A Welcome Splash of Color

By Radhika Patel, Deputy District Attorney, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office

February 2021

On January 7, 2021, then-President-Elect Joe Biden nominated Vanita Gupta to serve as the Associate Attorney General, the third highest-ranking position within the United States Department of Justice.  After she is confirmed by the Senate, she will be the first woman of color to hold this position. Gupta is a 46-year-old, 2nd generation Indian-American. She served as the head of the civil rights division of the justice department under the Obama administration. 

Per President Biden, Gupta is “one of the most respected civil rights lawyers in America.”  Her former ACLU colleague Steve Shapiro describes Gupta as “somebody who is very gifted at finding common ground without sacrificing principle” and someone who understands “the relationship between litigation and other forms of advocacy, and how to leverage both in order to achieve progressive social change.”  This exemplifies someone who truly understands what it means to be a warrior of justice.  I could go on and on about Ms. Gupta’s accomplishments as a lawyer, because believe me there is much for her to be proud of (and for us to be grateful for), but after reading several articles about her legal accolades, my favorite thing about her is that while she was conquering the legal world, she was also having breakfast with her family, cooking dinner with her two sons, and often walking to Carvel for ice cream. As a woman constantly trying to strike a work/life balance, I found this to be particularly inspiring.  As an Indian woman attorney I am proud to see someone who looks like me appointed to this position. The Biden administration has brought so much diversity, that for once, the people in charge look like the people they are in charge of.  And that is amazing.

On a side note, I am feeling like a slacker professionally. While I was researching I was really hoping she hadn’t gotten around to having children since I blame the stalling of my career largely on accumulating a husband and so many children in such a short period of time, but no luck.  I mean go, Vanita!  She’s met the requirements of being a good Indian daughter (married, cooks, and has kids) and has also slayed in the legal world. This chick is my hero.  A lot like Madame President, Jessica Kronstadt. I am inspired.