Law in Contemporary Society
I have relearned that I am more than capable of using the law to fight on behalf of impoverished/ oppressed persons in the U.S. I use the word “relearn” because after the first semester of law school of which I ruminated on law school loans and weighed the idea that one must choose between “public interest” or “corporate”, I felt jaded and forgot why I was here. Since then, I have taken some time to do some soul searching. This summer I have been working in the Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Port Harcourt, Nigeria because I wanted to understand Human Rights in a different context than the United States because I felt it would give me a better understanding of where the United States is when it comes to Human/ Civil Rights. Another important thing is that, as I’ve mentioned in my previous essay, I am Nigerian-American. My family in from Rivers State, Nigeria. My parents are from Gokana in Ogoniland. Due to the extraction of crude oil in the Niger Delta, the environment has been completely devastated and lives have been completely altered. So coming to work in a legal capacity here, in a position to address and help my family in the Nigerian context, is full circle.

I am becoming more aware of the tension that I have being both Nigerian but also being born into an majority African-American environment, where I have come to understand my life experience to be mostly that of an African-American. My family in Nigeria is oppressed by the Federal Government and multi-national corporations and African-Americans are oppressed by various institutions in the United States. So I have been trying to navigate between those two spaces. During my short time here, a lot of my Ogoni relatives who live in mostly rural areas expect me to come back “home” and fight for them in order to increase their livelihood. The more I have these types of encounters, the more steadfast I become in the path that I am laying out for myself. Because I have lived in the United States my entire life, it is my home. Though I am not like most African-Americans. I know exactly where my family is from, we have our own distinct language (Gokana), distinct foods, traditional dress, and other things that would distinguish me from African-Americans, my skin color has instilled a similar experience to those that look like me in U.S. So I identify more so with African Americans than I do with Nigerians. My immediate environment and much of my perception is very much from a deep understanding of the African American experience. So much so that when I am posed with the question of whether I will devote my time to increasing the livelihood of the Ogoni people in the Niger Delta, the tension that I mentioned earlier is ultimately resolved with the resolution that I cannot spread myself two places at once and that I must devote my time to strengthening the lives situated in the United States. Though I acknowledge that I can play a supportive role for the Ogoni people here, but that’s something yet to be explored.

I am not interested in simply being a cog in the vast apparatus of corporate America; However, I do want to experience what it is like to work at a firm to build working relationships with fellow attorneys. and I would like to start building a strong financial foundation from which I can begin advocating for the have nots in society. Ultimately, I want to be the type of lawyer that speaks truth to power and one that helps build stronger minority communities so that ultimately the United States can live up to the constitutional and moral freedoms it presumes to protect. I am reminded by Martin Luther King Jr’s words when he states that “the relatively privileged Negro will never be what he ought to be until the underprivileged Negro is what he ought to be. The salvation of the Negro middle class is ultimately dependent upon the salvation of the Negro masses.”

So I am in the process of determining where I would like to expend my energy and who from the law school could help me excel in my efforts. This next semester I will be a research assistant for Professor Olatunde Johnson, who has a wealth of knowledge in various Civil Rights topics. I will ask my LPW professor who has her own consulting practice for guidance on how she established a reliable client base after her previous firm went under during the 2008 financial crisis. Moreover, I plan on taking Civil Rights Policy with Kendall Thomas and Civil Rights with Kimberly Crenshaw in an effort to deepen my knowledge on the strategies undertaken for social reform in the past. I am also taking Negotiations because it's just a practical skill to have and something that may serve me very well in the future. All of this will be supplemented with extracurricular readings similar to MLK Jr’s “Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community” and more engagement with the community of Harlem to learn more about the people I am trying to help. I would also like to take course on Urban planning and Real Estate development to have a better grasp of how the physical layout and business in a community affects livelihood. At some point after Law School, I will move back to Atlanta, Georgia to be involved in the community that shaped me. You are entitled to restrict access to your paper if you want to. But we all derive immense benefit from reading one another's work, and I hope you won't feel the need unless the subject matter is personal and its disclosure would be harmful or undesirable. To restrict access to your paper simply delete the "#" character on the next two lines:

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r1 - 15 Jun 2017 - 20:02:58 - DavidManadom
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