I said I wasn't going to watch.
I've had enough shitty interactions with petulant people who think I don't belong where I've gotten, or who've told me to sit down once I got there, such that I thought Nah, don't need those triggers.
I couldn't avoid it though. It was everywhere.
There were some very winning moments in the efforts to nominate and confirm Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court. Let's hear it for:
The Pause. Ted Cruz had just asked Judge Jackson, "Do you agree... that babies are racist?" (Cruz apparently believes that children's literature is a suitable topic on which to grill a distinguished judge, and he had spent the prior moment pointing out some props he'd made for the occasion: enlarged photos from Ibram X. Kendi's book, Antiracist Baby.) ...
Judge Jackson was silent for a beat or two longer than is conversational. The volume of thought behind her silence is beautifully described by Elie Mystal in The Nation. An excerpt:
Read Mystal's full piece here on the sexism and racism so blatantly deployed by some senators. As Mystal says, "[I]f you can’t see it, then you are useless in the fight to stop it."
The Gaze. The now-iconic photo by Sarabeth Maney of the judge's teenage daughter Leila looking over at her on the first day of the hearing has many moms saying this is "Mom Goals." To me, it's more than mother-daughter or parent-child. It's the physical manifestation of the oft-used phrase I See You. Read about why and how Maney captured that moment, here.
The Sisterhood. As armor and ballast in anticipation of the shit to come, Judge Jackson was introduced by Penn Law School Professor Lisa Fairfax, who is a dear friend of Judge Jackson’s from their time as Harvard undergrads, their years at Harvard Law School, and continuing to the present day as high-achieving professionals, mothers, and Black women in America. Black women were forwarding the video to each other as evidence of the power of our support for one another. You can watch Professor Fairfax's remarks here. (The man wiping away tears behind her is Judge Jackson’s husband.)
History Being Made. The junior senator from New Jersey, Cory Booker, who in his early years in the Senate seemed like the kid at the grown-up table, is rapidly becoming an elder statesman whose words are a symphony of mind, soul, and heart. "“And you did not get there because of some left-wing agenda,” Booker said. “You didn’t get here because of some ‘dark money’ groups. You got here how every Black woman in America who’s gotten anywhere has done. By being, like Ginger Rogers said, ‘I did everything Fred Astaire did, but backwards, in heels.’ And so I’m just sitting here saying nobody’s stealing my joy. Nobody is going to make me angry.”
Booker held space for Judge Jackson, and in so doing restored a sense of decency to the hearings, the chamber, the process, and even to America if only for a few moments. Read about his efforts here.
The Confirmation Strategy. Not sure how many folks noticed this one, but back on February 25, when Biden held a small ceremony to officially nominate Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court, he asked her husband to stand up and be recognized. This typically doesn't happen when a man with a wife is appointed to a thing, but it can and will happen when a woman with a husband is the nominee. But there's more to this particular instance of it, for Judge Jackson's husband, Dr. Patrick Graves Jackson, is a white male surgeon of elite "Boston Brahmin" provenance, no less. It makes me wonder, was this a calculated move on Biden's part? A way of saying to would-be detractors Look at this bona fide white man who has already found her to be more than enough. (I happen to know firsthand that white-adjacency helps us black and brown folk ascend in life; my white relatives have held doors open for me that I could not have walked through on my own.) White-adjacency does palletize us in the eyes of those who would think we are other/lesser without that white person by our side. So, what do you think? Was Biden's gesture a subtle but intentional way to help pave the way for his nominee’s success? Or was this just a kind thing for him to do (and I am reading way too much into it)?
America. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, eminently qualified to serve on the United States Supreme Court, will be confirmed no matter how many petulant Republicans try to make her the face of what they hate about America.
Black and brown girls everywhere see another glass ceiling shattered, another indication that the color of your skin will not prevent you from accessing opportunity.
If things go as we expect, America will have bent herself a little more toward equity and justice by ensuring not just that we have a terrific new jurist on our highest court, but that this court is in fact representative of the people of the land.
The Last Laugh. Ted Cruz was such a ridiculous jackasshole in the hearings that he managed to boost sales of Ibram X. Kendi's Antiracist Baby to the number one spot on Amazon's best seller list.
Overcoming the Odds. As it happens, Judge Jackson and Ted Cruz attended Harvard Law School in overlapping years, and I happened to be there at the same time. (I did not know either of them.)
Judge Jackson's appointment has forced me to reflect on why I decided to go to law school in the first place – which was to serve marginalized people and communities – and to reflect on my loftiest dream in those years, which was to one day serve on the Supreme Court. These past couple of weeks I've further reflected on my time as a law student, which was largely alienating, and on my years as a lawyer, and what I chose to practice, and why I ultimately decided after four years that law was not the right path for me. These are tough memories to summon.
All the more reason for me to hold the woman formerly known as Ketanji Brown in highest esteem, for persisting against all that was in her way over all of these decades. As she has put it, “I cannot recall a single time in my childhood in which I cared about the slights and misperceptions and underestimations that came my way. What I do remember is often thinking, ‘Hmm. Well, I’ll show them.’” She urges, "“So what does it take to rise through the ranks despite those who don’t think you have it in you, and will remind you of their feelings at every turn? It demands that you tune out those voices, block out their little flags and ignore the haters, rather than indulging them.”
And all I can say to that is, GO ON SISTER, AMEN. 🙏🏽
What did you notice, like, or not like about this confirmation process? And at twenty-two years of age, what did you think you might have been and how does that compare to what you're doing now? Light up the comments below or call it into my hotline (1-877-HI-JULIE).
🇺🇸 The bald eagle I chose for the cover photo of this piece seems to understand all of this.
🏚You've been in Julie's Pod, an online community for folks who know that by opening up and getting vulnerable we grow and help others do the same. You can subscribe here. (It's free. Subscribing just means that you'll get me in your inbox so you don't have to go searching for whatever I said next.) If you want to share this with a friend, please do.
🤪 Ted Cruz is a laughingstock. But he’s also pretty conniving. As Senate Judiciary Committee Chairperson Dick Durbin intimated, Cruz pulls these shenanigans just to get on TV. I keep wondering why Trump lets Cruz off the hook (unlike Barack Obama, Ted Cruz was NOT born in the United States, he was born in Canada). Where’s the birther movement when you need it.
📝 If you left a comment on any post before today, here or on social media, I've probably responded, and I always appreciate what you have to say even if I may feel differently. Please feel welcome to join the conversation. I want you to.
☎️ For those who can't comment publicly, I've set up the hotline 1-877-HI-JULIE where you can leave an anonymous voicemail to let me know what's on your mind. I summarize and respond to these calls most Mondays live on my Facebook page at noon Pacific Time (while keeping the caller's identity private).
📣 If you're just in need of a little warm tender love I highly encourage you to to call 707-998-8410 to listen to recorded pep talks from 5-12 year olds attending West Side School in Healdsburg, CA. There's a menu of options, but pressing "2" just might make you cry (in a good way).
👋🏽 If you're interested in learning more about me and my work, please follow me @jlythcotthaims on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or TikTok and check out my website.
🎁 If you've read this far, you are definitely entitled to a free "Julie's Pod" sticker for your laptop, phone, or water bottle courtesy of me and the U.S. Postal Service. Just DM me your snail mail address (or if you don't know how to DM a person, just email email@example.com). I promise to toss your snail mail address in the trash as soon as I pop the sticker in the mail to you!
📸 Cover Photo Credit: Getty Images/David Díez Barrio/Moment
@ 2022 Love Over Time LLC All Rights Reserved