Diversity in Community

Diversity in CommunityOrder DescriptionThis assignment is a way to begin exploring the concepts of this class and your relationship with them. For this paper, I want you to explore the following questions in a journal-like paper. Some of these questions may be difficult to answer, but show that you’ve considered the questions. Please cite class notes and class readings when discussing these concepts.It should be 3 pages, 12 point Times New Roman font, double spaced, with standard 1 inch margins.1. What is community? Think about how we’ve defined community and what community means to you.2. What is diversity? What is the relationship between the 2?3. What communities do you belong to? How are these communities organized and defined? How do you recognize diversity in those communities, if at all?4. Think about yourself and your individual identity. How does that fit in with a collective identity of the communities you belong to? Consider esoteric and exoteric information.5. What types of things do you wish to learn, explore, and come to understand about community throughout the course?6. How is understanding community an important first step of a liberal arts education?“CONTEMPLATING JUSTICE”byGabrielle DavisCopyright 2010Just about 25 years ago, as I was preparing to graduate from Siena Heights College, oneof my most treasured professors, Sr. Pat Hogan, took me aside and said, “So, Gaby, just whatare you planning to do with the rest of your life?” I panicked. It was readily apparent that Sr.Pat had given that question a lot more thought than I had. Worse still, I was pretty sure Sr.Pat already had an answer, which I most certainly did not.Feeling as if I had just stumbled onto the set of The Graduate, I desperately scanned mysurroundings for a much needed distraction. Finding none, I stammered for a couple ofminutes before offering a sheepish answer. “Gee, Pat, I don’t know. Maybe I’ll become ateacher, like you.”“Forget about that!” Pat insisted. “I think you should go to law school.” “Law school,” Ishrieked! “What do you mean I should go to law school? I want to lead a contemplative life!I’m drawn to art and music and philosophy and literature! Law school is too competitive. It’stoo cut throat! I’ll be eaten alive! Besides,” I said, “lawyers have no scruples! How can youeven suggest such a thing?” By then, I was hyperventilating.Pat told me to calm down. Then, she handed me a book. Treasures of the VaticanCollections. It contained a catalogue of the major artwork housed in the Vatican Museums. Irecognized many of the works from the art history courses I had taken at Siena from FatherDavid Van Horn. As I leafed through the pages of photographs and color plates in Sr. Pat’sfamiliar office in Sacred Heart Hall, my wise teacher reminded me that I’d been given a greatgift in a liberal arts education. She asked me to consider how privileged I’d been to concentratemy undergraduate studies in the humanities. Sr. Pat maintained that I had an obligation –maybe even a moral duty – to put that gift to work for people who hadn’t been as fortunate oras privileged as I had been. And, what better way, Pat imagined, than to enter a professionwhere I could help give voice to people whose voices were rarely, if ever, heard. I feared, at thatmoment, that my fate had been sealed. “I’ll think about it,” I said.Some time later, I took a closer look at the book Sr. Pat had given me on that fatefulday. In it, I found a handwritten inscription that read:May your pursuit of wisdom be a continual source of comfort and joy that enables you to “actjustly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God.”It was signed, “Affectionately, Pat Hogan, O.P.”I recognized the quote in Pat’s inscription from the Old Testament Book of Micah. Inchoosing that passage, Sr. Pat simultaneously honored my Jewish heritage, validated theAdrian Dominicans’ commitment to peace and social justice, and gently urged me to publicservice. Sr. Pat’s message, and particularly her method of delivering it, resonated with methen, and has guided me ever since. Soon afterwards, I headed off to law school.That moment is particularly memorable because it encapsulates the influence that theAdrian Dominicans have had on me. Sr. Pat not only helped me decide what I was going to dowith my life, but she helped me define how I was going to live it. That was another gift.Many years later, after I had graduated from law school and settled into a comfortablecorporate law practice, a friend asked me to accompany her to a Take Back the Night march.Take Back the Night was then, and still remains, a local part of a global initiative to raiseawareness about violence against women. A group of about 50 or 75 women had gathered onthe courthouse lawn just before dusk. Some sang songs. Others played drums. There werecolorful t-shirts hung from clotheslines which, from a distance, appeared joyous and festive.On closer inspection, I discovered that each shirt was created by a victim or survivor of violenceand bore witness to a different survivor story.The stories revealed on the t-shirts were compelling and halting. I was drawn to thecolors and the lines and the words and the images depicted on the hand-crafted shirts. I washorrified by the descriptions of violence, but also amazed at the strength and courage and hopethat were also part of the vivid shirt stories.Later in the evening, after dark had fallen, the group closed in to a tight candlelit circle,and, one by one, women began to tell their survivor stories. The accounts of domestic abuse,sexual assault, stalking, and incest were harrowing. As I listened to story after story ofunthinkable crimes and inhuman cruelty, I began to recognize a theme I couldn’t bear to hear.In one recounting after the next, women had turned to the law to find justice only to findjustice just beyond their reach.One woman described how she had been held at bay by her machete-wielding boyfriendwhile the police interrogated her about what she had done to provoke the attack. Anotherwoman explained how a prosecutor threatened to throw her in jail if she refused to testifyagainst her violent abuser. Another woman told of how a judge dismissed criminal chargesagainst the man who raped her when the judge learned that the rapist was the woman’shusband. Yet another woman described how her newborn child was removed from her at thehospital when a child protective services worker found out that the woman’s boyfriend hadbattered her, though not her child.That night, I learned something I couldn’t have discovered from my comfortablecorporate law practice. I learned that, for many women, justice isn’t measured by landmarkcourt cases or sweeping legislative reform, but by a couple of hours of restful sleep, perhaps, orthe relief in seeing a little one hop off the school bus at the end of the day. I learned that thelaw is not as noble as those of us who practice it are taught to believe, and that, for manywomen, especially marginalized women, the law is quite capable of doing more harm than good.I learned that women’s experience of violence is as varied as the women who experience it, andthat a legal system that demands conformity to a one-size-fits-all solution for survivors ofgender violence is doomed to failure. That night, I learned that to “act justly, love tenderly andwalk humbly” as a lawyer would require much, much more of me than I had previouslythought.I soon left my comfortable law practice and joined the faculty at my law school almamater. In keeping with the Adrian Dominican tradition, Iset a research agenda that was rooted in gender equity and social justice. Within a short time,I established a domestic violence clinic where my students and I listened to and worked forbattered women and their children. In that way, I really did become a teacher, just like Sr. Pat.My students and I assisted our local district attorneys prosecute crimes of domesticviolence, sexual assault and stalking. We helped survivors obtain orders of protection. Wesecured new identities for battered women so they could escape detection by their abusers. Wedefended battered mothers in ongoing custody struggles. We worked with law enforcement andvictim advocates to improve safety and accountability within our local coordinated communityresponse to domestic violence. And, we helped extricate survivors from dangerousrelationships so they could achieve self-sufficiency and personal autonomy.Over the years, my students and I learned that while the law holds promise forsurvivors of violence against women, it is an imperfect system. We learned that for everysurvivor who achieves some semblance of justice, justice eludes many, many others. Welearned that the outcomes for battered women and their children are not likely to improvewithout substantial improvements to the justice system itself. Over the years, we learned thatto “act justly, love tenderly, and walk humbly” as lawyers in this field would again requiremuch, much more of us.In my own process of becoming, and through a habit of reflection that I developed in myyears at Siena, I often hearken back to Sr. Pat Hogan’s admonition. Although she isn’t hereanymore to ask what I plan to do with the rest of my life, the lessons I learned from Sr. Pat aquarter century ago endure today. If, as I suspect, justice for battered women requiressubstantial improvements to the justice system itself, then I am compelled to work toward thatend. I have recently, left my comfortable law school faculty position to join the BatteredWomen’s Justice Project, a national domestic violence advocacy program. I embark on thatnew adventure with Sr. Pat Hogan’s inspiration and the Adrian Dominican tradition as myguide. That is yet another gift – one for which I am eternally grateful.

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