A few weeks ago I was privileged to captivate the Honorable Jenny Rivera’s ear for a short while.
Just tonight I had the opportunity to meet and talk to the newest Associate Judge of the Court of Appeals, Sheila Abdus-Salaam, at Amistad Long Island Black Bar Association Annual Barrister’s Ball at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Long Island.
The Honorable Sheila Abdus-Salaam was confirmed by the State Senate on May 6, 2013, slightly less than three months after the Honorable Jenny Rivera who was confirmed on February 11, 2013. The Honorable Sheila Abdus-Salaam is the first African-American woman to serve on the Court of Appeals of the State of New York.
Some of the remarks made by outgoing President Valerie M. Cartright struck a cord in terms of presenting a unified and cohesive front. The theme was, “The Power of Us.” Ms. Cartright emphasized that it is important to lift each other up and that we have an obligation to each other. We draw upon the power in each of us and collectively to move forward. And we must remember our past, without which we cannot move forward.
Another speaker mentioned a somewhat clichéd, “respect for all people.” Cliché perhaps, unless you bother to really look at what this means. And, recognizing how often microaggressions, subtle, and overt forms of racism, prejudice, and other “isms” pervade much of our communications and belief system, the message often seems to fall on deaf ears. There is much work to do to break the shackles of prejudice.
So, we do need to push these messages; but more than that, we need to lead by example, educate where training is lacking and marginal, and intervene, especially when there are transgressions of Principal A: “take care to do no harm.”
Perhaps it is time for some of the aspirational General Principles, unlike the Ethical Standards, to have more of a bite.
With the Honorable Sheila Abdus-Salaam
With young friend, Maurice Williams, who as of tonight is Amistad’s new President