WASHINGTON, DC – APRIL 28: Ketanji Brown Jackson, nominated to be a U.S. Circuit Judge for the District of Columbia Circuit, testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on pending judicial nominations on Capitol Hill, April 28, 2021 in Washington, DC. The committee is holding the hearing on pending judicial nominations. (Photo by Kevin Lamarque-Pool/Getty Images)
By Michael Coard
Although that headline above might seem like hyperbole, there’s actually some solid merit to it if you consider the following irrefutable fact: Black women were and are the most disrespected and oppressed group in America.
The disrespect and oppression of Black women on this land began 403 years ago on Aug. 25, 1619, when the first documented enslaved Africans arrived in British colonial America following European raids in southern Africa.
It was shortly before that date when those Europeans had invaded the village of Ndongo in Luanda, Angola and loaded 350 of the Kimbundu-speaking human beings aboard a Portuguese “slave” ship.
After nearly two months of being transported on the Atlantic Ocean, about 30 of those 350 arrived in the Virginia Colony where they were traded, sold, and forced to labor at plantations along the nearby James River in what would become Charles City.
But many of the women and girls in that group of about 30 and among the approximately 20 million Black persons held in bondage in America from 1619 to 1865 weren’t merely enslaved. They also were raped, sodomized, sexually assaulted, and sexually harassed. They were victims of brutal racism and brutal misogyny.
In fact, there was a South Carolina law (similar to many southern state laws) that said a Black woman rape victim could not have her rapist arrested. She wasn’t even allowed to sue him in civil court. However, her so-called master was legally permitted to sue the rapist for damage to his property- which was legally defined as her body. Think about that for a second.
If America is viewed as a pyramid, white men are at the top. And that’s not based on merit. It’s based on patriarchal white “supremacy” (better known as patriarchal white “savagery”). White men have violently and maliciously taken control of everything. Then they gave the leftovers to white women. And a few crumbs were left for Black men — with nearly nothing for Black women.
Since white men are the disease of America in terms of racism, misogyny, homophobia, Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, and classism, the polar opposite is obviously the cure. And what’s the polar opposite of the white man? You guessed it: the Black woman.
That is exactly why I say, in regard to the judicial system for example, all judges should be Black women. They, generally speaking, have the intellect, the scholarship, the disposition, and the demeanor — and especially the societal and cultural experience to serve as the best legal arbiters of racial, gender, sexual preference, religious, and economic disputes.
And that is exactly why I say Ketanji Brown Jackson is proof that all judges should be Black women. I have hundreds of examples to support that position. But I only have space here for the following 15:
- She is a direct cultural descendant of the following Black women lawyers: Charlotte E. Ray- the first Black woman lawyer, Sadie Tanner Mossell Alexander — the first Black woman to graduate from the University of Penn Law School and the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in economics, Jane Bolin — the first Black woman to graduate from Yale Law School, Constance Baker Motley — the first woman attorney for the NAACP (and she won nine of 10 cases in the U..S. Supreme Court), Mahala Ashley Dickerson — the first Black woman elected president of the National Association of Women Lawyers, Barbara Jordan — the first Southern Black woman elected to the U.S. Congress, and Mary Ann Shadd Cary — the first Black woman to become a newspaper editor and the second to earn a law degree.
- She was supervising editor of the Harvard Law Review and graduated from Harvard with top academic honors.
- Her name, “Ketanji Onyika,” is West African and means “Lovely One.”
- Her parents, Johnny Brown and Ellery Brown, are HBCU graduates.
- As a student at Harvard, she helped lead the activism to remove the Confederate flag from campus.
- She received a prestigious U.S. District Court clerkship, Circuit Court clerkship, and Supreme Court clerkship.
- She worked as a public defender.
- While serving as vice chair on the U.S. Sentencing Commission, she lead the efforts to reduce racist drug sentencing disparities.
- As a U.S. District Court judge, she stopped the Trump administration from illegally deporting allegedly undocumented immigrants.
- Also, she ruled that a Trump aide did not have immunity in regard to Russian interference with American elections.
- She has served as both a U.S. District Court judge and a Circuit Court of Appeals judge.
- She is endorsed for the Supreme Court by 100 Black male law school deans and 83 former state attorneys general.
- In the American Bar Association’s endorsement, she received its highest rating.
- She’s Black.
- She’s a Black woman
I rest my case.
Opinion contributor Michael Coard, an attorney and radio host, is a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune, where this column first appeared. His work appears on Tuesdays on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page.
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