I first heard of Dr. Eddie Moore’s 21-day racial equity habit building challenge from Kelly Dermody, a friend and colleague of mine from Lieff Cabraser Heimann & Bernstein, who is also chair-elect of the American Bar Association section of labor and employment law. Dermody shared with me an email she sent to her entire team to join her in the 21-day challenge. The purpose of the challenge is to create effective social justice habits, particularly those dealing with issues of power, privilege, supremacy and leadership. Over a 21-day period, participants perform one action to understand how issues of power, privilege, oppression and equity impact society. The action may be a reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos, or observations, as a way to form and deepen community connections. It is a suggested plan that can be adapted to a sector, an ethnic/racial group, or interest area.
Dermody’s email came at a time of great sadness for our country, following the death of George Floyd. As we all witnessed the parade of instances of police brutality and excessive use of force, it was particularly difficult as a white woman to imagine the fear, uncertainty and deep grief suffered by persons of color. The thought that individuals often go about daily life with the fear that at any time, their life or the lives of their dearest family and friends could be threatened merely because of the color of their skin was incomprehensible. Through my friendships with many attorneys of color and others who are in protected classes, I have learned their stories of being treated differently based on the color of their skin or their status as gay or as differently abled. So, when I saw Kelly’s email, something called deep within me to do something, as standing by and empathizing without action did not seem to be an option. And so, without fear or hesitation, I emailed my colleagues at Clark Hill inviting participation in the challenge.
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