Meet TUPOCC

Gabriela Lopez                      
Immigration and Criminal Defense Attorney           
San Francisco, California     
Senior Co-Chair

TUPOCC is necessary as a caucus within the lager NLG because it provides a perspective that is often absent from radical work. The NLG purports to help radical communities and as a result it often takes on the struggles of communities of color. Sometimes these interactions can create tensions. Many members of the NLG come from a privileged background, making it difficult for the NLG to adequately understand these communities’ struggles. TUPOCC is made up of people of color with different backgrounds and experiences and as such we can provide some missing perspective and raise concerns when necessary to ensure thoughtful interaction.                                                                                                                                    

TUPOCC is also a space where NLG members of color can feel supported and safe. This sense of security and belonging is what first encouraged me to take a leadership position in TUPOCC. I hope that as senior co-chair I can help make TUPOCC more visible and help connect people of color within the NLG.

My participation in TUPOCC has had a tremendous influence on my practice. As an immigration and criminal defense lawyer, I see people of color every day being swallowed up and spit out by the legal system. This can be jarring for a person of color and can bring a sense of helplessness to the profession. Being able to connect with other attorneys who have similar experiences and background allows me not only to adequately represent my clients but also to analyze ways in which we can fight back against racism and privilege.

Feel free to contact me if you have any suggestions or questions about TUPOCC or the NLG as a whole. I am always happy to provide information and support. gabacules@gmail.com

 

Lilian Jimenez                       
Labor Lawyer           
Chicago, Illinois
Co-Chair                                                              

I along with the other officers coordinate the work of TUPOCC at a national level. As a TUPOCC co-chair, I represent TUPOCC at National Executive Committee (NEC) meetings and vote on issues that affect the wider organization. Along with the senior co-chair, I organized the anti-racism training for the NEC and the skills building workshop for members. I firmly believe that if the NLG is going to grow and stay relevant to today's social movements, it must embrace a more diverse organization especially in leadership positions.

I became involved in the social justice field because I wanted to work to uplift oppressed communities like the one I grew up in the Southside of Chicago.  My background as a Latina and as a daughter of immigrants who struggled to put food on the table informs my work because I am able to identify with and understand the plight of low-wage workers that are seeking legal assistance regarding their rights on the job.      

Thank you for your interest.  Please get involved!

 

Alix Gonzales Buchanan                   
Law Clerk      
San Diego, California
Treasurer

I am the Finance Officer, which means that I am working with the other officers and finance committee members to build the financial foundations of TUPOCC. We are working on the basics for now but we will soon be looking into fundraising and projects. The NLG does amazing work, but it is up to every organization to be self-reflective about whether it would like to grow and improve. Particularly for progressive organizations, it is important to "walk the walk," which can be difficult without constant checks. TUPOCC provides that type of mirror and can serve to grow membership in communities of color. Members and leaders of color are vital to organizations that are working closely with diverse communities, like the NLG. This fuels me to put myself out there and take risks. Especially as a woman of color (and especially in this economy), I feel that I need to be exceptional in order to be noticed. That has also been the driving force in moving me to pursue public interest work, given that so much of the work and organizing directly affects members of my community.

Interests: Vegetable gardening, baking, and beer making.  I also am very interested in personal finance.

If anyone wants to shoot me a question or just talk about budgets, spreadsheets, etc. please feel welcome to contact me at ahgonzales@gmail.com.

 

Amy Lien Cross                     
Public Defender        
New York City, New York
Communications Chair 

My position entails managing the emails that we receive and building our presence and streamlining communications on our many social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google and Yahoo groups. I am also working on building our website so that we can have a central landing place for our many TUPOCC members to access information about TUPOCC chapters, TUPOCC events, jobs, and other bulletins.

TUPOCC serves as a place where people of color within the National Lawyers Guild can unite to help shape the larger NLG agenda. We do that by critically analyzing the work of the larger Guild through a racial justice lens, by coming together to confront issues of relevance to ourselves and our communities, and by challenging the NLG to be inclusive, race-conscious, and self-reflective as a radical legal organization. The power of TUPOCC is in its ability to bring together social justice activists of color from around the country so that we can build community and bridge the work that we do, as we continue to redefine who we are as a caucus. This is the primary reason I became involved. 

The clients I work with in criminal court are people of color. And yet, the practice of law in this country is comprised mostly of lawyers and law students who are white. Simply by being a person of color in this profession, I challenge that racial imbalance. But more importantly, the experience of identifying as a person of color, a Chinese American, an Asian American, a Hapa, a multiracial person—a person who bears many identities—has influenced everything I understand about race and racial justice. That understanding is what brought me to the practice of criminal defense and working to dismantle, to whatever extent I can, "The New Jim Crow."

Three things I'd like to share:

1) I was excited to see such a strong showing of criminal defense lawyers at last year's convention in Pasadena and I would love to build a strong network of radical/progressive defenders of color for idea sharing and support. If anyone is into that, please be in touch.

2) I would challenge each of us to invite ONE person to join TUPOCC over the coming year—just do it!

3) Finally, any ideas about how we can improve TUPOCC communications are always welcome. Email tupocc@gmail.com.

 

Jessica Yamane
Student, Northeastern University School of Law
Boston, Massachusetts
Secretary

My first NLG convention was in Philadelphia in 2011 and I felt that the TUPOCC workshops one of the most intentional workshops there. This inspired me to step into a leadership position with TUPOCC the following year.

As the secretary of the board this year, it is encouraging to see the growth and recognition that TUPOCC has received. Critical race theory has always undergirded my learning experience here at Northeastern School of Law and a common theme of reading through the works of Kimberle Crenshaw, Mari Matsuda, and Cheryl Harris is that the student can’t just read through the literature and say, “This is exactly what I’m experiencing as a student of color in law school!” That recognition of one’s own experience in the narratives of too many others cannot be how the journey ends. I think that TUPOCC is critical, because it creates a space for common experiences to be shared, for coalitions to be further developed, and for regional actions that can address some of the challenges people of color commonly face in the legal profession.

As the TUPOCC secretary this year, one of my goals is to develop a questionnaire for TUPOCC members that we can use to gather some of the narratives of people involved in the NLG. The purpose of this questionnaire is to draw attention to the challenges that people of color still face within the legal community. It will help us to develop anti-oppression trainings that are directly informed by the lived experiences of people TUPOCC members.

I am Chinese and Japanese American, and the way that my race and ethnicity are read have influenced the work that I want to eventually pursue. The history of exclusion that people of Asian descent have experienced here in the United States is a critical component of why I want to work with immigrant communities in the near future.