On May 20, AABANY had the privilege to celebrate APA Heritage Month with the Kings County DA’s Office. DA Ken Thompson presented a citation to Hon. Pamela K. Chen, United States District Judge for the Eastern District of New York. Judge Chen shared her thoughts about the importance of promoting and celebrating diversity in our society, and the role of the judiciary in advancing the values embraced by diversity. She read from Justice Sotomayor’s dissent in the United States Supreme Court decision in Schuette v. Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, which bears repeating here:

And race matters for reasons that really are only skin deep, that cannot be discussed any other way, and that cannot be wished away. Race matters to a young man’s view of society when he spends his teenage years watching others tense up as he passes, no matter the neighborhood where he grew up. Race matters to a young woman’s sense of self when she states her hometown, and then is pressed, “No, where are you really from?”, regardless of how many generations her family has been in the country. Race matters to a young person addressed by a stranger in a foreign language, which he does not understand because only English was spoken at home. Race matters because of the slights, the snickers, the silent judgments that reinforce that most crippling of thoughts: “I do not belong here.”

Thank you, Judge Chen, for reminding us why race matters and matters still.