Dear Fellow BLSA members, students, faculty, administrators, and the greater legal community,
Mitchell Hamline’s Black Law Students Association (BLSA) would like to take the time to acknowledge the outrageous events that took place in Washington D.C yesterday. We join Dean Niedwiecki, SBA President/Vice President, and other organizations in their condemnation of the “failed insurrection” that defaced, vandalized, and desecrated the very foundation of our democracy. This was a clear attack against our democracy, Constitution, and freedom; It was a clear stance against change, diversity, equity, and inclusion. The unlawful behavior that occurred again highlights the urgency of addressing the clear racial bias in our country. But as former President Barack Obama put it “we’d be kidding ourselves if we treated it as a total surprise.”
This past year alone, we have watched so many of our Black and Brown brothers and sisters abused and killed by law enforcement, the national guard, and even white supremacist during peaceful protest against police brutality, while sleeping at home, sitting in cars, etc. However, yesterday, we were forced once again to watch law enforcement, the national guard, and federal security show us that they do know how NOT to use deadly force.
As we watched a dangerous mob break into, storm through and loot one of our nation’s most symbolic and sacred buildings, we all became infuriated, sad, and confused. We also witnessed the President of the United States, condone, and incite this unlawful behavior, after months before he condemned BLM peaceful protests. We join the nation in calling for “immediate impeachment” and “criminal charges” against his tyranny.
Another day of an emotional rollercoaster has passed, we are again required to go back to our “normal everyday lives” and show up. We are not afforded the same opportunities to show our pain, our hurt, our fear, our true feelings. BLSA recognizes this and is tired of the reality that Black people face daily. We live in a world that has created a narrative of black people as being “unhuman”.
As future legal professionals, this is the culture and climate that stands before us. This clear racial bias will continue unless real systemic and institutional change happens, in action and not just theory. As human beings, we are appalled and offended by the continued injustice thrust upon communities of color. The riots and looting that took place yesterday by Trump supporters is a blaring reminder of how only Black and Brown faces are seen as “criminals” and viable “threats.” It is a blaring reminder of how much more progress our country still has to make.
Lastly, President Obama said it best – “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or if we wait for some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.”
BLSA wants to acknowledge you and your feelings. You have a safe space with BLSA leadership in these trying times. “We see you.”
Aretha Haynes, Mitchell Hamline School of Law Black Student Association President 2020-2021
DeAijha Oliver, Mitchell Hamline School of Law Black Student Association Vice President 2020-2021
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Other Lawyer Assistance Programs. For students in other locations outside of Minnesota, you are also encouraged to contact your local lawyer assistance program for the same free, confidential services you may receive from Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers in Minnesota. Here is a link to the information in all jurisdictions.
Text help for young people of color. The Steve Fund is an organization that specifically focuses on mental health for young people of color. They have a crisis text line, where students of color can text STEVE to 741741 and receive a live Crisis Counselor response.
24/7/365 help for LGBTQIA+ youth. The Trevor Project focuses on mental health for LGBTQIA+ youth. Call 1-866-488-7386 or Text START to 678678. Chat at: https://www.thetrevorproject.org/get-help-now.
ABA resources. There are also a TON of additional resources available in this ABA Well Being Toolkit.