Over the 2022 holiday break, the BC Law Impact blog is running a series of some of the most powerful and fascinating admissions essays from first-year students. These personal statements, submitted as part of their admissions applications, tell a variety of compelling stories, but the thread connecting them all is an example of the kind of person who is attracted to a BC Law education: one who is driven to work collaboratively with others, achieve great things and make a real difference in the world.
We want to thank the Office of Admissions, and all of the student essay writers, for agreeing to share their stories with us.For more Admissions tips and other content, check out BC Law’s new TikTok channel.
Halfway through our cruise on the Potomac River, myself and the other Prudential Spirit of Community Award recipients were told to elaborate further on what convened us there that day. We had all been selected for making meaningful contributions to our communities through volunteer service. While I was eager to share details on the organization I had founded and hear from the other participants about theirs, I was hesitant. I could not help but think that there was a ceiling of sorts, a limit to the impact that any one individual, especially an adolescent, could have on such serious matters.
I grew up in Techwood, a housing project of inner-city Atlanta. Until it was razed in preparation for the ’96 Summer Olympics, Techwood was widely regarded as one of the most dangerous projects of any city in the country. Bodies in gutters and on gurneys, overdoses, gang violence, drive-bys. I saw it all. I still do, from time to time. So I escaped. Left it all behind. And I didn’t need a Wardrobe or a Tardis or a tricked-out DeLorean. All I had to do was press the ‘walk’ button, wait for the light to change, and walk across the street. It was just that easy. And when I stepped on the far sidewalk, as if by magic, the world changed from the pitted, blood-stained sidewalks of Techwood to the manicured lawns of Georgia Tech. That was my Narnia, my middle-Earth, my galaxy far far away. Use whatever metaphors and similes you can find. But the campus of Georgia Tech was as magical and mystical as any of those fantasy lands, except that this one was real. And it was mine.
All of us at BC Law Impact want to make it clear that the contents of this guest post is addressed to those who deny the very real genocide happening in Xinjiang, and is not meant to group together or target anyone because of their race. We recognize that anti-Asian racism is a very real and terrible thing, and we stand with all Asian members of our community in denouncing hate in all its forms.
By Danny Abrahim
“There is no genocide.”
If you feel attacked by the words “genocide,” “human rights,” or “the Chinese government is committing an ethnic and cultural genocide against millions of Uyghurs and violating numerous international human rights laws in the process,” this blog post is not for you.
After BC Law’s student organizations MELSA, APALSA, HHRP, ILS, and the Boston College’s Center for Human Rights co-hosted a talk on the mass detention of Uyghurs in China’s predominantly Muslim city Xinjiang, three things became abundantly clear: one, that oppression abroad can reach college campuses within the United States; two, that state-sponsored violence occurring in other countries intersects with different practices of law and U.S. movements; and three, how powerful speaking up and listening can be.
Unfortunately, these lessons were not entirely contained in the speakers’ talks, but were demonstrated in part by the reaction some students had to the event.
Korematsu v. United States is easily one of the worst Supreme Court decisions of all time, and one that people are often unaware of until they get to the strict scrutiny aspect of their Constitutional Law class. In fact, I distinctly remember getting to the World War II portion of history in APUSH back in high school, seeing a brief mention of this case, asking about it in class, only to be brushed off because it “wasn’t important.”
Yesterday was January 30th, 2022: Fred Korematsu Day of Civil Liberties and the Constitution, a day that is mostly only observed in California. On the anniversary of Korematsu, I’d like to draw attention to the article my APALSA mentor, Rosa Kim, wrote up a year ago–and also to weigh in with my own thoughts on the matter.
Korematsu is, undoubtedly, an ugly portion of US History that is often swept under the rug. Fred Korematsu was only 23 when he was ordered by the US Government to evacuate his residence and move into one of the Japanese internment camps prepared in the wake of Pearl Harbor, designed to herd the Japanese American population into controlled areas to supervise them. Anyone “at least 1/16th Japanese” were evacuated. Korematsu was the age many of us students are today when he changed his name and had plastic surgery done to try to avoid this mandate. As a US citizen, he did not understand why he was being herded off to camps as a prisoner merely for the way he looked. He chose to stay at home rather than relocate and was eventually arrested for his violation of the order. Korematsu then courageously appealed his case until it reached the Supreme Court, maintaining that the evacuation order was a violation of his 5th Amendment right.
The following post was written by 1L, Logan Hagerty. Logan is an avid member of the BC Environmental Law Society (ELS) and serves as a 1L Representative. ELS is the umbrella organization for the BC Land & Environmental Law program. We lead research, service, professional training, social events, and more.As President of ELS, it has been a pleasure working with the new students like Logan who share my commitment to environmental law. -Fiona Maguire
I read dozens of faculty bios and course listings when applying to law school. I keyword-searched more variations of “environmental law” than I thought was possible: “Land,” “energy,” “property,” “environmental justice,” and “natural resources,” just to name a few. You guessed it – I came to law school with an interest in environmental law.
Professor Plater’s bio (and bow tie!) stood out on the BC Law website. I’d struck a gold mine. I explored the BC site some more, finding pictures from the Environmental Law Society (ELS) Barbeque and Winter Weekend events. I was hooked! (I also attended both of these events). Now I view the environmental law program as more than a “gold mine.” The program is an old-growth forest; it offers rich, deep-rooted connections, support, and development.
Writing an Impact post at the beginning of the semester is never easy. How to recapture the excitement for school after a month’s vacation and a return to campus in the middle of a Boston winter? 1L’s gearing up for round 2, 2L’s grinding away, and 3L’s wondering why we are still on campus. In addition, with the latest Covid surge, another round of “when will this all be over” doesn’t exactly help the cause.
But in this case the answer of what to write about seemed clear to me: my experiences in the Innocence Clinic working for my client. While I am not able to disclose many of the details about his case, I can say that my client had a clean record both before and after the arson he was wrongfully convicted of, and that our clinic recently filed a motion for new trial looking to overturn his conviction using newly discovered evidence that demonstrates his innocence nearly twenty years later.
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.
In September 1995, 30,000 activists and 17,000 participants streamed into Beijing for the opening of the Fourth World Conference on Women. For the next two weeks, representatives of 189 countries discussed and developed historic commitments on gender equality and women’s empowerment around the globe. The final product of the conference was the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. It was a blueprint for advancing women’s rights and it set forth thorough commitments under twelve key areas of concern, including women’s health, education, violence against women, and women in the economy.
Unfortunately, over 25 years later, no nation has achieved gender equality in all dimensions of life, as originally envisioned by the Beijing Declaration. Nearly one third of all women suffer from physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes. Without adequate healthcare, nearly 800 women die giving childbirth every day. Over 80 million women globally have no legal protection against discrimination in the workplace. Not a single country is on track to achieve gender equality by the year 2030. But it seems we hear statistics like these all the time. Why, then, does gender equality remain an unattainable target?
“Sometimes I wonder if the Asian American experience is what it’s like when you’re thinking about everyone else, but no one is thinking about you.”
Let’s talk about this past week and the hate crimes perpetrated against Asian Americans the last few days in Oakland Let’s talk about this past year and our past period in American history This neglected narrative This invisible experience
While the country does its annual round of capitalizing off of Lunar New Year this weekend, I think about the Asian Americans who will spend what is supposed to be one of the most festive and important holidays in their culture cowering instead of celebrating Let me tell you about the attacks that have been happening because you won’t find them headlining on national news A conversation that is long overdue
An 84 year old Thai man was attacked in bright daylight and died from his injuries Vicha Ratanapakdee Say his name and pronounce all. of. it.
Numerous robberies and assaults in Oakland’s Chinatown A 91 year old man was pushed down It was like watching my own grandfather get slammed into the pavement Look up the video on your own if you want to see it but I refuse to circulate Trauma Porn – my trauma, your porn Non-POC: You cannot fathom how personally traumatizing it is to watch these videos
Faces slashed, grandmothers set on fire The sheer volume of violence is staggering I’m having a hard time grappling with this inhumanity against our elderly Our elders Who are revered and respected in our culture in a way unlike the culture of this country Who rose from the ruins of a broken nation seeking solace Searching for a better life in the Land of Opportunity that only knew them by the word Foreigner
In the wake of these assaults there is one word that comes to mind A word that has been grinded and conditioned into the Asian American experience: Invisible Anti-Asian sentiment since the beginning of this pandemic Targeted hate crimes have surged by almost two thousand percent
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
You cannot be anti-racist without acknowledging the Asian American experience.
Enough with the narrative of the Model Minority What is the Model Minority Myth? I guess I’ll save you the self-education And tell you about a nation that only respects you when you keep your head down and talk nice Get good grades and that’s the price of being tolerated in White America But despite staying out of trouble and being quiet equality never comes with being compliant
Because you see, the Model Minority Myth was weaponized by our government back during the Civil Rights movement to say that there is a “correct” way to be a minority The audacity of White Supremacy To give us a pat on the head for being silent To take a diverse race of people and reduce them to a monolith The audacity of White Supremacy To use us as their tools to undermine the Black fight for civil rights To pit minority groups against each other and further the divide
A nation built on the backs of Black people and immigrants Born with this burden that we were doomed to carry as soon as our lungs drew in the first breath The breath that got heavier and heavier with each year of life A life of N*****, Ch*nk, Oriental, “blacks” as a noun with a lower-case B, Dred Scott, Korematsu, Plessy Yellow Peril, Chinese Excluded, For Colored Only A life of imperialism and colonization and cultural appropriation A life of “I think you may have confused me with the other [insert indistinguishable face of color] in this room” and “I’ve never dated a [insert fetishizable object of color] person before” and “But what’s your real name” and “Can I touch your braids” and “Your English is good” and “You don’t sound Black” and “Your lunch smells funny” and “Go back to your country”
No amount of the Model Minority Myth embedded in deep interracial conflict will change the fact that we have always been seen and treated as secondary citizens If citizens at all
From a young age I didn’t know how to take up space It’s having to laugh off microaggressions because we are made to feel that the racism against us isn’t real – is miniscule, is just a joke Gaslit over and over We are told to embrace our “good stereotypes” I mean what exactly is our plight when we’re all just so good at math Right? But this Myth invalidates the reality of the Asian American experience Our internalized racism, our intergenerational traumas Our women the subject of hyper-sexualization Our men the epitome of emasculation It paints us as submissive and void of personality Strips us of our individuality It erases the millions of low income Asian Americans that exist in poverty It ignores the historic underfunding of Chinatowns as people huddle around what little reminders they have of their homeland It silences our struggles and shoves them to the sidelines This repulsive notion of white proximity
I’m tired of being told that we are not Oppressed Enough. Enough.
We are not your model minority.
I’ve said this a hundred times and I’ll say it again: The burden should not fall on people of color to be educators I’m going to be honest and I hope you will be modest enough to listen Because writing this piece was so exhausting So emotionally draining I wanted to swallow my words, swallow my pain To shut off my brain and just mourn in bed I wished I was privileged enough to write about Snow Day instead But instead I opened a Google Doc and my curtains and my wounds
This toxic rhetoric of “Your oppression isn’t as bad as mine” and “Now is not the time” Sorry but I didn’t know that racism had a sign-up sheet A hate crime against one community is a hate crime against all of our communities We all suffer under the puppetting hand of this systemic oppression The problem is not us and each other and this underlying tension The problem is White Supremacy so pay attention
If your anti-racism isn’t intersectional, are you really anti-racist? Don’t ask us to shrink our space when we have already gone our whole lives feeling small I promise that there is enough space to go around this arena of Oppression Olympics that was designed to be the modern day Hunger Games Designed to point fingers and call names but we are all pawns of the same system So shouldn’t we be asking instead: who designed it? And how do we get out? Unity is not possible with White Supremacy But unity against it is necessary to defeat it The only way out is together Diversify your narratives so we can do and be better So that we can uplift all of our communities and stand in solidarity This struggle for safety This struggle for scraps of space at each other’s expense
But now that I’m here, let me make this clear: Asian Americans cannot find safety in the same institutions that terrorize Black Americans Although we are wounded, the police must still be defunded Increased policing is not the answer Black Lives Matter So we must make good on our promise from last summer To use our privilege and protect the Black community So instead of calling for increased policing that will harm Black bodies Let’s get to the root and provide adequate services and resources for all of our communities Let’s rid this false notion that there is mutual exclusivity in this fight for equality The solution lies in addressing this violence that is rooted in White Supremacy A violence that is not the violence that we see but the violence that is Unemployment, Homelessness, Wealth Hoarding, Redlining, and Poverty
So let’s turn this mentality into a new story One where Asian Americans can take up space unapologetically and speak their truths and shed their invisibility One where our white and POC allies support us openly by condemning anti-Asian violence in their own communities I challenge you to check your own biases and follow through on your commitment to diversity See us, show up for us, and take on responsibility Hold accountability
Marginalized freedoms have always been and will always be intertwined My pain is your pain is our collective pain It is our collective grief and our collective loss And so your fight is my fight and my fight Should be yours, too
Rosa Kim is a second-year student at BC Law. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yesterday was nothing short of horrifying, but unfortunately, I can’t say that I’m surprised. This act of domestic terrorism was not unexpected. It was the result of one of the most divisive American presidencies of all time; it was but a likely consequence after months of repeated baseless allegations of election fraud.
That is why I am sick of the “this is not our America” rhetoric. Because this is exactly our America right now, and we best believe it. The “this isn’t our America” rhetoric lets us think that what happened yesterday was unpredictable. It allows us to neglect that the riots stemmed from a system historically built upon and contemporarily sustained by white supremacy. If we begin to believe what happened yesterday was an anomaly, it lets us shirk away from accepting that the root of the problem is deeper than the current presidency: it is an entire system that is in dire need of reform.