Turning off “White Noise”: Natasha Távora Baker Discusses Dismantling Racist Violence in the Criminal Legal System

Natasha Távora Baker (’17), Staff Attorney at Equal Justice Under Law, contributed an opinion to Washington Lawyer magazine describing her personal experience of dissociating on viewing Suzan-Lori Parks’ play “White Noise” and acknowledging the shackles of both our past and present systems (“Turning Off the White Noise of Systemic Racism,” Nov./Dec. 2020). “I had flashbacks to times when I had seen my clients in chains — when I stood next to them or sat in front of them, trying my best to defend their humanity while they couldn’t even hold a pen properly. . . . The shackling of slaves and shackling of inmates are intimately bound by history. The criminal legal system is a legacy of slavery. Unfortunately, that legacy is drowned out by the white noise of racism, so ingrained in the American psyche that it can go unnoticed. . . . I hope more of us — particularly those of us in the legal profession who are white — hear the type of white noise that constantly reminds us that something is not right, rather than the type that just fades into the background. . . . Our violence-first system is a choice, and we can choose healing and accountability instead.”