In a photo captured by Sarahbeth Maney, we see Justice Jackson’s daughter, Leila, looking at her mother with the resilience, the pride, and the joy that young Black women from across the nation exuded toward the television screen. Today, the United States Senate has voted in favor of confirming Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as an Associate Justice to the Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to serve in the position. With this monumental moment, we take another leap toward a court that, as President Joe Biden described it, “reflects the full talents and greatness of our nation with a nominee of extraordinary qualifications.” We must view this confirmation not as a finished fight but as a victory on the road to a more equitable future.
Jackson’s confirmation, as seen by viewers across the United States, exhibited the need for increased diversity in our Supreme Court. Rather than asking questions regarding her qualifications or law experience, legislators interrogated her for her personal beliefs, many pertaining to women’s issues and Critical Race Theory, despite the lack of connection to her abilities as a judge. This confirmation hearing compared to that of other justices was an unacceptable scrutinization of Justice Jackson’s identity rather than her competency. Although the Harvard graduate professionally answered each question despite interruptions and outburst, such behavior from congressmen and women is intolerable.
Despite the blatant attempts to disparage her qualifications, Justice Jackson emphasized in her speech to Congress and throughout the hearings the importance of diversity in all institutions. In Our Turn’s Truth(Ed) campaign, we power our advocacy with truthful textbooks and lessons that celebrate each student in the classroom. It is our belief that diversity anywhere drives the force for diversity everywhere. As we see the amount of people moved by this confirmation, the power of representation in education is amplified. From the ability to hold progressive discourse regarding race to the empowerment of students of color to fill leadership roles, the need for visibility is emphasized by Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson’s position.
We cannot accept this as a final resolution. We must continue to work toward a tomorrow in which barriers confining spaces of power no longer prevent mobility. We must create a judicial branch that looks like the country it serves. We must generate reform that enhances the facilitation of critical thinking through active conversations regarding diversity and inclusion. We must continue to fight. However, in this moment, we must also remember the smile that Leila gave her mother, watching her create the representation that was never before available. We must remember the tears shed by Senator Cory Booker as he recalled the work of Black women through history to finally reach this joy. We must remember the work to be done, but we must also celebrate how far we have come.