President’s Column: On Collective Resistance

 “Awareness of our situation must come before inner changes, which in turn come before changes in society. Nothing happens in the ‘real’ world unless it first happens in the images in our heads.” —Gloria Anzaldúa

If one thing has become clear under this government that has laid bare its white supremacist and patriarchal beliefs, it’s that our collective survival must be just that—collective. Our movements and communities have united in unprecedented ways, recognizing that the liberation of one is the liberation of all. NLG members have long known this, as we not only represent movements but are an integral part of them. We have been challenging systemic oppression and structural/institutional racism, sexism, homo/transphobia, imperialism and colonialism and anti-immigrant targeting since before “intersectionality” became used to describe the lived experiences of millions.

As we face relentless attacks on our lives and professions, the Guild is leading conversations across our various committees, chapters and projects to ensure that we continue to learn from our work and provide our communities with the best support possible. You’ve probably seen some of the excellent work from the National Office this past year, with in-depth reports and research that are tracking, anticipating and responding to attempts to silence dissent. Our regional conferences are helping build locally while sharing nationally. Our national committees have been actively participating in webinars, panels and retreats to share analysis across the organization.

It is critical that we show up fully now, and that we see the ways in which our work and movements are connected. The Guild is not only an anti-racist legal institution, it is also an anti-imperialist and anti-capitalist one. We understand threats of war to mean a way of exterminating communities of color by extracting resources from their lands and people. We also recognize war as a means of implementing totalitarian policies under a false pretense of patriotism to subject communities of color domestically to enhanced surveillance, detention, policing and incarceration—while simultaneously recruiting their family members to serve in that war. It is this understanding of the corporate state that has permitted the NLG for more than 80 years to follow the radical tradition of putting the tools of the oppressor in the hands of the oppressed.

Now, more than ever, YOUR participation is crucial. Join a committee, get more involved with your local chapter, run for leadership, get involved with a project, or plan a discussion. This is the time when we must build together, or vanish.

¡En la unidad esta la fuerza!

Above: NLG members at the Liberation Lawyering Conference at UCLA in March. From left: Natasha Lycia Ora Bannan, Judith Berkan Valeria Pelet del Toro, Annette Martínez Orabona , and Elizabeth Yeampierre at the 24th annual RebLaw Conference in February at Yale Law School following the panel, #PuertoRicoSeLevanta: Colonialism, Disaster Capitalism, and Solidarity Networks in Post-Maria Puerto Rico. (Photo: Saúl Ramírez)