“Senator,” she said, letting out an audible sigh.
In that singular moment, Supreme Court nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson spoke for countless Black women who have had to gather all the patience, strength and grace within to answer insinuating questions about their credentials, qualifications and character.
It was Day One of questioning at the Senate Judiciary Committee as the Harvard-educated Jackson, the first Black woman to be nominated for the nation’s highest court, was making history.
The federal judge had to endure hours of public scrutiny from skeptics, namely the Republican senators who are erecting a wall of opposition to her landmark nomination, the first in the court’s 233-year history, and may vote en bloc against her confirmation.
“It was really traumatizing to watch,” said Melanie L. Campbell, president and CEO of the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation and convener of the Black Women’s Roundtable.
From questioning of Jackson’s view of books on critical race theory that drew her exasperated sigh — “They don’t come up in my work as a judge,” she said — to the loaded suggestion that the sentences she imposed on child pornography defendants were too lenient, the questions from the Republicans tapped into long-standing American grievances over race, class and public safety.