Law Foundation's Favorites of 2018!


Whether it's by reading, listening, or watching, there are many ways to stay informed and engaged with the issues that shape our society. Each week in December, we will be sharing our "Favorites of 2018" with you about each of our focus areas - it's a gift from us to you, for everything you've done to support the Law Foundation this year. These favorites, from our board, attorneys, staff, and volunteers will include podcasts, books, articles, and documentaries, that contextualize the issues our clients and community are facing and highlight why our work is critical in creating a stronger Silicon Valley.  

Our hope is that this list is a starting point that sparks larger conversations with your friends, family, and colleagues, and that it inspires you to be more involved in our community (and with us!).

You can help us by making a gift to the Law Foundation today. All gifts are tax-deductible and greatly appreciated. We can't do our work without you. Thank you for your commitment to justice.


"The Color of Law" by Richard Rothstein

The history of residential segregation in the United States is long and disturbing, and the government, at all levels, has created and perpetuated this ongoing segregation that still defines our neighborhoods and communities. As Rothstein writes: "We have created a caste system in this country, with African-Americans kept exploited and geographically separate by racially explicit government policies. Although most of these policies are now off the books, they have never been remedied and their effects endure." Through a historical analysis, Rothstein makes a case for the United States and its government having a constitutional obligation to remedy segregation in housing. Read the New York Times Review.

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Who Belongs? Podcast - Rent Control

This episode of a podcast by the Haas Institute for Fair and Inclusive Society at UC Berkeley examines aspects of the housing crisis - skyrocketing rent prices, stagnant wages, housing shortages - and how they connect to homelessness and increased social costs, such as sense of belonging, sense of community and social support, children's academic performance, physical and mental health, environmental health, and air quality. Listen here.

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"Struggle for Black and Latino Mortgage Applicants Suggests Modern-Day Redlining" - PBS

Discrimination based on race has been illegal for 50 years since the passing of the Fair Housing Act. Yet problems like redlining (a discriminatory practice by which banks and insurance companies refuse or limit loans, mortgages, insurance, etc., within specific geographic areas, especially inner-city neighborhoods) persist - in 61 metro areas, people of color are more likely to be denied a conventional mortgage. Watch here.


"Congratulations, You're On Your Own: Life After Foster Care" - Documentary

In this documentary, you'll follow a group of young adults as they tell their stories about navigating foster care and the hardships they face as they transition out of the system. When young people "age out" of the foster care system (they reach 21-years-old, the maximum age requirement needed for their caregiver to receive financial support), they are often forced to leave their guardian's home and figure out life on their own. These real-life stories remind us of our own clients who face the same hardships - nearly every foster care youth in Santa Clara County is assigned a Law Foundation attorney and we work tirelessly to ensure their safety and security. Watch here.

ACLU "On Liberty" Podcast about School Discipline

The school-to-prison pipeline severely affects students who are facing increased police presence at school and severe punishments for routine misbehavior that can result in arrest and criminal charges - and students of color are disproportionately impacted. In this podcast, the ACLU discusses the pipeline and what it means for our children. As part of the Law Foundation's education rights work, we assist students when they or their parents feel they are mistreated at school or are not receiving adequate resources to succeed. Listen here.

"Foster Care's Burn Book on Me" by Noel Anaya

Former foster youth Noel Anaya was placed in foster care when he was one-year-old. In this article, Anaya tells his emotional, empowering story as he obtains his foster care court records - 10 binders of paperwork detailing his life in the system. For foster youth, obtaining their court records can be an enlightening and critical step when moving into adulthood. Anaya is also working on a documentary about teens in the system and his own experience (keep an eye out for Law Foundation attorney Ben Ebert!). Watch the trailer here.



55 Steps

Based on a true story, this film explores an uphill legal fight for a patient's rights that led to Riese v. St. Mary's Hospital and Medical Care Center. In this case, brought in the name of Eleanor Riese by the California ACLU, the California State Court of Appeals declared that patients in involuntary mental health treatment have the right to exercise informed consent in most cases regarding the use of antipsychotic drugs. This case still governs the hearings conducted by the Law Foundation's Patients' Rights Unit and established a legal standard for determining capacity to refuse psychiatric medications that are used nationally and around the world. Featuring an award-winning cast, including Helena Bonham Carter and Hilary Swank, this film tells an inspiring and heartfelt story of friendship and combating mistreatment. Watch here.

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Hasan Minhaj's Patriot Act - Immigration Enforcement

Comedian and host of the Netflix show "Patriot Act," Hasan Minhaj analyzes and contextualizes United States' xenophobic immigration policies by exploring the history of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and other issues that contribute to the current anti-immigrant climate, shown most recently through the example of the Central American caravan. Using data from The Marshall Project, Minhaj uses facts and humor to demonstrate how U.S. immigration policies are broken. As one of several co-counsel representing immigrant minors in the Flores Settlement Agreement, the Law Foundation helps ensure the standards that govern length of time and conditions in which migrant children can be held at federal detention facilities are enforced. Watch here.

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"UNAIDS Report: 9 Million Are Likely HIV Positive And Don't Know It"- NPR

 This year's theme for World AIDS Day, on December 1, was "Know your HIV status." A new report from UNAIDS (Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS) found that about 9.4 million people are likely HIV-positive and don't know it. The UNAIDS also just launched a global partnership to eliminate HIV-related stigma, which continues to be widespread around the world. People living with HIV experience discrimination based on their gender, gender identity, race, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, and immigration status. Our Health Program provides services to people living with HIV to ensure that discrimination like this doesn't undermine their rights, including access to health, work, and a stable income. Read here.


As social justice lawyers and advocates, it is critical that we work to understand the complex challenges our clients experience every day. This includes working to understand structural racism and systemic inequalities that pervade through policies, practices, and cultural messages. At the Law Foundation, we challenge these systems and assist clients in navigating them daily. With the adoption of a strategic Race Equity Initiative, we examine these systems with a more critical lens to better meet the needs of our clients and the communities we serve.


"Seeing White" by Scene on Radio

This podcast takes a critical look at American social and government systems and structures, focusing on the way that whiteness is assumed to be the norm and therefore positioned to benefit. The historical context of the creation of whiteness is critical to understanding how our systems embody and perpetuate racism and discrimination. Listen here.

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“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas

As a New York Times Bestseller and inspiration for a film released in October by the same name, The Hate U Give is a novel written for young adults with a message that anyone can learn from. After Starr Carter, a 16-year-old black youth, witnesses a police officer murder her unarmed friend, she processes the trauma and turns to activism. From 12-year-old Tamir Rice to 18-year-old Michael Brown, police brutality is a reality for many children and teens of color. Thomas, the author, writes a powerful take on the difficulties facing young African Americans growing up in the United States. Read a review here.

"So You Want to Talk About Race" by Ijeoma Oluo

Race and racism can be difficult topics to talk about if they're not part of someone's daily life experience, but this book is for everyone. Oluo takes an accessible and approachable avenue to address the most sensitive and charged issues in the United States regarding racial disparities and oppression by being straightforward and funny. From white privilege to police brutality, this New York Times bestseller breaks down the systems of power, how they work to perpetuate and uphold racial oppression, and how each of us can do our part to help dismantle them. Read this review from the National Book Review.

We really hope you enjoyed the recommendations from our board, attorneys, staff, and volunteers! To create a more equitable community and society, we all must do our part to stay informed and engaged. We also hope that you will take this moment as an opportunity to become involved with the Law Foundation and its mission to increase access to justice by providing free legal services to low-income and underrepresented people and families.