My Experiences as a Black Woman in Law School
Updated: Jan 11
With all of the injustice going on in the world, I think it is important for me to take the time to share with you my experiences as a black woman in law school.
When I was four years old, I had a dream that one day I would become an attorney. Back then I had no idea that there were different types of attorneys or what the actual work entailed; all I knew was that I loved to argue and fight for what I believed was fair. Fast forward to 2018, I was accepted into my top two law schools and had to choose between the two. One school was an HBCU which was definitely more in my comfort zone after attending Spelman College. The other, a predominantly white institution, which I ultimately decided to attend because of the scholarship I received (I mean hey, who wouldn't want to go to law school for free).
I am a first-generation college student and the first in my family to go to law school. Before attending law school the only insight that I had into being a lawyer came from television shows such as How to Get Away with Murder or Law and Order: SVU. However, law school is entirely different than what I've seen on television... and the experiences I've had I don't think I could've ever prepared myself for them.
Did you know that in 2019 it was reported by the American Bar Association that less than 5% of lawyers in the United States are Black? I am one of seven Black students in my class. Let that sink in, ONE OF SEVEN. I know you're probably wondering how many students are in my entire class...there's about 80. If you'd like that in a percentage... that's 8.75%. This was a huge culture shock for me especially after just graduating from a Historically Black College. I was super uncomfortable at first, but I've always had to learn to be comfortable with being uncomfortable and decided to make the best of it.
There have been plenty of times where we will read cases in different classes where Black people have been harmed, treated unfairly, and so much more. Some of the cases we read, especially in Criminal Law, are horrific and sometimes very triggering. And of course, it doesn't help when all of your classmates turn around to look at your reaction just because the case at hand involves a Black person. I've also experienced debates on whether Black people are targeted by police more than other races and ethnicities. Of course I know the answer is yes, but I've had to learn that there are really people out there who do not believe that. There are people that believe that police always get it right... and that if Black people are being targeted by the police it's because they did something wrong. There are so many things that run across my mind during these times. Do I react? Do I stay calm? Will they see me as an angry Black woman? Do people even care? These are the questions that are always on my mind.
I also live in a town where I see more confederate flags than anything... on license plates, flag polls, and just around the town. Yes, you read that correctly. In 2020 there are still people in the NORTH that parade around confederate flags... oh and there was that one time where people were passing around KKK flyers to try and recruit people in the town to join the KKK. So you can see why it gets overwhelming.
I feel like I constantly have to work 10xs as hard to prove that I am here because I am smart, hardworking, and motivated. I am good enough. I never want people to think that the only reason I have been afforded opportunities is solely based upon the color of my skin.
Law school has been physically, mentally, and emotionally challenging. There were times where I truly didn't know if I was going to make it through and there were definitely times where I wanted to drop out. I've been through more than I could've imagined during my first two years of law school. From the Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings, to the KKK flyers being distributed in the town I live and attend law school in, to Covid-19, and now to the killings of so many unarmed black men and women by the very hands of the people who are supposed to protect us.
These experiences are not mutually exclusive to my law school experience. I have so many friends that attend different law schools all over the country, and we all experienced similar things as Black law students in America.
Law school has not been all bad, but these are just some of the experiences that I've had that I really don't talk about. I share this with you all because it is important for me as a Black woman to challenge and extend myself into arenas that have traditionally sought to exclude me as a woman of color. We need more Black people not just in the legal field, but in every field. We need to make a change. We need to keep fighting and fighting until we gain what we rightfully deserve: equality.
Below are some resources that can be used to get involved with our fight for Black Lives.
Rest in Peace to all of the beautiful souls we have lost during these unprecedented times.
#BlackLivesMatter today, tomorrow, always, and forever.
ERIC GARNER - JOHN CRAWFORD III - MICHAEL BROWN - EZELL FORD - DANTE PARKER MICHELLE CUSSEAUX - LAQUAN MCDONALD - TANISHA ANDERSON - AKAI GURLEY - TAMIR RICE - RUMAIN BRISBON - JERAME REID - GEORGE MANN - MATTHEW AJIBADE - FRANK SMART - NATASHA MCKENNA - TONY ROBINSON - ANTHONY HILL - MYA HALL - PHILLIP WHITE - ERIC HARRIS - WALTER SCOTT - WILLIAM CHAPMAN II - ALEXIA CHRISTIAN BRENDON GLENN - VICTOR MANUEL LAROSA - JONATHAN SANDERS - FREDDIE BLUE - JOSEPH MANN - SALVADO ELLSWOOD - SANDRA BLAND - ALBERT JOSEPH DAVIS - DARRIUS STEWART - BILLY RAY DAVIS - SAMUEL DUBOSE - MICHAEL SABBIE - BRIAN KEITH DAY - CHRISTIAN TAYLOR - TROY ROBINSON - ASSHAMS PHAROAH MANLEY - FELIX KUMI KEITH HARRISON MCLEOD - JUNIOR PROSPER - LAMONTEZ JONES - PATERSON BROWN DOMINIC HUTCHINSON - ANTHONY ASHFORD - ALONZO SMITH - TYREE CRAWFORD - INDIA KAGER - LA’VANTE BIGGS - MICHAEL LEE MARSHALL - JAMAR CLARK - RICHARD PERKINS - NATHANIEL HARRIS PICKETT - BENNI LEE TIGNOR - MIGUEL ESPINAL - MICHAEL NOEL - KEVIN MATTHEWS - BETTIE JONES - QUINTONIO LEGRIER - KEITH CHILDRESS JR.- JANET WILSON - RANDY NELSON - ANTRONIE SCOTT - WENDELL CELESTINE - DAVID JOSEPH - CALIN ROQUEMORE - DYZHAWN PERKINS - CHRISTOPHER DAVIS - MARCO LOUD - PETER GAINES - TORREY ROBINSON - DARIUS ROBINSON - KEVIN HICKS - MARY TRUXILLO - DEMARCUS SEMER - WILLIE TILLMAN - TERRILL THOMAS - SYLVILLE SMITH - ALTON STERLING - PHILANDO CASTILE - TERENCE CRUTCHER - PAUL O’NEAL - ALTERIA WOODS - JORDAN EDWARDS - AARON BAILEY - RONELL FOSTER - STEPHON CLARK - ANTWON ROSE II - BOTHAM JEAN - PAMELA TURNER - DOMINIQUE CLAYTON - ATATIANA JEFFERSON - CHRISTOPHER WHITFIELD - CHRISTOPHER MCCORVEY - ERIC REASON -MICHAEL LORENZO DEAN - AHMAUD ARBERY - SEAN BELL - BREONNA TAYLOR - GEORGE FLOYD.