By Dr. Brenda Wall
The glass ceiling was still intact, but it went sideways at the Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
On one side sat a new, emerging symbol for justice in the land. It was a new look. Not blind, that hadn’t worked, but she was female and she was Black, this time with glasses to get a better look at judgment.
She was of the generation who had paid dues and she described such an incident on Harvard yard, where the challenges seemed over-whelming for a sheltered college freshman from the South. The perseverance she would practice brought her to this pinnacle of jurisprudence. The ancestors smiled on her and her parents lived to see the day that they dared hope was being realized in their life time. Their genes.
There she was: the little girl morphed into the fully grown woman, who still loved her braids, into the genius that was always evident and into service to the law that presumed innocence until proven otherwise. This was normal for all of them, who sat with her. But everything on this side of the fallen glass was anathema and frightening to the other side.
She married audaciously; she mothered deliberately and she worked assiduously. The unfairness she was always up against was represented on the other side of the sideways ceiling. The ugly, hateful, evil, ubiquitous, injustice was crumbling.
Yet, its death knell was stub- bornly delayed. The ghostly remnant of supremacist control was resistant and loud.
It was the other side of the ceiling where the false, feigned form of justice brought charts and insults. In this moment, the hate was becoming impotent. Was it always that weak? In fact, this thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies moment was not the expected meal. This time the table was set with microphones and water.
Microphones so everybody could hear what justice sounds like, what justice goes through. There was also some water flowing forth like that mighty stream.
The division remained between the just and those who practiced control. The sideways ceiling was protective of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson.
It was not quite shattered but flipped on its side by a brilliant, determined jurist who was a threat to the framework of supremacy and racism that was desperate to retain control.
Republicans dealing in the tropes and fears which anchored their identities and work could be understood in a toxic perversion to keep fear alive. In their frantic desperation to thwart Judge Jackson’s appointment to the highest court in the land, they were powerless.
She was not.
It was a visible separation of the righteous from the pseudo righteous. It was a reckoning of sort. Do you agree…that babies are racist? Clinging to the rhetoric and documenting the shifting sands of frustration. On a scale from one to t10, how faithful would you say you are, in terms of religion? You can see it if you know where to look. Faith without works is dead.
This moment in history is significant. It was 31 years ago when now sitting Justice Clarence Thomas sat in controversy in his Supreme Court hearings amidst the allegations of sexual harassment from Anita Hill.
Although he declared his hearing a high-tech lynching, the scrutiny he experienced under Committee Chair Joe Biden was not without plausible allegation. Thomas and his wife Ginni have had to live with the indelible stain, which was a price neither may have been able to shoulder without wilting.
The contrast with the impeccable character and unassailable credentials of Judge Jackson including more than 10 years on the bench, more judicial experience than most in her historical precedent and three successful Senate approved appointments, bode well for the first African American woman nominated to the Supreme Court.
The nation may not deserve it, but the egregious scrutiny of her hearings indicates how much the country needs such temperament, strength and wisdom.
Dr. Brenda Wall leads Reclaiming Mental Health for Women and Families at Friendship West Baptist Church, which is open to residents of the city of Dallas. Applications available!