As I watched the first few days of confirmation hearings for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who President Joe Biden nominated to the United States Supreme Court, I am reminded that even with impeccable credentials, Black women still face resistance. Brown Jackson has several clerkships, judicial appointments, and positions to envy under her belt. Her confirmation should be an open-and-shut case.
What is clear to me, however, is that although Black women are among the most educated and accomplished groups in the nation, our accomplishments do not always correlate to roles with significant decision-making authority. We also know that positions for which Brown Jackson is being considered do not come often for Black women; not because we lack credentials but because such positions are usually reserved for the privileged elite. Further, racism and sexism still prevent Black women from attaining that which is so easily granted to our counterparts. Yet we persist, knowing that our persistence clears the path for others who will come alongside or after us.
If history is to be trusted, we know Brown Jackson’s nomination hearings will be filled with incredulous attacks and unfair innuendo. The commentary around her sentencing of child predators is a proof point. Brown Jackson will also be questioned and held to account for things far outside of her control. For instance, she has been challenged by Sen. Lindsay Graham and Sen. Ted Cruz for what conservatives view as slights against jurists Amy Coney Barrett or Brett Kavanaugh, during their nomination hearings. We will hear about ‘de-legitimizing the judiciary,’ ‘activists judges,’ and a whole host of phrases that subtly suggest Brown Jackson, or any other candidate who disrupts the status quo, is unfit to serve on the Supreme Court.
In the face of such attacks, I hope Brown Jackson experiences steadfast support from the Biden administration, advocates for progress and from women from all walks of life. I also hope that educators across the country do more to ensure that Brown Jackson is not an anomaly, working harder to truly see and invest in Black girls and youth.
While the road will undoubtedly be difficult, I am confident that Brown Jackson’s accomplishments create hope for countless women and girls. I watch the hearings with pride, understanding that Brown Jackson has already broken barriers and shattered ceilings. That is to be celebrated and cherished.”