Sanford Heisler Sharp Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Statement on Black History Month

On behalf of Sanford Heisler Sharp's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee, we sincerely hope everyone had a joyous and meaningful Black History Month.
On the last day of February, we would like to take this time to remind ourselves that the commitment to justice and equity is one we proudly carry throughout the year. Today, we reflect on this year’s Black History Month theme—Black Health and Wellness.
[1] Racism in the American healthcare system has a tangible effect on medical outcomes for Black Americans. For example, a study of white medical students performed in May 2020 showed that many wrongly believed that Black people have a higher tolerance for pain than their white counterparts.
[2] That study found that 73% of participants held at least one false belief regarding biological differences between races.
[3] Racially rooted biases and stereotypes such as these can and often do combine with socioeconomic disparities to have deadly consequences for Black patients. In addition to prejudice encountered from healthcare providers, Black Americans are 10% less likely to be admitted to the hospital than white patients and 1.26 times more likely to die in the emergency room or hospital. Black mothers are 3-4 times more likely to die from pregnancy-related causes than white mothers, and Black newborns face the highest infant mortality rate in the country at 11 deaths for every 1,000 births—more than double the mortality rate for white and Latinx infants.
[4] Black Americans and their allies have confronted the stark realities of medical racism to promote the physical, mental, and emotional wellness of Black people in America. Black Americans have led efforts in mutual aid and social support initiatives, building hospitals, medical and nursing schools, and community clinics in order to assist their communities in countering disparities that run rampant in our healthcare system.
[5] During Black History Month and throughout the year, we celebrate the efforts of these trailblazers and remind ourselves that the struggle against racism is fought on many fronts. We encourage anyone interested in learning more or supporting racial justice organizations to consult resources such as
those provided below.At the end of this year’s Black History Month, we look ahead to the future with hope. As a committee, we are encouraged by the fact that Black leaders and their allies are pushing back against racism and its many manifestations on a daily basis and helping to shape our evolving understanding of what racism means. We celebrate the elevation of Black Americans to important roles in our government— most recently, with President Biden’s nomination of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the Supreme Court of the United States. We encourage the United States Senate to swiftly confirm the president’s eminently qualified nominee.
We share the sentiment of Sanford Heisler Sharp Chairman David Sanford on Judge Jackson’s historic nomination:

“It makes me truly delighted think of Justice Brown Jackson: she is most qualified and would be the first Justice since Thurgood Marshall with experience as a criminal defense attorney. It also infuriates me, as we know that Judge Brown Jackson will be the first African American woman on the Court since the formation of the Court in 1790. 115 persons have served on the Supreme Court in our history; it is long overdue to have an African American woman serve in that role. My sincere hope is that President Biden nominates either Judge Childs or Judge Kruger should another vacancy occur fon the high court. Perhaps one day we will have a second African American woman as United States Supreme Court Justice. That would be a day of true celebration.”

In the meantime and until we are truly all free of the scourge of racism, we must all do our part to combat the barriers to racial justice both large and small. With that understanding, we sincerely wish everyone had
a very happy Black History Month and encourage everyone to maintain this focus on racial justice throughout the rest of the year.

Black Health and Wellness resources:

Racial Justice Organizations:




Sanford Heisler Sharp Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee Statement on Women’s History Month

This month, we celebrate Women’s History Month. The celebration of Women’s History Month in March stems from the significance of March 8, 1857, when female garment workers in New York City protested inhumane working conditions and low pay. Although their protest was violently broken up by the police, the women eventually succeeded in creating the first women’s labor union. On March 8, 1908, women again marched in New York City for better working conditions, as well as voting rights and an end to child labor. We celebrated March 8 as International Women’s Day.
[1] It is particularly important to emphasize these beginnings given the nature of Sanford Heisler Sharp's work. International Women’s Day was first known as International Working Women’s Day, and we all know the struggles working women have faced and continue to face each day. For example, in terms of pay discrimination, women’s median earnings are only 80.8% of men’s median earnings for full-time workers aged sixteen or older. Women earn less than men in almost every occupation,
[2] and the gender pay gap persists despite encouraging signs that it is narrower amongst younger workers than amongst older.
[3]Today, March 15, is Equal Pay Day, which represents the number of extra days—from January 1 to March 15—that women, on average, must work to earn what men earned between January 1 and December 31 of the previous year.
[4] However, because the gender pay gap is more severe for women of color, Equal Pay Day falls on different days for different groups[5]:
  • Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander Women’s Equal Pay Day: May 3
  • Black Women’s Equal Pay Day: September 21
  • Native Women’s Equal Pay Day: November 30
  • Latinas’ Equal Pay Day: December 8

What this means is, on average, that Native American women and Latinas must work for nearly two full years to earn what non-Hispanic white men make in one. While the gender pay gap for white women has improved over recent years, currently at around 79 cents on the dollar, the problem remains intractably large for racial minorities.[6]

As civil rights and employment attorneys, we confront these types of inequities each day in our work. However, in this month and on this day, we hope you take the time to reflect on how far we have come and how much farther we have yet to go and to re-dedicate yourself to this work.

We would also like to share a few interesting resources and events related to Women’s History Month, Equal Pay, and the law. Please feel free to circulate any additional resources you think may be interesting!

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