In the midst of an argument with law school classmates, I once remarked that I felt simultaneously invisible as a woman of color, or more specifically as a South Asian woman. A well-intentioned friend offered consolation in the form of an assurance: she had never viewed me as not-white, and in fact had always thought of me as white. This statement was not intended to insult me—in fact, I immediately knew what she meant: she had always thought of me as a person first—her vision of me was free of any overt racism. But I did not want to be seen as white. To me, being seen as neutral or white felt like another form of racism. By excising the cultural component of my identity, my friend had been trying to do me a favor. She had not meant to insult me. Instead, she had inadvertently failed to recognize that the cultural component of my identity cannot and should not be excised. I am first and last a South Asian woman—this identity permeates every aspect of my being. This Essay will use the lens of the experience of the South Asian woman in the law to explain why the legal community should not bleach out the individual cultural identities of its members. The legal workplace should do its best to welcome new peers holistically, leaving cultural identities intact. Cultural competency should be integrated into already-existing legal teamwork training—such a change won’t be a panacea, but it’s a step in the right direction. This Essay seeks to advance the conversation about how best to recognize and embrace the value of cultural identity in the legal workplace.[excerpt]
CU Commons Citation
"Keep the Patels: How Culturally Competent Teamwork Can Alleviate the Law's Diversity Retention Problem,"
Concordia Law Review: Vol. 2
, Article 7.
Available at: http://commons.cu-portland.edu/clr/vol2/iss1/7