaponized. When my daughter read it, she couldn’t even say the words, “I don’t have kids.” Because she couldn’t imagine.

If female U.S. Supreme Court justices experiences workplace discrimination, imagine the rest of us. Do we just smile and let it go away? Do we need to allow people to ignore us in the workplace and then gaslight us? No, instead we have to spend time figuring out how to deal with it. We have to sit in silence. Resist. And move on.

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Nadia Ahmad

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