In the Jan/Feb 2012 Bar Journal the Bar Commission announced a newly adopted “Diversity and Inclusion” policy. The policy broadens the term diversity to be inclusive of almost every personal, cultural, and economic characteristic imaginable. But, the policy is not new, it merely elucidates the Mission and Vision of the Bar; to create a just system, respected, and accessible to all. Why the new expansive definition of diversity?
The globalization of the term diversity implies that integration of racial and ethnic minorities into the legal profession is, Mission Accomplished. As the Bar President states in his message, “[Diversity] is No Longer Black and White.” Really? Attorneys racially or ethnically different than the majority of Bar members are treated as equals? Then how do you explain that soon there will only be 3/71 District Court Judges and 3/108 City Court Judges that are racially or ethnically diverse? The minority community representative on the Bar Commission has no vote. Can readers name a medium/large firm with a minority partner?
The policy acknowledges identifiable groups are treated differently. Rather than identify practices that inhibit equality the Commission passively expands the definition of “diverse” groups, encourages diversity training, and prints articles. Rather a timid response to acknowledged disparate treatment.
The article’s account of how aristocrat Robert Shaw led a Negro regiment to “Glory,” 150 years ago, echoes the myth that discrimination is a historical footnote. Discrimination doesn’t vaporize because we admire historical figures, celebrate a holiday, or pass superfluous policy. We must remain vigilant and cognizant of barriers to equal treatment. Is the Commission reluctant to identify obstacles?
I write not to offend, but to remind fellow lawyers that, theoretically, we seek justice for all, even our own. Is there no Robert Shaw among us to lead the diverse charge?
Michael N. Martinez