A few months ago I was at a forum where the moderator asked the panelist (all Latinos working in large firms/government) what made them so lucky in the face of dismal statistics that say Latinos can’t make it in law.
It’s a difficult question and I think the instinctive reaction is to think of the hard things you did to make sense of how we overcame a system of oppression to join a privileged profession. Because if I think back on my journey to become an attorney, I can pick out countless of examples of difficult things I had to do to succeed—long nights; working multiple jobs; feeling lonely because no one in my family had ever experienced this, etc.
It is so easy to fall into the trap and think that I did all this. While I did do the heavy lifting and made the executive decisions, if I were to answer why am I so lucky– the answer is that I had the right amount of advocates in my education to make the right amount of difference.
And I won’t bore you with a play by play of who helped and how, but the catalyst was definitely my high school freshman English teacher. A woman whose name, I’m ashamed to admit, I don’t remember. She was a new teacher– young and Black (which I do think made a difference)– she came to me as the first semester was ending to tell me she was referring me to the Honors English program. That little boost propelled me into the Honors program in a different school, and I’m sure my journey would have been different and much more difficult if not for her. Talk about luck.
There are so many roadblocks and obstacles that impede young Latinas from pursuing higher education—let alone law school. But those big and small acts of support (whether we recognize them at the time or not) are what make the difference.
So even as we gear up for finals or become overwhelmed with the holidays and case-loads, let’s take a second to recognize two important things: 1) Our determination flies in the face of opinions and voices that tell us we shouldn’t and can’t. We most def should be grateful for our grit. 2) The many (sometimes silent) advocates that made just enough difference to strengthen our resolve and often made our paths easier.
When you really think about it—what made you so lucky? Who are you thankful for?
I hope everyone has a happy thanksgiving! I’m off to the farm and am super excited for a carbs-overload. And FYI if you’ve noticed that I’m down to two post a week it’s because of work—I hope to get back on schedule by the New Year!