From Ebony Magazine — Perhaps it shouldn’t matter to anyone –but it does. While it may be years before we see the first African American woman president, we could have and should have had a shot at the first African American female justice. Even more troubling, there was no public cry for one, save a few brave radio DJ’s. When the short list of qualified candidates was being vetted around Washington, no one asked why there was no mention of black women.

If nothing else, think about the proud heritage that person would draw upon. Imagine a woman who hails from the same spirit of Harriet Tubman, or Sojourner Truth, or even the late Dorothy Height. There is a certain dignity that comes with being an African American woman. It defies schooling, and transcends pedigree. An African American woman should have been considered by the president because without them, we, and I’m speaking as an African American male, would not be where we are today. Neither would he.

It was the black female who nursed our wounds during slavery, and the Civil Rights Movement, and crack and prison – wrong or right. It was the black female who stood strong when the voices of the black male were being lynched or silenced. It was the black female who raised our children when thousands of black men, many innocent, went to prison for crimes they did not commit. Each day we learn of a man who spent decades in prison, guilty of one thing, and only one thing, being black.

Imagine the wisdom of Oprah Winfrey on the bench, or the eloquence of Maya Angelou arguing cases in the chambers. Imagine the discipline of a woman who, like Harriet Tubman, led her people from slavery. Black women did so then, they continued to do so today. What’s wrong with Justice Winfrey or Angelou, or Gilmore?
Gilmore? Okay, I admit I’m a bit prejudiced here. Judge Vanessa Gilmore, is also a friend. But she’s also a Federal Judge who sits on the bench in Houston. She possesses quick wit, a sharp tongue, and wisdom beyond her years.

A Clinton appointee, Gilmore is the embodiment of the African American female. She is strong, independent, and outspoken when needed and silent when silence matters. She is a single mom, raising an adopted child, a male, and she is doing it well. Like many before her, she did not graduate from Harvard or Yale, but instead a lesser known school. Despite that, she rose through the ranks of the legal system and did well enough to get the attention of then President Bill Clinton. For those reasons alone, she deserved a shot at becoming the first African American female Supreme Court Justice.

The late Ginger Rogers once said of her dance partner, Fred Astaire, that she did everything he did only backwards. Black women do all of their things their white female counterparts do, only with a degree of difficulty.

Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against Elena Kagan, the woman Obama picked. I’m sure she is a qualified woman or the president wouldn’t have nominated her. But the statement that would have been delivered had he chosen an African American woman, would have been powerful. It would have recognized the contributions of so many who blazed the path before him. It would have put on notice the all white male establishment that only recently opened its doors to white women. It was that way in Washington when I arrived in this town twenty five years ago, and still is. Only a handful of women of color have pierced the ranks. It would have been the right thing to do.

(Finish reading article @ Ebony….)

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  • Clnmike

    Kagan’s record shows a tendency to side with some very conservative views in dealing with civil and human rights of terrorists. She looks like a offering to the GOP then someone who is going to push liberal ideals. Tragic considering who she is supposed to be replacing. If Obama can cater to the right then he can cater to black women, that would be the right thing to do if he is going to play that game.

  • Akai*

    Geez, reading this piece I see that reverse prejudice (and plain ol’ self-centeredness) is real as real can be and – so sorry but – I’ll stay with preferring qualified (first and foremost), fair, unbiased individuals that do their damndest to adhere to/accurately interpret the laws. The confirmation process is brutal and if there are skeletons, reversals, questionable decisions or pure wackness to be uncovered the opposition will do it, so one important consideration is whether a candidate can pass all that scrutiny.

    I’ll admit to being an Independent that supported Obama (though never always agreeing with all his policies) and I sniggle and roll my eyes at dudes like the writer, Tavis Smiley etc. who foam at the mouth insinuating the president should serve some “black agenda.” There is no way – in a diverse country of 300+million – Obama could have ever been elected without the support/votes of members of all ‘racial’ groups and it’d be insane for anyone to think he should merely be president for one group when AA’s only constitute 12-13% of the population.

    If it’s necessary to play the silly race card out of turn again, maybe Obama should have chosen an Asian or Native American to be politically correct. Latinos constitute 16% of America’s population and there is Sotomayor and – love or hate him or his wack politics – there is already a black American now sitting on the SCOTUS, so what da hell else does the writer want?? Does the glass always have to be seen as friggin’ half-empty?

    A biracial male currently sits in the Oval Office and his AA wife (one of my idols) is front and center reppin’ highly educated (Ivy, holla) and sophisticated women and is a fashion trendsetter with the body of a goddess. There are various women of color in the current administration (as well as elsewhere) that I can look and find inspiration or simply be awed and see a “powerful statement.”

    On President Obama’s staff and in his administration are dynamic, super-intelligent and savvy women and it’s been said his administration has “the largest contingent of high-ranking black women to work for a president.” We’re talking the appointment of many firsts i.e. Mona Sutphen (Deputy Chief of Staff), Lisa Jackson (EPA Chief), Melody Barnes (Director of the Domestic Policy Council) in addition to Susan Rice (UN Ambassador), Valerie Jarrett (Senior Adviser), Cassandra Butts (Deputy White House Counsel), Peggy Hamburg (though her father is Jewish) leads the FDA etc.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/17/AR2009031703744.html?hpid=artslot

    I say the POTUS is doing his part to ‘deliver a powerful statement’!

    If bruh who wrote the article wants to talk about “the right thing to do” and show reverence, respect and ‘recognize the contributions’ of those who nursed wounds, stood strong, raised children etc. — instead of riding the POTUS’ ***-sack and dumping all responsibility for that in his lap maybe he could contact these so-called “brave radio DJs” and start a movement aimed at his boys. One that finally eradicates selling drugs to one’s own people, filling prisons or videos full of bootie and disrespect to send worldwide messages of how little they respect their women, calling one’s own females out their names on the regular on the streets and on wax, and encourages them to grow up, step up and marry instead of being a sperm donor all over town then skipping etc.

  • edrina

    Obama is hitting 3 demographics with Kagan as a nominee: female, jewish and white from yet another “Ivy” school background. If selected she will be the 3rd jewish justice on the court. There are qualified Asians, African Americans and other minorities not from “Ivy” league schools that could have been considered for a more balanced representation to sit on the bench. Kagan has never been a judge and is stated based on “wiki” conservative judaism. A recent decision by the court was no restrictions on corporate donations to politicians. The judge she is replacing was one of the last justices that voted center to left. Kagan is said to be quite conservative based on some of the decisions she made or did not make during her time as dean of Harvard’s Law School. Make what you will of this information.