Twice as Good
Seeing the highlight clips of the Ketanji Brown Jackson Confirmation Hearings morph into full blown defamation and attacks from pundits on the right made me wonder if indeed, Judge Jackson was singled out. This was, of course, due to the popular assertion that “we” think everything revolves around race. The “we” happens to be any Black or Brown person that made a statement about the fact that much of the questioning bore little resemblance to that of previous nominees. Do “we” still think that this hearing showed that we have to be twice as good to get half as much, like our grandparents taught us? I know it made me think so, and it was uncomfortable to watch. Unless Judge Brown was running for school board, or unless she had passed some ruling or sentencing protocol down on the use of Antiracist Baby–which was also sorely misrepresented–this was at best a political stunt, at worst, slanderous denigration.
Girls Are People Too
Sadly, this lack of respect for the record and qualifications has also been overlooked before. Think Amy Coney Barrett. Ted Cruz asked her about piano lessons and distance learning for her 7 children. While not as glaringly antagonistic—nor as dangerous—as his line of questioning with Judge Jackson, the subtle mommy track questions were just as insulting. In both lines of questions, the nominee was little more than a trope, a 2- dimensional caricature. Neither woman was considered worthy of questions befitting accomplished legal scholars.
Who Are ‘Those People’?
Why is this type of thinking dangerous and how does this apply to you? In your mind’s eye, when you see your students and staff, how many of them are archetypes? Do you see the ‘coach’ the ‘theater teacher’ or the ‘TA’ as representations of ‘their kind’? How about your students. Do you see the emo kid and the SPED kid as monolithic representations? Chances are, in some cases, that you do. Knowing that is half the battle.
How can you better connect with students whose characterizations you need to round out? Whether it’s having a lunch date or making it a point to listen better, recognizing that no-one is just one thing can help you avoid pigeonholing your students in the way that Ted Cruz pigeonholed the SCOTUS nominees. #RelationshipsMatter