Thursday, May 28, 2009

"Racist" is a Dialog Killer

Having recently been referred to as a racist, I am acutely aware what a bomb that is to reasonable conversation not to mention sane human interaction. It is especially galling when one has spent the better part of one's life working to disassemble the products of racism.

So how sad must it make Judge Sotomajor that the Republican money machine has chosen to label her racist as a means to raise fear and cash from the base that they have left.

This is the quote they are basing their claim of her racism:
"...I would hope that as a wise Latina Woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male that hasn't lived that life.

What they are ignoring and even suppressing is the whole of the quote and the context in which it was made. Thus it has become a lie of ommision.

It was from a speech given at a conference discussing minorities and women in the law profession in 2001. The title was: "A Latina Judge's Voice"

The whole speech was about what ethnicity, race, or gender brought to the practice of law.

Here is the quote within the context of the speech:

"Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society."

Racist? Hum, well how about her conclusion of the speech in which she explored all these ramifications?

"Each day on the bench I learn something new about the judicial process and about being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion. I am reminded each day that I render decisions that affect people concretely and that I owe them constant and complete vigilance in checking my assumptions, presumptions and perspectives and ensuring that to the extent that my limited abilities and capabilities permit me, that I reevaluate them and change as circumstances and cases before me requires. I can and do aspire to be greater than the sum total of my experiences but I accept my limitations. I willingly accept that we who judge must not deny the differences resulting from experience and heritage but attempt, as the Supreme Court suggests, continuously to judge when those opinions, sympathies and prejudices are appropriate."


Those who call her a racist would do well to look into their own hearts, or maybe they have.

Read the whole speech at:


Feodor said...

Clay Johnson III, chief of staff in Bush's Governor's office, in charge of presidential personnel during Bush's first term as President, was reported by CNN - citing high level Senior White House officials - to be Bush's first choice to replace Chertoff at Homeland Security when Chertoff was the preferred choice to replace Gonzales at Justice.

This Clay Johnson had previously been President of Horchow Mail Order, Neiman Marcus Mail Order, the Chief Operating Officer of the Dallas Museum of Art, and held positions at Frito-Lay and Wilson Sporting Goods.

This Clay Johnson was introduced to Eric Motley, then a 27 year old black man from Alabama who had been abandoned by his mother, raised by his grandparents, avoided sports for scholasticism and by his own account became more at home in the white world of Alabama than the black world.

Johnson hired him to be his deputy and Motely became the youngest appointee of the Bush Administration. By 2006 he was in the State Department.

When interviewed for a Washington Post article about this young black Republican, Johnson said the following:

"When you first meet Eric, his skin color, it's black. He does not dress black, and his accent is not black. He's black, but he's been raised by blacks and whites. I think by the way he looks at the world, he feels colorless."


While many white people, perhaps most but barely so, understand that Mr. Johnson has spoken absurd, silly words, I think a small percentage of these understand why his words are absurd. I think still fewer understand that his words are actually horrific, and far fewer even of this remnant understand that his words are horrific not because of their reference to a black man or black people generally. A tiny portion of white people understand that Johnson's words are a condemnation of white identity, a sign, a symptom of a dangerous vacuum in white self-understanding.

I think many white people understand in some vague way that Sotomayor is right, but don't fully understand why.

The crux of her point is drawn from this easily escapable phrase: "being a professional Latina woman in a world that sometimes looks at me with suspicion."

It's the innumerable Clay Johnsons of the world, and the rest of us who don't quite get to the core of how hegemonic whiteness frames our myopic vision and the systemic behaviors of our body politic, that contribute to making the experience of minorities a potentially nobler moral wellspring of reflection.

And the white folks who poured over these issues just three and four decades ago are retired or dead, or in the last two years of their service on the Supreme Court.

Feodor said...

Give me hope, DrLBJ.

This appropriate celebration of Obama, daily turned into a fetish, is not enough.

MLK was not enough. Malcolm, John L. Lewis, Moynihan,LBJ, Barbara Jordan, Fullbright, Morris Dees, Heschel, Clintons, Vernon Jordan, Bill Bradley, Edelman, Rustin, Bob Moses, Thurgood, Brennan, Black, Douglas, Warren, Burger...

... not enough.

Give me hope, DrLBJ.

drlobojo said...

"Give me hope, DrLBJ."

I'm probably the wrong guy to ask for hope on this subject. I spent 27+ years removing the "vestiges of dualism" from the laws, policies, and visible behavior of the Oklahoma Higher Education System. I was responsible for "deinstitutionalizing" the segregation within the System. I watched the System go from one black professor at the traditionally white institutions to several hundred. I watched the minority student population rise to almost parity with their high school graduation rates. Yes, the System is better. The Racial groups involved are better off, including the Whites for the level of integration. Still... why don't I feel right about it?

Probably because I expected too much from the results. Put my faith in the goodness of human beings and found that even good human beings can act like shitheads regardless of race, sex, gender, religion, or ethnic origins.

The two most effective elements to the attainment of equity and parity in, among, and between races are demographics and institutionalization. Both are well on their way in the United States.

But like the Oklahoma Philosopher, Roger Miller, said" The pendulum swing like the pendulum do..." It has swung way too far to the right since 1968 and now we will have another 30 to 40 years of the pendulums return swing. The coming years will seem like many of the goods and rights and the dreams are happening and they will be. But they won't last.

That's what make the Kingdom of Heaven perhaps the beat long term investment.

As for "great men" or "great women" I have come to believe they are more of an effect that a cause.

Robert Frost said..."It is hard to keep from being King,
When it is in you and in the situation."

Without the correct situation however no one can manage to be King.

Good luck to the current administration, they are going to need it. May God protect them.

"Put not your trust in princes, in the son(s) of man in whom there is no hope (Psalm 146:3).

Feodor said...

The pendulum swings but it has a guillotine edge to it, and a market economy for the severed minds and bodies of the poor.

If "great ones" are an effect, we seem to have been waiting a while now for a new cause.

drlobojo said...

"If "great ones" are an effect, we seem to have been waiting a while now for a new cause."

"Great Ones" are indeed an effect but one that adds to the new turning.

"Waiting for a while.." yes we have. It is kinda like the frog in the hot water syndrom. Throw a frog into hot water and he jumps right out. Put him cold water and turn up the heat slowly and he will boil to death.

GWB (also an effect) took the temperature up to around 211 degrees.

Feodor said...

I think "great ones" are rather the cause of the Cause. We must be inspired and led. Then people become the Cause of the effects in time and history.

Without Lincoln, we would have waited upon another. Without King, we would have waited upon another. Without Ghandi, India would have had to wait for another.

But without the college and high school students, without the clergy and the parents, and the carpooling, Montgomery would not have given us King. They followed him, and then discovered their power.

And on great ones, I will also say -- contra the popular view in these circles of my arrogance -- they tend to come not from the centers of power and attention. Except for FDR and Gautama Buddha, I can't think of one.

drlobojo said...

So we are in a horse and cart discussion:

Just for the record the group that "made" MLK was Phillip Randolph's Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters. During the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott they needed a church in which to meet and organize. Most of the Black churches were afraid to let them use their facilities. They ask King if they could use his and he reluctantly did so. Additionally Randolph was the one who organized the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, and it was Randolph who invited Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to deliver the keynote.
More importantly the Pullman Car Porters and their Brotherhood were the core of the Black middle-class across America in the 40's,50's, and 60's. No one was "waiting" on MLK to lead them he got a train already in motion.

That takes nothing away from MLK, but the strength of the situation gave him the platform on which to become great.
MLK reached so high because he stood on the shoulders of thousands of Black guy's (all named George) who worked for Mr. Pullman.

It is interesting that after the fact, and looking back into the glare of a hero, we seldom can see the series of events that let the great men be great.

Now don't make me start explaining how it was really geography that did it all!

Feodor said...

Geography. Oh, God.

Randolph was effectively pushed aside by the actual planning of Bayard Rustin.

drlobojo said...

"Randolph was effectively pushed aside by the actual planning of Bayard Rustin."

Aren't we all sooner or latter?

Feodor said...

We're all pushed aside because we're bared'n' rustin'.

drlobojo said...

Evolution requires three things to work: Change, Death, and Sex.

"Pushed aside" contains all three.