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Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Condemns Attorney General Miyares’ Attack on American Bar Association Standards for Diversity and Inclusion

"Miyares has recommitted his opposition to racially diverse learning environments despite decades of research proving they lead to better outcomes for all students."

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From the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC):

Virginia Legislative Black Caucus Condemns Attorney General Miyares’ Attack on American Bar Association Standards for Diversity and Inclusion

The members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus (VLBC) are in strong opposition to Attorney General (AG), Jason Miyares’, decision to join 20 of his Republican peers in signing a letter urging the American Bar Association (ABA) to eliminate its diversity and inclusion standards for law schools. Governor Youngkin’s administration has established a pattern of encroaching on the freedoms of educational institutions, with the result being the further erosion of access for Black students to public schools, colleges and universities, and now law schools.

The conservative Attorney Generals argued the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn affirmative action a year ago is in conflict with the existing ABA standard. How to address and define race and racism in the law is an ever changing question and we see no body more fit to interpret the law than the ABA.

In signing this letter, AG Miyares has recommitted his opposition to racially diverse learning environments despite decades of research proving they lead to better outcomes for all students. More importantly, Black people have a right to be everywhere regardless of the personal feelings of politicians. The letter described the ABA’s determination as a threat from which their “profession, and our country, may never recover.” In 2022, the ABA found the percentage of Black lawyers had declined over the past decade to just 4.5 percent.

AG Miyares is right that if inclusive pipelines are created for Black people to exist in legal institutions and have representative influence over our legal code, the profession, and our country, will transform. We will all be better for it. Issues of race could be drawn out until the end of history or we can address them and build a world in which these standards are not necessary at all.

The attorneys argue that law schools should drop their commitment to racially diverse communities altogether, describing it as an “explicit demand to make hiring decisions based on race.” In their advice on how to make schools less racially diverse, the attorneys conclude that “racially motivated recruitment or financial aid” should also be banned.

By attacking race conscious recruitment policies and financial aid programs, AG Miyares has articulated his understanding of systemic racism. He simply chose not to address the underlying question: why do institutions see a decline of Black students when they stop considering racial barriers in recruitment and education financing?

This letter comes just after members of the VLBC won an uphill battle to pass a budget which prioritizes a quality education for all Virginins. Aside from interpersonal racism, Black people experience communities which lack financial resources, attend underfunded schools, and do not have the same opportunities for professional mentorship and networks as their peers. These compounded disadvantages are not coincidental. These circumstances are planned outcomes of hundreds of years of race based discrimination and political strategy. We must plan and strategize our way out of it.

The attorneys were correct in their claim that the potential legal complications in getting this wrong will cost nothing compared to the “harms suffered by those deprived of educational and employment opportunities solely because their skin is the wrong color.”

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