Recent events highlight what we already know; this country has a long-standing systemic history of racism and oppression. We acknowledge the pain of the families in the Black community and the recent tragic killings of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and, most recently, the horrifying video-taped murder of George Floyd. These are only the most recent manifestations of centuries of entrenched racism and discrimination and violence against Black people. We condemn injustice and violence in all its insidious forms. We stand with victims in the Black community and all who suffer oppression and injustice.
We want to take a moment to speak candidly to our Black community members. We recognize your pain and your feelings of exhaustion over the injustices you face every day. The color of your skin should not impact how you are treated, but it has, and it does, and we need to do our part to help make it stop.
Recent events have created an inflection point, a call to action for each and every one of us to do better, to listen, to speak up, to take action, to be a part of the solution. Systemic racism is deeply rooted in our society and all of our institutions, and we have not done enough to do our part to eliminate racism and discrimination.
As a firm, we pledge that Shaheen & Gordon will do better. We have the resources and a responsibility as advocates for justice to combat racism and inequity. We will aggressively evaluate and discuss our role as a business and a member of the communities in which we live and practice and be more mindful about the racism that has shaped and continues to shape our institutions.
Now is not a time to be complacent and stay in our comfort zone. It is a time to take a stand. We recognize as a firm now and historically made up of more than 95% white lawyers and staff that we have benefited as an organization from white privilege. We are obligated to be mindful of that privilege and to work to change systemic racism and oppression. We need to and we pledge to better educate ourselves, to listen to our Black and non-white colleagues and friends, have difficult conversations in our firm and in our communities, and to speak up and act when we see injustice. Such conversations can be uncomfortable, but this is not about our personal feelings—this is about listening to and showing solidarity with the Black community and pursuing justice. The smallest of actions taken consistently and mindfully and in the right direction by all of us may help to put us on that path.
We have been talking about what Shaheen & Gordon can do to be a part of the conversation and what affirmative steps we can take. As part of that process, we want to listen to your voices, out of humility and recognition that we do not know the answers or even the questions.
We are establishing, effective immediately, a diversity committee. We seek input and volunteers—from among our staff, associates, and partners—to be a part of the committee to help us to assess our hiring and recruitment practices, business practices, operations, decision-making structures, etc.—to put our words into action and to be part of the solution.
We are donating $10,000.00, to be divided evenly between the Equal Justice Initiative and the Black Lives Matter Foundation. We will match any donations made this week by our lawyers and staff to these or other similar organizations, up to an additional $10,000.00.
We welcome questions, suggestions, and any feedback from our Black community members about what we are doing and could do to be better.
—The Partners at Shaheen & Gordon, P.A.