A Message to NAPABA Members After Charlottesville

Dear Colleagues,

Racism, hate, and bigotry have no place in our country. Leaders do not equate individuals who support ideologies of hate with those who stand defiantly in support of diversity and inclusion, in support of our nation’s ideals. There is no moral equivalence between bigotry and tolerance.

As we said on Monday following the horrible hate on display by neo-Nazis and white nationalists and the tragic loss of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, “Our core values—acceptance, diversity, and inclusiveness—will overcome the forces of hate and racism.”

We cannot look away from this hate. We must challenge it. We must stand for our core values. This is not a time for ambivalence or equivocation.

We come together as Asian Pacific American attorneys. We have different personal stories, but we all come together as a community with a shared history. We come together because we recognize the power of our community and our profession. We have seen what happens when our communities or other marginalized groups do not have a voice in the law or in the public sphere.

We are leaders with the privilege and ability to ensure that these voices are lifted up and that these stories are told. Just as past civil rights leaders have done for us, we must speak up to advance our principles of justice and equality and to help heal our nation’s deep scars. We continue to draw on the strength and resilience of our history. We must protect civil rights and our vision of democracy.

I am proud to see law firms, law professors, corporations, organizations, and others affirm the commitment of the profession to diversity. I am proud to see individual lawyers stand in common humanity to drive away darkness.

Be a light that guides people to peace, understanding, tolerance, and inclusion. Provide pro bono legal services to the people and organizations opposing racism and violence. Call on your leaders to unequivocally and publicly denounce racism and all those who support it. Have the tough conversations with your families and friends to help them understand and process the events of these trying days.  

As lawyers committed to our values, we must be in the courts, the legislatures, and the community to protect the progress we have made since the civil rights era and move forward towards “a more perfect union.”

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “The arc of moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.”  

As lawyers, law students, and legal professionals, we must help bend it.


Cyndie Chang
NAPABA President, 2016-17

National Asian Pacific American Bar Association | 1612 K St. NW, Suite 510 | Washington, D.C. 20006 | www.napaba.org