If the Black woman’s experience in America were to be made into a movie it would probably fall into the category of a horror film. Some may even argue that it would be a War movie. Her real story will never be told. It is true. The most beautiful women in the world are the most disrespected and unprotected. So when any Black woman reaches the pentacle of success in her chosen field no one has the right to celebrate more than Black women.
Ketanji Brown Jackson’s confirmation as America’s next Supreme Court Justice has provided some much needed inspiration at a very critical hour. Her appointment has inspired many young Black women and girls toward new levels of Black excellence. To the degree that this sends the message that Black women and girls do not have to be objectified, oversexualized, naked and exploited to be successful, I support it. The Black woman’s most powerful asset has always been, and always will be her mind.
“We’ve made it!” These were the words that the brilliant Harvard scholar spoke while standing alongside President Joe Biden at her swearing-in ceremony. These three words are very dangerous when spoken to a people who too-often use symbolism as a drug. We got high when we saw the first Black president walk into the White House. We got high when we saw the first Black woman step into the vice presidency. We get high every time a Fortune 500 company decides to name its “first Black CEO.” Every addict has a drug of choice. Unfortunately, ours are symbols that are made to look like substance. Meanwhile, the condition of the hood worsens by the tick-tock of the clock.
Part of the problem is that Black America has a tendency to celebrate individual achievement as if though it represents collective achievement. More powerful communities celebrate collective achievement like individual achievements. We have to think more along these lines. I am in no way minimizing Judge Jackson’s moment. But let’s be real. More Black faces in White spaces have not improved the condition of the masses of our people in this nation. The day after Judge Jackson was sworn in, America’s courts and prisons were still disproportionately filled with Black defendants. Having a Black woman serve as a Supreme Court Justice makes America’s system look more like justice, while still operating like a well-oiled White Supremacist machine. Can she make a difference? That remains to be seen. It’s too soon to celebrate.
The Democratic party knows how much Black voters love symbolic victories. When a baby screams, if its mother is not ready for the baby to eat, she gives him a pacifier. Symbolic victories are pacifiers. Black America, it’s time to eat! Black voters have been extremely disappointed in President Biden. Do not let him off of the hook! The appointment of a Black woman to a conservative majority supreme court does not make up for his arrogant dismissive failure to seriously acknowledge the issue of reparations. The narrative of Judge Jackson’s appointment will be pimped out ad nauseam to make it appear that the Biden administration has been loyal to Black people while the government continues to give Black people crumbs from the table that our ancestors built. The table is America.
I am happy for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, but I refuse to fall for the same ole’ “tricknology.” The Honorable Elijah Muhammad said “no individual can ever rise above the condition of his for her people.” If you study the way Judge Jackson was treated during her confirmation hearings you get a picture of how Black people are treated in this country every day. The hostile opposition she received is indicative of what we face daily. Until that changes; we have not made it.
The racial wealth gap has been growing for 30 years. Until the average wealth of White households are no longer 6 or 7 times the average wealth of Black households, we have not made it. Until Black people no longer make up 40% of America’s prison inmate population, we have not made it. Until we are no longer being killed by police at a higher rate than any other group, we have not made it. Until we recognize that symbolic victories don’t lead to substantive change for the masses of our people, we have not made it.