Even when I made it to law school, I still struggled with whether I belonged and whether I could actually be successful there. But, after my first semester of law school, something happened that altered the course of my legal career. The then-Dean of the law school (an older White male), reached out to me and offered me the opportunity to be his research assistant. Yes, he reached out to me. I did not ask and I did not apply. One day, as we sat in his office discussing a case for his book (he is the co-author of one of the leading treatises in partnership law), he looked at me and said “you’re special.” Those two words, coming from him, gave me the confidence I needed to excel in law school. That same Dean is also responsible for me securing a coveted judicial clerkship with a federal judge after law school.
Yes, there is an ugly side to this country that is a daily reality for people who look like me. And we have a long way to go towards achieving racial justice and equality in this country. But I cannot ignore the many good-hearted Americans, of all color, who helped me with my own journey. They were there as I tried, as a teenager, to adapt to a new world. They picked me up in their family minivans for soccer tournaments. They wrote me letters of recommendation for college and for law school. They let me sleep in their homes. And they recommended me for jobs. Those people helped me see the good in America. And they are working tirelessly to leave behind a better America for their kids, their grandchildren, and mine. I believe in them. Because of them, I have hope of a better tomorrow. Because of them, I’m hopeful for America.
Salomon Laguerre lives in Atlanta. He is an attorney and currently works in-house as corporate counsel for The Home Depot.