Politics / The Color Line

It’s Time To Be Vigilant: Missing White Woman Syndrome Is Real

sonia sotomayor 2

I still haven’t figured out the proper definition of “reverse racism.”

Wouldn’t “reverse racism” still be considered racism?

Moreover, as Keith Olbermann has done so over the past few nights with acute hilarity that the same Right-wing talking heads of Karl Rove and Newt Gingrich were claiming that current Justice Samuel Alito was the victim of racism from the Democrats and self-professed liberals.  What we’re seeing now in the face of Judge Sonia Sotomayor is this identity politics, that we all practice, but still is something we should strive to move past.

Circling the liberal blogosphere and media outlets is this following statement from the confirmation hearings of Justice Alito when prompted by U.S. Sen. Sam Coburn, Republican from Okalahoma.  It’s a bit long, but in favor getting the whole picture, here it is:

I don’t come from an affluent background or a privileged background. My parents were both quite poor when they were growing up.

And I know about their experiences and I didn’t experience those things. I don’t take credit for anything that they did or anything that they overcame.

But I think that children learn a lot from their parents and they learn from what the parents say. But I think they learn a lot more from what the parents do and from what they take from the stories of their parents lives.

And that’s why I went into that in my opening statement.Because when a case comes before me involving, let’s say, someone who is an immigrant — and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases — I can’t help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn’t that long ago when they were in that position.

And so it’s my job to apply the law. It’s not my job to change the law or to bend the law to achieve any result.

But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, “You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country.”

When I have cases involving children, I can’t help but think of my own children and think about my children being treated in the way that children may be treated in the case that’s before me.

And that goes down the line. When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account. When I have a case involving someone who’s been subjected to discrimination because of disability, I have to think of people who I’ve known and admire very greatly who’ve had disabilities, and I’ve watched them struggle to overcome the barriers that society puts up often just because it doesn’t think of what it’s doing — the barriers that it puts up to them.

So those are some of the experiences that have shaped me as a person. [Emphasis added by the reprint from Salon.com]

Well, that’s akin to the comment that Gingrich and Karl Rove and the likes of Tom Tancredo have pounced on alleging her a racist–of all labels. 

No one person, judge or nominee will speak in a female or people of color voice. I need not remind you that Justice Clarence Thomas represents a part but not the whole of African-American thought on many subjects. Yet, because I accept the proposition that, as Judge Resnik describes it, “to judge is an exercise of power” and because as, another former law school classmate, Professor Martha Minnow of Harvard Law School, states “there is no objective stance but only a series of perspectives – no neutrality, no escape from choice in judging,” I further accept that our experiences as women and people of color affect our decisions. The aspiration to impartiality is just that–it’s an aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others. Not all women or people of color, in all or some circumstances or indeed in any particular case or circumstance but enough people of color in enough cases, will make a difference in the process of judging….

…In our private conversations, Judge Cedarbaum has pointed out to me that seminal decisions in race and sex discrimination cases have come from Supreme Courts composed exclusively of white males. I agree that this is significant but I also choose to emphasize that the people who argued those cases before the Supreme Court which changed the legal landscape ultimately were largely people of color and women. I recall that Justice Thurgood Marshall, Judge Connie Baker Motley, the first black woman appointed to the federal bench, and others of the NAACP argued Brown v. Board of Education. Similarly, Justice Ginsburg, with other women attorneys, was instrumental in advocating and convincing the Court that equality of work required equality in terms and conditions of employment.

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.

Okay, that’s hella long, but if you’re interested in being fully informed you’ll read it.  The full text can be found here at this link from the New York Times.  I would have dropped the YouTube, but I couldn’t find it.

Fact of the matter is that the GOP is launching a bunch of crock right now.  And even some Right-wingers know it.  I found this from a Right wing blog that said:

urther, I don’t think fighting Sonia Sotomayor’s nomination will do the right any good at this point. First of all, it’s a fight we CANNOT win. Not by a long shot. By summer, Republicans probably won’t even have the votes to filibuster her nomination. Allwe can do is throw out some nasty quotes, and that will just make the right look like sore losers.

Second, if we strongly oppose the first Latina into the Supreme Court, we will lose more Latino/Latina voters. We’ve already lost 2/3rds or that vote to the Democrats. We lose anymore and we’ve doomed ourselves nationally. Latino voters will in the future be so numerous that the Republicans absolutely CANNOT lose the vote at a high percentage. Many Latino voters seemed inclined to vote Republican in past elections, and the majority are conservative on many social issues. Let’s not alienate them in this unwinnable battle.

At a time, when the right is not in a particularly good position, we have to pick our battles. I don’t think this is a good one.

I think this begs, yet again, this country to have this serious conversation about diversity.  I doubt we’re ready to have a serious immigration talk.  I mean, if this country still can’t acknowledge the forced immigration of Africans to the Americas and yes even to this country, I highly doubt that we’re ready to talk about the immigration of others from Latin America north to the United States.  Honestly, I’m really not one to charge some of these political heads with being racist, but damn, just watching them recoil and get ready to pounce on this issue smacks of such wanton white privilege and ghastly unawares of racial issues in this country, I truly wonder if they really do ascribe to the idea that “white is right” and ultimately better than the rest–therefore making them racists in my book.

We must remain vigilant.

***********************************************************

bonnie sweetenWhy?  Because yet again some random white woman, Bonnie Sweeten faked an abduction by two black men.  I mean in the face of the young girl last year who carved an “O” on her face saying that a black man assaulted her and that the “O” stood for Obama and of course the infamous 1994 drowning by Susan Smith of her kids after she said a black man had carjacked her with her kids still in the car.  

I personally don’t know how to feel about this one.  I mean should it make a difference that she accused two black men or should this just have been a story about a crazy random lady?

OHHHH, I know what it was, we in this country suffer from MWWS or Missing White Woman Syndrome.

I’m sure dozens of white women go missing weekly throughout this country and we hear nothing about them.   Or even dozens of women of color go missing and maybe not even a report gets filed on their behalf.  So what was so special about her? Maybe it’s because the “two black men” were involved in the telling of this story.  Maybe it’s the simple fact that race is at the forefront of our everyday existence but no one wants to really discuss it.  Seriously, throughout the story reported on the ABC link I dropped, there is no mention as to why she accused two black men and the ramifications it may have had.  The same was true for Nightline’s 5/28/09 report on this story.

Its definitely time to be vigilant in this country and to just use the inner critical thinking skills that I’m sure most of us have.  I don’t think we have the luxury of being force-fed information from the church house to the courthouse and from the news room to our living rooms.  I think we have to “wake up” and see things differently than what we once did in order to effectively change.  We’ve gotten stuck in a rut where we think, as a country, that if we do the same things, but do it harder: like, if we shout louder than we shouted before, but we’re still shouting the same rhetoric; or if we pray a bit harder the same tired prayers then maybe something will change.

And since we’re still in the same position as before, let’s try something different.

Do you think the Right/GOP/Conservative talking heads have outdone themselves with this one here? Is this the right battle for them to pick?  Do you think I was way off base as to why we know the name Bonnie Sweeten in the face of many others? 

Keep it uppity and keep it truthfully radical, JLL

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3 thoughts on “It’s Time To Be Vigilant: Missing White Woman Syndrome Is Real

  1. The GOP will indeed lose the Sotomayor battle, but I think it’s important to note that it is the same, crazy Right Wing nutjobs, such as Rush, that are spearheading this reverse-racism debacle. There are many GOPers openly calling it a disgrace, which I think positive and helpful (all though I am not naive enough to think that doing so is in and of itself politically motivated.)

    As far as Bonnie Sweeten goes, the item in the story that caught my attention was that she had supposedly called the police from the trunk of the car on her cell phone right after her and her daughter were abducted. You have to admit, that would have been pretty intense.

  2. I totally agree with your article. Sotomayor is in for a fight from the GOP. I hope she does not break under pressure. I think her response that has cause such an uproar has been taken out of context.

    I knew the Bonnie Sweeten story was a hoax from jump. Don’t know why but something didn’t sit right with me when I heard it on the news.

  3. Good post. Interesting juxtaposition of the two news items.

    Uppity is vigilant struggling. Stay vigilant and stay uppity. We can be both. Models of uppity consciousness is sometimes hard to come by to those who are young and seeking ‘honorable place’ in this culture.

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