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Who We Are, Or At Least Aspire To Be

SAY WHAT? - In a blessed move acknowledged by Chuck Schumer as not just years but generations overdue, the Senate confirmed eminently qualified Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson as the first black woman and first public defender to serve on the Supreme Court; her confirmation will also mark a tipping point for a Court that will now, for the first time in its 233-year history, no longer have a majority of white men. The well-earned  ascendance of Jackson, in a final tally of 53-47, was made just a bit sweeter by being presided over by Kamala Harris, this country's first female Vice-President of color; you could see her trying not to smile at the vision of women of color taking over the whole damn joint, and not a moment too soon. Harris later said the occasion made "an important statement about who we are as a nation," or at least, perhaps more accurately, who we aspire to be. Many others likewise rejoiced, from a beaming Cory Booker to members of the Black Caucus in "Black Women Are Supreme" t-shirts to Rep. Ayanna Pressley celebrating the signal to black girls that, "We belong everywhere."

When the vote was announced, the Chamber, or that side of it inhabited by sentient human beings, erupted in cheers. On the other side, the 47 Republicans who'd voted against Jackson in their unending quest to live and die on the wrong side of history huffily marched out, a churlish parade of rude Klan drama queens throwing a graceless, despicable hissy fit. Among them, only Mitt Romney was enough of a mensch to stand and clap like the rest of the world, while three of his pettiest cohorts - Rand Paul, Lindsey Graham, Jim Inhofe - voted from the Senate cloakroom after refusing to wear a tie. (That'll show the libs.) Still, not even their moronic, vindictive antics could rob the historic occasion of its joy, which was profound, and pervasive. For a still-emotional Cory Booker, Jackson's success promises to "plant the seeds of dreams in kids' hearts," to "heal the hurt a little bit" of growing up black, or female, or other in a still often-hostile country. In that hope, he echoes many, both present and absent. In honor of two who would have cherished Jackson's triumph - RBG and John Lewis, the Prince of Good Trouble - we declare it a good day. May there be more.

Heather Cox Richardson compares Jackson's confirmation to the 1865 passage of the 13th Amendment ending slavery. She quotes from the New York Times: "Thereupon rose a general shout of applause. The members on the floor huzzaed in chorus with deafening and equally emphatic cheers...The ladies in the dense assemblage waved their handkerchiefs (with) clapping of hands and exclamations of ‘Hurrah for freedom,’ ‘Glory enough for one day'... Never was a scene of such a joyous character before witnessed."  

 

(Abby Zimet has written CD's Further column since 2008. A longtime, award-winning journalist, involved in women's, labor, anti-war, social justice and refugee rights issues. Email: [email protected])