By Cheryl Smith, Publisher, Texas Metro News and iMessenger Media
Sorry, “Ms. Jackson.” Those words ring in my ears to the tune of the same song by hip-hop’s legendary OutKast.
Yes, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson is owed an apology for the treatment she received during her recent Senate confirmation hearings.
I won’t hold my breath, though.
While many social media posters questioned the messages that our children would glean from “the slap heard around the world” at the 2022 Academy Awards, I wondered what take-aways our children would glean from the awful “verbal slaps” of disrespect and mid-sentence cutoffs lodged against the brilliant jurist, Ms. Jackson.
These jabs appeared OK to many.
However, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ), former mayor of Newark, my birth city, didn’t have time for foolishness.
He eloquently – and respectfully addressed Judge Jackson, affirming her skills and abilities and, by extension, those of so many other accomplished women.
I call it his finest moment. I wonder what future generations will say when they look back at these “slaps?”
Decades from now, my descendants will read my thoughts and feelings during the historic vote to confirm Judge Jackson to the Supreme Court.
My heart raced at a faster pace than usual.
Which brings me to my truth.
Part of me wants to go into a secluded, dark room — away from everyone — where I can release every emotion imaginable.
Poet extraordinaire Nikki Giovanni encourages this practice. I find it helpful for my balancing act and emotional stability.
Tears, laughter, silence, screams, prayers! I would let it all out!
At some point, I would probably dance.
I would be cheering for Judge Jackson, this country’s first Black woman to serve as a United States Supreme Court judge.
I would reserve some moments of elation for pioneering activist Constance Baker Motley; economist and attorney Sadie T.M. Alexander; trailblazing attorney Charlotte E. Ray; Judge Jane Bolin, the first Black woman to graduate from Yale Law School and the first to become a judge in the United States, and too many others to mention in this space.
The Constitution does not require Supreme Court Justices to be lawyers or have attended law school. So, I can’t help but question whether some Black women, including U.S. Rep. Barbara Jordan of Texas; journalist Ida B. Wells Barnett; educator, activist and philanthropist Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune; and civil rights activist Dr. Dorothy Irene Height all might have received the nod. That is had it not been for the racial norms of their day.
There are many others who have come before us who were eminently qualified but denied opportunity.
It’s important to pay homage to Black women who were refused the privilege of serving at higher capacities, including legal scholar Lani Guinier and professor and attorney Cheryl Wattley.
I applaud efforts like “Because of Them We Can,” a digital space which Eunice Jones Gibson devotes to teaching and refreshing “Black history while connecting the dots between the past, present and future.”
Because of Them We Can features “sheroes” like Judge Jackson. It serves as a reminder that we have so much to be proud of.
I absolutely love that Judge Jackson publicly acknowledges the giants on whose shoulders she stands.
Future generations, I believe, will view her with pride: She will serve as a role model to many.
I know the work is not over. We must continue urging people to VOTE.
On April 7, 2022, I needed a little time for “me.” I needed to absorb the moment.
I am, like philosopher, scholar and humanitarian Pastor Frederick D. Haynes III says, “feeling peacock proud and hyena happy!”