I am Her, She is Me. The Disturbing Truth Behind the Confirmation Hearings on Ketanji Brown Jackson
Ketanji Brown Jackson will forever be regarded as an icon in history. As the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court, Ketanji Brown Jackson came as an overwhelming exhale for Black Women everywhere - a symbol of hope, change, progress, and equity. However, that sigh of relief has rapidly turned to grit teeth and disappointment as we watched the confirmation hearing unfold before us. If you’ve been watching the senseless charade that the Republicans are putting on, you can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of shame for where our country is, and how they treat a superior qualified candidate based on race and gender.
As we all know, when someone is nominated for the Supreme Court, they bust go through their confirmation hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee where they are asked a series of questions to assess their fit for the position. Ketanji Brown Jackson is an exemplary candidate for the open seat as a Supreme Court Justice, and her qualifications are indeed far more superior than that of Brett Kavanaugh and Amy Coney Barrett, yet her confirmation hearing was vastly different and met with bias, racism, and misogyny.
Black Women have always had to overcome hurdles that men and white women have not, and will not ever face. Black Women must be ten times more extraordinary in any given thing to receive an ounce of the respect that white men and women get, and must adhere to a certain standard of behavior. Why? Because if we do not, we risk losing everything we have fought so hard for.
Amy Coney Barrett, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court had a rather unimpressive resume compared to Jackson, yet she rose to recognition and respect almost instantly. In Corporate America, Barrett represents Middle Management. Middle management is often promoted to VP level, without having comparable qualifications, and then is given the power to control who goes above them and who comes in the door after them. They are nothing but gatekeepers willing to sell their souls to keep white men in power.
Ketanji Brown Jackson on the other hand is being put through the wringer, to put it lightly. Left and right white men are slinging question after question in efforts to bait her into an emotional or reactive response, belittling her qualifications and her worth with logical fallacies and loaded questions.
Do you see where I am going with this? Republicans were outraged at the nomination, and Ted Cruz went so far as stating that it was offensive to white people — if you can believe he would be so ignorant. You can only imagine the strategy behind their questions regarding critical race theory, conspiracy theories, race-based crimes, discrimination, and everything in between. The premise of this confirmation was not to follow the processes put in place to vet candidates — this was a full-fledged attack on every Black Woman in America.
“If we can get her to have an outburst like Kavanaugh, then everyone will see her as the angry Black Woman and will be deemed an unfit match for the Supreme Court.”
The attitude, tone, and sentiment of those questioning her were cringeworthy, to say the least — yet as a Black Woman, Ketanji Brown Jackson had to keep her composure or risk it all. Black Women watching across America felt the pain that we have had to face our entire lives.
The New York Times released an insightful opinion piece on the ripple effect of the hearing, “Every sigh, every time her jaw tightens, every time her eyebrow raises a certain way,” said Jazzi McGilbert, 33, the owner and founder of Reparations Club, a concept bookstore and creative space in Los Angeles. “Every Black woman speaks that language.”
Women of all professional backgrounds felt the pain and disgust Jackson so gracefully faced by the right.
“The way she was able to sit there, listen and be grilled, interrupted, over and over and over again on things that we know have no bearing on what Supreme Court justices do impressed me so much,” said Lynn Whitfield, 67, of West Palm Beach, Fla., who has been a lawyer for more than 40 years. “We all know that feeling of having to sit there with a smile on your face and be nice.”
For far too long, Black Women have been baited like animals into these traps. From the government to corporate America, Hollywood, the education system, and every industry alike, Black Women are always placed in a position where their worth, expertise, temperament, and emotions come into question. It is disgusting, disheartening, and a defeating feeling to say the least. We are Ketanji Brown Jackson, and she is us. We know the struggle, the pain, the tears, and the grit it takes to be an accomplished Black Woman, and even at the top, the attacks keep coming and only get stronger.
One can only hope that watching this confirmation hearing was a disturbing wake-up call for millions of Americans across the nation. The disgraceful charade of questioning only placed a spotlight on the hatred, racism, misogyny, and white-male dominance that tarnishes our most sacred establishments. As Black Women we cannot even imagine a society without this - because this is what we know, this is unfortunately what we are used to. Yet my hope is that we cling to one another, find unity in the face of adversity, and stand firm to take our rightful place in positions of power for the millions of little Black girls looking up to us to make the change.