Mikki Kendall wrote an excellent piece at Time Magazine on Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Confirmation Hearings. She clarifies the GOP’s actions towards soon-to-be Associate Justice Jackson, rooting them in American history and culture. Yet, most critically, she centers what Jackson is likely feeling:
I know that Jackson cannot express her frustrations outwardly. She’s going to be expected to eat this indignity with a smile and never speak of it publicly after her confirmation. She knows, as does any Black woman in America, that if she gets upset, displays anger, or reacts with outrage, she will be immediately labeled an Angry Black Woman and all her credentials and hard work will not matter.
The hearings made plain that what so many of us already know — that even the politicians who are supposed to represent everyone have been conditioned to expect Black women to be less than them. In this way, they are like many Americans. They expect Black women to work hard, but not be too successful, or to acknowledge the obstacles they’ve overcome in their pursuit of success.[…]
Black women in American society are effectively expected to fill two roles at work, the one they were hired to do and another role of making their coworkers comfortable at their own expense.
Think about that phrase: “any Black woman in America”. The statement in that phrase, that what we saw in Jackson’s hearings, was far from unique.
Kendall is saying (in my reading) that Jackson’s poise in those hearings wasn’t simply in her prep, as good as I’m sure it was. That said poise also comes from decades of being both Black, and a Woman, in this land. The good and ill that such a lived experience prepares you for. That’s an experience that we oft-stereotype, but rarely see spoken to in its fullness and richness.
And it’s a poise that is both hard-earned, and worthy of centering the discussion around. It is part of why we Democrats say she deserves her seat, right?
Centering her abilities in our discussions and debates, and acknowledging (without downplaying) the genuine emotional challenges she no-doubt went thru, helps. If nothing else, it reminds those who felt for her most strongly, seeing her experiences reflected in their lives, that they are Not Alone. That the other people who are part of this Party, and movements, see their responses, and respect them.
Respect goes a long way in bonding together movements. I respect you all enough to speak my truth, and I hope what I’m saying makes sense.
If you’re still struggling to understand what all this means, this piece on the Today Show’s site might help. From the very end of that piece:
Oftentimes, Black women feel or assume we have to change who we are to meet the standards of what America believes the norm is. Ketanji is wearing her beautiful locks — the same hair that brought about stigmatization on African Americans (and) the same hair that has stopped us from getting jobs.
Supporting Ketanji Brown Jackson, Black Women, and all other people who have to suppress their full slate of emotions just to get visibility? Much less a slice of equality?
That is why I’m Proud to be a Democrat.
Thank you for reading, and having patience with my words.