Why Passive Civil Rights Strategies Aren’t Enough

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I have a peace sign tattooed on my wrist. When my friends get into fights, I mediate and do my best to diffuse the situation. But if there’s any life lesson I’ve brought away from my time at the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, it’s that sometimes aggression is necessary in order to bring about lasting change. My sociology and international studies have focused on why conflicts between communities persist. In short, ruling powers control legal, economic and ethical values in order to maintain their power, whether I’m studying racial caste systems within the domestic or international populace, judicial systems have a passive, responsive role to historic hostility.

At the LCCR, I helped instruct small business clinics, answered the intake line, organized past, and present legal cases, and reached out to donors, educating them on how their funds were being allocated. These experiences gave me exposure to different types of law such as corporate, tax, intellectual property, civil and litigation. But I soon realized that despite the stresses of maintaining this organization, we were simply maintaining the status quo. We were the belated responders to an emergency crisis. Many callers were facing scary, dire or depleted living situations, and were denied simply because of distance, limited resources or lack of evidence.

I enjoyed working with passionate attorneys who value justice over higher income, but I realized how limited pro bono civil rights organizations can be. Taking on individual cases of discrimination are important, but scrutinizing the judicial system that enforces colorblind racism in America will bring about greater results. I know I want to pursue a law degree in order to protect myself from prosecution, but to also help deconstruct the mechanisms that implement the naturalization and minimization of contemporary racism.

Written by Tizzy Tiezazu, BC Class of 2017

Safeguarding the People through Legal Discussion

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At the Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights and Economic Justice, we provide pro bono legal representation to low-income individuals and families facing discrimination. We also provide free workshops and clinics for struggling entrepreneurs working to get their small businesses off the ground. These are not small tasks, and more often than not the attorneys and staff work together to achieve our goals. I often thought our organization only served individual cases because of its small size, but I have been proven wrong. Through the partnerships with our pro bono allies, we have brought new attention to high profile cases such as 1) Doe v. Peyser 2) Racism against black and Hispanic police at Brookline PD 3) racial bias on Airbnb 4) Fisher II and more. Though some cases end in our favor, I am most proud of the discussions that have begun among all social circles. Only through talking, and sometimes debating, can we begin to understand each other’s realities.

I remember in a particular sociology class at Boston College, we were discussing the ramifications of having a large family while living in poverty. In order to reduce their financial expenditure, one student suggested that families should bear fewer kids. “Do you know how much condoms cost?” one student challenged. “They’re not that much,” the first student retorted. We discussed that the reason for this opposition was rooted in the impact of the cost of condoms on a given individual’s finances. One can assume the first student can afford to pay for condoms regularly. Similarly, I don’t believe that inequalities in America are simply ignored. Sometimes they are unobserved. Our ignorance of each other’s realities leads to misunderstanding, confusion, and disagreement. My education at BC has been crucial because I have learned that no matter our path of study, our perceptions of our world are limited to our own experiences and comprehension. We must always strive to learn things unknown to us.

Written by Tizzy Tiezazu, BC Class of 2017