I was buried in work on April 7, but I was flooded with texts and emails about the news:
Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed by the Senate as a Supreme Court Justice.
I did not watch it on television, and I did not have time to study and read about the details. Yet only one word popped into my head, Finally.
Finally recognizing that African-American women are qualified for the same positions that whites are qualified for. Finally recognizing that our thought-processes, skills and abilities not only makes up who we are but is also a value to our society.
I reflect back to growing up during the Civil Rights Era, and having a mom who was a school teacher and a father who was a businessman always encouraging me to accelerate at all costs. They instilled in me to know there was nothing I couldn't do, be proud of who I am, and recognize that I was as good as the rest of them. That was how I grew up.
But my network of influence was coming from a similar Black and brown culture as my own. I went to a private, college-prep school with a small setting. The majority of my classmates had parents who were professors, doctors and lawyers. When you're in that kind of environment, you can thrive. My mental model was challenged when I came to Minnesota. I came here feeling great about who I was as a person growing up in Louisiana. However, after settling in Minnesota and attending graduate school, I felt invisible, as if I had no value, and nothing to give.
So to think about what Ketanji Brown Jackson went through growing up, as well as getting to where she is today, I can't imagine all that she had to go through.
But what I know is this: She had grit. She had to have grit to even go through that whole process. From the negative comments to the absurd questions, she weathered it all.
But her being confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice in the United States of America is a huge deal!
Now, will it change the judicial system? I don't know. But what I do know is that there is someone in that room who has a different lens and set of eyes to put on the cases presented before them so that people will be challenged in a different way. And that to me is key. That's what she brings.
Just being at the table, and having a voice and a vote. Mental models can shift, when one person can bring a whole different way of thinking about a situation that, typically, is different than others. People sitting in the same room and hearing the same information including the same facts can interpret the information differently based on their individual mental models. Most of the time, your mental models are influenced by your experiences.
Historically, many Black women were domestic in this country. So it prompts one final question in my mind: What does this say — Ketanji Brown Jackson’s appointment as a Supreme Court Justice — about the state of the United States of America?