“I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust…We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.” — Supreme Court Justice, Thurgood Marshall
In the eighties, in addition to Dynasty, L.A. Law was one of my must-see television shows. I have seen A Few Good Men*, a ridiculous number of times (it’s on cable every few weeks ‘round midnight and I always watch). John Grisham, Stephen L. Carter and Scott Turow novels are among my favorite from lawyers-turned-authors. Who didn’t love Atticus Finch?
Hollywood law aside, at one point I wanted to attend law school and specialize in Constitutional Law. One of my first bucket list items was to argue a case before the United States Supreme Court. I would read transcripts of Court cases and listen to cassette tape! recordings of oral arguments on Sundays as I cleaned my apartment. (Yes, I AM fun at parties.)
Instead of taking the LSAT and applying to law schools after undergrad, I decided to take a gap year. I started University at 16 and by 20, I was fried and needed a break. One year turned into four and instead of going to law school, I got my paralegal certificate as a trial balloon, to see if I still wanted to go to law school. After three years working in Real Estate and Franchise law, there were lots of contracts, and while some of it was interesting, the lack of witty Aaron Sorkinesque repartee made me bounce.
After Justice Stephen Breyer announced his intent to retire and President Biden’s potential nominees were reported – the names showed that he was holding to a promise made to Representative Jim Clyburn to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court.
Instead of being excited by this news and the chance to witness history, I got a headache and an all too familiar sinking feeling in my spirit.
Instead of having the chance to solely celebrate an intelligent, qualified and beautiful Black person making history, I and many others would go into defense mode. Again.
We’ve been here, with cousins Michelle and Barack. Kamala. Young Black Lives Matter protestors. As a community, some of us choose to be in unspoken solidarity to first help defend their right to simply exist in the space they occupy. Then, we worry about their mental and physical safety while in that space. I mentally held my breath from November 2008 to January 2017. Learning that Vice President Harris was evacuated from DNC headquarters due to a pipe bomb on January 6, is unsettling.
Anybody can be questioned and critiqued – that’s not the issue. It’s the adding of the racism spice to the mix that flavors everything and makes it nasty. In Kamala’s case, it was a special two for one blend, of racism and misogyny (and sometimes the seasonings were coming from inside the house, which made it even more infuriating).
New York City elected a new Mayor in 2020. Maya Wiley was my first choice in our ranked voting in the Primary. If she had been elected, she would’ve made history as the first woman to hold the office. Even though I felt she was the best choice, a small part of me was relieved when she didn’t win. Governing New York City is a challenge in the best of times and we’re currently living the second part of Dickens famous opening sentence…Trying to recover from the economic impact of COVID? Fights with the police union, problems with the transit system, issues in the public school system, skyrocketing violent crime? Emotionally, I didn’t want the Sista (or me) to go through how she would be treated as she attempted to manage those issues — I’m tired.
Younger me would’ve taken vacation days to post up in front of the TV with snacks, watching Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation hearings. As a Black woman working in the corporate world for almost 30 years and being an American for almost 50, I have experienced many microaggressions. Has anybody else been given a “hip-hop nickname” in their forties by a manager or was it just me? I am really fucking tired and knew what was coming. Why would I want to see another Sista exposed to that treatment?
Since Justices Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg died, (or probably even before) insurrectionists have been plotting and insurrectionisting (allegedly close to home *coughMissGinnicough*) and this confirmation process has become an even bigger spectacle. Folks willingly let Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley raise their blood pressure for racist FOX News performance art ? No thanks. I wasn’t watching that. Grateful Senator Corey Booker was there to provide her support, he played his position to compensate for the insanity. There are probably Mitch McConnell shenanigans underway to prevent her confirmation, which would end up making what they put her through, a moot point. I saved myself the anger of watching it live.
Did you watch the confirmation hearings this week? What are your thoughts?
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* my newest favorite courtroom drama is The Trial of the Chicago 7 on Netflix. Highly recommend!
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