One More Day, Keep on Shining

I hope that Judge Sotomayor is everything we hope she is: a wise Latina womyn who will make wise, legal, equitable, empathic decisions on a court lacking all of the above. But we don’t know for sure, do we? All we can watch is the embarassingly sexist and racist media coverage, which seems sure that because Sonia Sotomayor is Puerto Rican, she will be race biased in her decisions. As evidenced by her statement about “wise Latina judges.” The assertion that Sotomayor would discriminate, when every bit of evidence shows that would not be, is similar to pre-Civil War and Civil Rights’ apologists assertions that enslaved African-Americans had to be freed slowly, otherwise they would rise up and massacre white people. A dear family friend is fond of saying, “evil people think evil things.” Now, let me be clear, I am not calling white people evil. So just stop right there. But I am suggesting that once one has gotten accustomed to oppressive behavior, whether one is male, white, wealthy, or in any situation where society gives your group power out of proportion to the actual demographic of the population, and you’ve been able to exercise that power with impunity, it can be quite hard to believe that when the tables are turned the ones you’ve oppressed, won’t resort to punishing those who used to have power. In other words, white male Senators who’ve interogated and been appallingly rude to Judge Sotomayor, are having a bit of crisis – and at the center of that crisis is a question: will they do to us what we have done to them? Will they use their power in the same ways we have used ours? And its unimaginable that people of color, womyn, LGBT, the poor, differently abled people, would act for the interests of everyone – in other words, that with power oppressed people would walk the higher ground of public good and equity, as opposed to following the self-serving model of our founders and the traditionally white and male leaders that have had power in this nation.
“every major United States media outlet has, in one way or another, reported on Republican (and other) fears of Supreme Court justice nominee Sonia Sotomayor’s potential for “racial bias,” given her Puerto Rican ethnicity and her now infamous comments about a “wise Latina” making better choices than a “white man.” ….That Sotomayor might harbor some bias based upon her Puerto Rican-ness is not an unreasonable thought; we all harbor some biases based upon our backgrounds – it is just that certain people’s biases get to be called “truth” while others’ get to be called “militancy”.”
U.S. Supreme Court Justice nominee and U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit Judge Sonia Sotomayor meets with White House counsels at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building of the White House June 1, 2009 in Washington, DC. Judge Sotomayor has been meeting with White House staff members since U.S. President Barack Obama announced her nomination to the Supreme Court on May 26.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Sonia SotomayorWhile I don’t agreee with all of Valdes-Rodriguez’s argument – particularly how she takes pains to note that Puerto Rico isn’t as Black as say Haiti or Jamaica (leaving out Cuba- a sublte anti-Black aside), I do think its helpful that she calls out the media for really lacking a nuanced discussion of race and identity – and for pointing out that many of our “leader,” who happen to be white, also happen to seem quite frightened when not engaging with people who don’t share their backgrounds. Instead of being afraid, maybe they should befriend some people of color and they can learn helpful tips from us: code-switching, even-ness, and professionalism in the face of crazy. I also appreciate that she points out who’s background gets labeled normative and who’s background is labeled radical.
The fact is that Judge Sonia Sotomayor is extremely qualified for the role of Supreme Court judge. She is a phenomenal judge who has achieved a great deal.
I am embarassed by and for the Senate.  The lack of professionalism, the paternalistic phrasing and delivery of questions (who cares if you like her, should she jump with glee?), the baiting and switching. If there was any question about why more people of color don’t serve in government or in the higher echelons of the corporate world. It takes an amazingly strong spirit to put up with this kind of nonsense and undignified treatment. Mike Madden in a pleasantly blunt and real article discussed the behavior of Senators for Salon in “When Old White Guys Attack.” I’ve also been reading over at the Uppity Negro blog’s post about Sonia Sotomayor.

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