Violet Sage Walker, chair of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, credit Karla Gachet, Washington Post


Wednesday August 23, 2023

08.23.23Carlos Aguilar

This California tribe is fighting the legal battle of a lifetime

More of This

Violet Sage Walker, chair of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, credit Karla Gachet, Washington Post

Violet Sage Walker is chairwoman of the Northern Chumash Tribal Council, a ChangeLawyers Legal Empowerment Fund grantee.

When Violet Sage Walker stares out at the calm waters butting against the shoreline of her hometown, she sees what was once the largest northern village of the Chumash people, who fished from traditional canoes in the open water, viewed sea creatures as their ancestors and believed in a “Western Gate” farther south where their spirits went after they passed away.

“All that is where we all lived,” Walker, one of the leaders of the Chumash tribe, said recently.

That coastal California shoreline and the water it touches are at the center of a reclamation movement led by the Indigenous Chumash tribe to revive and restore its heritage, culture and land. There are about 10,200 people with some Chumash ancestry left, according to the Census Bureau. Their effort is part of a nationwide “land back” movement by Native Americans to reclaim sacred sites. The Biden administration has established national landmarks for Native people and appointed the first Native American to a Cabinet secretary position, Interior Secretary Deb Haaland. Haaland, as well as other members of the Biden Cabinet, has spoken in favor of a Chumash marine sanctuary proposal.

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Fix our Appellate Courts by getting more BIPOC students to become judges

Say It Louder

Courtroom, credit Teen Vogue

Juvaria Khan is a former civil rights litigator and founder of The Appellate Project, a ChangeLawyers Legal Empowerment Fund grantee.

I have the privilege of working with future lawyers every day. After the United States Supreme Court gutted affirmative action, I knew they’d have something to say. “Only 5% of lawyers are Hispanic,” one of my Latina law students shared. This ruling “means that communities that need lawyers that look like them, think like them, and understand them will be scarce.”

She’s right — and as the leader of an organization changing the composition of our highest courts, I know that empowering students like her is more important now than ever.

This June, the Supreme Court released landmark rulings on affirmative action, criminal justice, and tribal rights. All of these cases disproportionately affect communities of color. Yet a group of mostly straight, white, and male attorneys and judges are arguing and deciding these cases — and most appellate cases — despite often having no lived experience with the issues before them.

Read the story on Teen Vogue

The Supreme Court made me rewrite my college essay

Less of This

People protest in front of the US Supreme Court on June 24, 2022, credit Brandon Bell, Getty Images

Sivaan Sharma is a senior at McCallum High School and Fine Arts Academy in Austin, Texas. 

My older sister frequently reminds me that I’m not a White person. She tells me that as an Indo-Fijian, I have to work significantly harder to achieve the same success as many of my White classmates who have been raised with more financial and educational privilege than I have.

To a certain extent, I understand what she is saying. As the son of an immigrant single mother, I know how challenging raising a non-White family in Austin, Texas — a largely White and increasingly expensive city — can be.

But I had not fully experienced the challenges that my racial identity could pose in an academic space until the Supreme Court ruled in June that colleges and universities could not consider race as a specific reason to grant admission. Though many would consider me a part of a privileged minority — Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders — likely to benefit from the decision, the reality is that Pacific Islanders like me do not have the same educational outcomes as our Asian American peers.

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The first openly trans male judge in US History

First But Not Last

Judge Seth Marnin, credit Columbia University

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has ushered in a major milestone for transgender people, appointing one of the first openly trans men to serve as a judge in U.S. history.

Seth Marnin, one of 15 appointees the governor’s office announcedWednesday, currently serves at Columbia University as the Director of Training & Education, Equal Opportunity & Affirmative Action. But if he is officially confirmed by the heavily Democratic state senate, Marnin will become a judge of the New York Court of Claims, which handles litigation against the state and its related entities. Marnin’s confirmation will mark the first time an out trans man has held any judge’s office in the U.S, according to the Governor’s office.

Read the Story on Them