By Danielle (Danny) King, TUPOCC Co-chair
The United People of Color Caucus (TUPOCC) of the NLG held its annual meeting at the #Law4thePeople convention this year in Portland and saw almost 70 people in attendance (many from the West Coast). If you don’t know what TUPOCC is, we are an alliance of law students, legal workers, attorneys, and other people of color (POC) within the NLG. Even though the NLG has been around since 1937, TUPOCC was only formed in 2004 after a small cohort of law students of color saw the need to create a space for people of color at the convention where there was none. TUPOCC seeks to unite people of color in the NLG, to represent communities of color, to help people of color achieve their potential, and to function as a powerful force within the NLG, the United States, and the world.
As Kelsey Blackwell so eloquently stated in their article, Why People of Color Need Spaces Without White People, people of color “need places in which we can gather and be free from the mainstream stereotypes and marginalization that permeate every other societal space we occupy. We need spaces where we can be our authentic selves without white people’s judgment and insecurity muzzling that expression. We need spaces where we can simply be…” Our annual TUPOCC meeting is a necessary space where people of color who attend the convention can feel supported, acknowledged and find ways to combat racism, oppression, and discrimination both inside and outside of the Guild.
TUPOCC is not one dimensional. TUPOCC prides itself on having an intersectional approach to the issues that affect our communities. Racism, sexism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, anti-immigrant, anti-sex worker, and classist notions tend to harm our communities at much higher rates than non-POC. Indeed, the everyday work that most TUPOCC members engage in challenge these forms of discrimination on a daily basis but we must not forget that the NLG is a microcosm of society. Though the NLG is one of the nation’s most progressive legal associations, there is still much work to be done within the Guild to make sure that people of color feel respected and valued. We must and should do more to support POC in the Guild.
“Oppression thrives off isolation. Connection is the only thing that can save you.
Oppression thrives on superficiality. Honesty about your struggles is the key to your liberation. Your story can help save someone’s life. Your silence contributes to someone else’s struggle. Speak so we all can be free. Love so we all can be liberated. The moment is now.
We need you.”
- “Speaking Freely” video interview with TUPOCC Co-Founders
Above: TUPOCC annual meeting at the 2018 #Law4thePeopleConvention in Portland, OR.