The young girl was sick, afraid, and ashamed when she came to the hospital. She had had an unwanted pregnancy. In Uganda, abortion is illegal. Without access to safe, legal reproductive health care, she turned to a traditional healer. The traditional healer helped her end the pregnancy but she developed an infection. Given the legal jeopardy and social stigma of abortion, the girl tried to keep it a secret and delayed seeking care; by the time she came to the hospital, she was septic and needed surgery to survive.
My friend was serving as a visiting physician at the hospital, teaching obstetrics and gynecology to medical students and resident physicians. She quickly performed surgery to control the infection. But that was just the start of the girl’s treatment. Northern Uganda is under-served and remote. Public health resources are lacking and hygiene can be difficult to maintain. Surgery is dangerous, but so is post-operative care. The risk of infection remains high. So, the girl had to spend months in the hospital, where doctors and nurses monitored her and changed her surgical dressings on a daily basis until she healed. She had to go back to the operating room three more times during that period. Through care and great perseverance, the medical team avoided having to perform a hysterectomy to eliminate the infection. When she could finally go home, she left quickly and quietly. My friend said it was likely her youth, the resilience of a teenager’s body, that allowed her to survive.
“Mary’s gaze fell on Henrietta’s feet, and she gasped: Henrietta’s toenails were covered in chipped bright red polish. ‘When I saw those toenails,” Mary told me later, “I nearly fainted. I thought, Oh jeez, she’s a real person. I started imagining her sitting in her bathroom painting those toenails, and it hit me for the first time that those cells we’d been working with all this time and sending all over the world, they came from a live woman. I’d never thought of it that way.’”
As part of the summer reading before my high school biology class, we were asked to read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. The book offers a fascinating take on the ethical issues surrounding the first immortalized human cell line, discussing the injustices at the intersection of class, gender, and race within the American research and medical system. What most resonates with me from the story – even years later – is the excerpt above. When Mary Kubicek, a lab assistant, is performing the autopsy on Henrietta Lacks’ body, she notices Lacks’ bright red painted toenails. For months up until that point, Kubicek had been focused on the scientific aspect of the HeLa cells and how significant they were for advancing medical breakthroughs. In that exact moment, she grasps the personhood and humanity of the woman whose body lies in front of her.
Twenty years ago yesterday—September 10th, 2001—I was five and a half years old growing up outside of Boston. That day, my mom and I went to the nearby Chestnut Hill Mall (having since been gentrified and recast as The Shops at Chestnut Hill) to try and find myself a new pair of shoes for the new school year.
Plumbing the depths of my foggy and halcyonic recollections of late 1990s and early 2000s Boston, I recall a Stride Rite on the second floor of the mall—our destination that day. I wistfully remember Stride Rite, a Boston-based children’s footwear chain, for its sand tables, toys, and vivid atmosphere. It was, in essence, everything that shopping as a kid usually was not—fun.
I recall picking out a pair of light-up sneakers—second only to Heelys when it came to the playground hierarchy of kids’ footwear.
I couldn’t wait to get to school and showcase my shoes, banging them against any object in sight to activate the lights.
There’s something strange about thinking back to that time. Much is made by historians, sociologists and journalists about the profound effects and transformations that the attacks and aftermath of September 11th, 2001 had on our country, and our world.
As someone born in 1995, I’ve found myself in a generational no man’s land. A few terms have been thrown around labeling those born between 1995 and 2000 as cuspers, zillenials, or born in “the gap.” Are there really significant differences between generations of lawyers, in terms of their professional and personal goals? Where and how do I fit in? In today’s blog post, I’m diving into how Millennial and Gen Z perceived characteristics are viewed in the context of the legal profession.
According to a Major, Lindsey & Africa survey of over 200 respondents born between 1995 and 2000, Gen Z law students are seeking a balance between a flexible work arrangement while maintaining mentor-relationships and skill development. In addition to a focus on flexibility, many of the Gen Z respondents are interested in a career in government or nonprofit work.
“They wanted to feel the work they’re doing is making an impact,” Bosker LaFebvre said. “They feel personally responsible that they needed to get involved.”
Jackie Bokser LeFebvre, managing director of MLA’s New York associate practice group
As a rising 2L interested in environmental law and cleantech, I can relate to the desire of making a positive impact through law. As the world faces widespread inequality, climate change, a healthcare crisis, and more, it’s not surprising that I’ve heard many of my classmates say the same. There also seems to be a greater emphasis on mental health. In the 2021 Deloitte Global Millennial and Gen Z survey, Millennial business leaders indicated a clear focus on well-being and mental health, yet many Millennials and Gen Zs see their employers’ efforts as inadequate.
Today I am hosting a guest post from my friend and classmate, Yeram Choi. -Ian Ramsey-North
A vast majority of us have been called by an incorrect name, other than the one assigned to us at birth, for a myriad of reasons.As a Korean American, however, it is a common occurrence for me as I bear “The Cost of Being an ‘Interchangeable Asian.” The weight of this burden ranges from a quick laugh at Starbucks when I see the wrong name on my order, to a deep sense of shame when others call me by an incorrect name in the classroom or at the workplace. In every instance, I am called by the name of another Asian individual in the room.
Growing up, I heard every phonetic variation of “Yeram” you could possibly imagine, but I did not really mind. I unabashedly corrected others when they mispronounced it because I was proud of my unique name. Every day promised a new adventure as I heard yet another version of my name. But, I eventually hit a wall in high school. Fueled by teenage angst on top of years of exacerbation, I assigned myself an “English name” and vowed to live the rest of my life as “Leah.”
Admittedly, this abrupt decision spawned a disjointed approach to my identity. On the one hand, “Yeram” desired to stay loyal to her Korean heritage. This would be the natural thing to do, since she was born and raised in South Korea. On the other hand, “Leah” simply wanted others to get her name right, without unnecessary, emotional exertion. In that moment when I decided to go by an “easier” name, however, my sense of urgency to assimilate as “Leah” trumped my desire to stay true to my cultural roots as “Yeram.”
As AAPI Heritage Month comes to an end, we reflect on the tragedies of the past year and the surge of anti-Asian violence and racism that many Americans have faced.
At the same time, we celebrate Asian American pride and Asian American joy. We acknowledge the collective and diverse Asian American experience. We commemorate all the different ways we identify as Asian American.
Throughout the past semester, APALSA has put on a number of events to educate and engage the community in these discussions, here at BC Law and beyond. Some highlights include a book giveaway for BC Law students, a Minari movie watch party, the Instagram Story Project (which can still be found on @bc_apalsa), and America’s Anti-Asian Racism: Looking Back and Moving Forward — a joint collaboration event with Boston University APALSA featuring panelists Dr. Sherry Wang and Professor Andrew Leong.
This past month, APALSA has been working on another collaboration event. BC Law’s Just Law podcast invited APALSA to be featured in one of their episodes, and some members share their stories and provide insight on what it’s like to be an Asian person in America. In this episode, they address their personal experiences with the Model Minority Myth, the notion of the Perpetual Foreigner, and struggles with self-identity and sense of belonging. They discuss Asian American empowerment, cultural barriers and cultural reconciliation, and the various ways that racial trauma has been embedded in their lives and in our society.
In their conversation, they find that many of their experiences have been similar, and they can find a sense of camaraderie and validity in their lived experiences. However, they also find differences in their lived experiences and viewpoints — a testament to the multifaceted nature of Asian American identity, and dispelling the notion that Asian Americans are a monolith. Just Law and APALSA invite the BC Law community to tune in on this episode as they create space for an open and honest conversation highlighting the challenges and experiences that are uniquely Asian American.
You can listen to the podcast below. A video Zoom recording of the episode can also be found at the bottom of this post.
Podcast co-hosts Joann Plaisir and Tom Blakely are back together in studio to talk about returning to campus, the On-Campus Interview (OCI) process, and how to adjust to the new normal. Bonus feature: a very special call-in guest!
Finally, BC Law has been working with the Yellow Whistle Project this past month to distribute yellow whistles to members of our community. The Project’s mission statement is as follows:
“In nature, yellow is the color of daffodils and sunflowers, signaling the advent of spring, bringing hope, optimism, and enlightenment. In America, yellow has been weaponized against Asians as the color of xenophobia. The Yellow Whistle™ is a symbol of self-protection and solidarity in our common fight against historical discrimination and anti-Asian violence. The whistle is a simple gadget with a universal purpose — to signal alarm and call for help — for all Americans. We shall not remain silent, because we belong.”
A shipment of one hundred and fifty whistles have arrived at BC Law and will be distributed on campus (distribution details to follow). Members of our community are encouraged to pick up a whistle to show support in our collective fight against anti-Asian hate and to stand in solidarity with the Asian American community, as members of our community have so done during these past few months.
AAPI Heritage Month may be over, but this conversation is not. Anti-Asian violence is not. Our efforts to continue striving to be anti-racist cannot be over. We are still learning — all of us. We continue to expand our understanding and knowledge. We check our own privileges and biases. We reflect on our own complicity to racist systems and recognize the ways in which we uphold white supremacy. We show each other compassion as we learn and unlearn.
We celebrate being Asian American. We delight in it. We take pride in it.
Rosa Kim is a rising third-year law student at BC Law. Contact her at email@example.com.
My semester ended over a week ago, so of course I already miss BC Law desperately. Final exams really just leave you wanting more. Hindered by my inability to time travel forward to the fall semester, I’ve decided to instead live vicariously through Elle Woods so that I can get back to the law school experience.
Thusly, while viewing the lauded documentary film “Legally Blonde” for the first time, I engaged in a critical analysis to see just how well it actually captures the genuine law school experience. In its totality, I would say the film is 99% accurate to what incoming students can expect from their 1L year at BC Law. However, there are a few minor inaccuracies worth mentioning. Just ten, as a matter of fact. Here they are:
As everyone keeping up with the media lately will be aware, the current situation in India is dire. At the beginning of the pandemic, India was doing relatively well, with rising cases under control and recovery rates relatively stable. India was scheduled to send millions of doses of vaccines to countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In fact, approximately ⅓ of the population in the world’s poorest countries was relying on India to deliver their vaccines.1 Now, India itself is in calamity, with over 300,000 cases being reported daily – and many experts believe this number is a significant undercount. There is a shortage of oxygen, ventilators, and hospital space, to the extent where parking lots are now being used as mass cremation sites.2 Reading this news and seeing these photos is, of course, troublesome to everyone. Watching all of this unfold as an Indian-American immigrant, though, has been especially taxing.
I find it almost impossible not to acknowledge the recent attacks on the Asian American community. The same way I desire every conscious soul to affirm that Black lives matter- I must also affirm that the life of each Sister and Brother in every beautiful culture within the Asian American community matters.
Vulnerable conversations are powerful because it forces us to acknowledge our deficits and choose our mode of liability. That is, we can choose to ignore our own complicity in a system that breeds hatred and systemically condones discrimination, or we can actively work to dismantle this evil. I’m afraid that far too many people in our society, perhaps subconsciously, perhaps even myself, have fallen into the former.
Dr. King forcefully condemned this passivity in a Letter from Birmingham Jail when he blamed the stagnated progress of civil rights on White moderates, who were more devoted to a “negative peace in the absence of tension” than a “positive peace in the presence of justice.” Although his purpose, at the time, was to rally around the agitating methods of the Civil Rights Movement, Dr. King’s rhetoric echoes today as a condemnation of complicit silence.
Where are you, CNN? Where are you, my fellow activists and leaders of social justice? Deafening silence from the news media and our so-called allies Feigned outrage only when it’s trendy I am traumatized by your apathy
In February of 2019 I was a senior in college in my final semester. I was also an intern at NBC Sports Boston—an awesome opportunity that I really enjoyed. I’ll admit it—I’m a huge sports fan. Not just in the sense that I watch a lot of games, but in the sense that I have a framed, autographed photo of Patriots running back James White scoring the game winning touchdown in the greatest comeback in NFL history (Super Bowl LI, which I attended) mounted in my living room. This photo is next to David Ortiz’ #34 jersey, which is next to an autographed Tim Thomas hat, next to an autographed team photo of the world champion 2007-08 Boston Celtics.
Are you getting the picture?
So it goes without saying that I was beyond thrilled when I actually got to help cover Super Bowl LIII—the final championship of the Brady-Belichick era, a run of success so long it stretched back from when I was in preschool, to when I was getting ready to graduate from college. It was a fitting ending on a number of fronts.
But in the back of my mind, I knew trouble was on the horizon.