42 Clearinghouse Rev. 165 (2008-2009)
Race-Conscious Community Lawyering - Practicing Outside the Box

handle is hein.journals/clear42 and id is 171 raw text is: Race-Conscious Community Lawyering

By Tammi Wong

Tammi Wong
Volunteer Attorney
Legal Services of Northern California
515 12th St.
Sacramento, CA 95814
916.551.2150
tarnmwong@grnail corn

*T    he growing cultural diversity throughout the country is leading to the forced in-
tegration of cultural, social, and political mores between people and systems in
the United States. Over time the interaction of cultural differences will result, I
hope, in a more tolerant and aware society. However, the newly emerging multiracial
communities in states other than California and New York lead to a tension between
cultural isolation and acculturation and assimilation.' This tension comes from ad-
justment by new population groups to the structure of American society and is found
not only between ethnic and racial population groups but also within ethnic popula-
tion groups themselves. Nonnative arrivals struggle in adapting to a sudden upheaval
of norms: structural, cultural, social, and political. Public interest advocates can de
crease the burden placed on newly arrived population groups to adapt to American
society  We can also create awareness about our society's obligation to incorporate
values and practices of diverse population gToups into our own systems and decision
making. Here I describe community la,'yering as a strategy to develop cultural com-
petence between our client population and the systems with which our clients interact
by providing them with the tools and resources necessary to establish a presence in
their communities. Citing the Sacramento Hmong Mediation Council as an example.
I discuss some community-lawyering principles that can apply to any racial or ethnic
population for whom ive provide advocacy.
'W1KCFStNN IAR MENT OF \ORK RCE DF VELOPMENT MIGRAN, REPJGE- AND LAPOR SERE,  is c'  NiNRA  REFUGEE POPULATION CiApN 12006),
httpl/dwd wivConsa .qov/rig rantsancrefugees/pdffiles/projO6arrivals.pdf (from  2004 to 2005 a total of 3118 Hmong
refugees resettled in Wisconsin); nnesota Council of Nonprofits, Hmong Refugee Resettlement wvw.mncn.org'
nmongbriefing rim (last visi~ed Apri 26 2008) (about 45.000 Hmong people lived in Minnesota in 2003)
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