“Keep Showing Up” is a phrase that Des Linden, an American long distance runner, and winner of the Boston Marathon, repeats often. It’s a mantra that I use in my own running, particularly as I come back from injury and need to regularly remind myself that training is about showing up, even when it’s hard, and even when I don’t want to. I recently put it on a letter board in my office to remind myself of its importance in my life.
But its importance in other ways really crystallized for me recently as the Black Lives Matter movement gained global traction and became something that (as it should) matters too to brands, to white people, to all of us.
I debated a long time about writing this post, but I keep seeing that sign in my office, to “Keep Showing Up.”
I am a perfectionist, so I always want to do, and say, the right things. That has often kept me silent on things that matter, because I don’t want to make a mistake. But what I have learned in doing the work over the past several months is that speaking up is more important than getting it right. Listening is still essential, and I am doing that too. But being okay with getting things wrong (and being corrected, and doing better) is part of my learning process. Should be part of all of our learning process. So I am showing up. That means I am showing up personally, and I am showing up professionally.
We have shared a statement of solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, and that was a first step in showing up. But I know, very deeply, that we as an organization can do better. We need better representation on our board. We need better representation in our membership. We need better representation in our speakers. These are things I recognize, and will do better on. We cannot pay lip service to this. I promised my members last year that we were going to be having some uncomfortable conversations about gender and race, and I meant it. I’ll be showing up to be uncomfortable too. I know I’m going to make mistakes, and I welcome feedback on that.
One of the things I am committed to doing more of is amplifying black voices, and there have been many people this week who have shared their perspectives and stories. I am grateful to them for their labor. I want to include those here, because I think they’re incredibly valuable in understanding additional context to the work that we need to do in terms of diversity in the legal space. I would encourage all of us to keep showing up, for white folks to do the work ourselves and not ask our black colleagues and friends to expend any additional labor unless they volunteer to do so, to actively make space, listen, engage and NOT make the same excuses that we have made in the past. This is going to be a marathon, not a sprint, but just like a running marathon, I do believe that the work is going to be worth the effort.
Call to GCs: What Are You Prepared to Do to Prevent the Endemic Asphyxiation of Black Legal Careers? by Donald Prophete, a partner at Constangy, Brooks, Smith & Prophete
NDLS Dean G. Marcus Cole: “I am George Floyd. Except, I can breathe. And I can do something.” by G. Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean and Professor of Law
Why I Resist Casual Friday and Other Thoughts on Diversity and Inclusion: A Black Partner’s Perspective by Orlando R. Richmond Sr., a partner at Butler Snow