The Supreme Court gets sprinkled with a dose of ‘Black Girl Magic’

Associate Justice Jackson will be the first African American woman appointed to the Supreme Court | Lelanie Foster| White House

Saddleback College embraces the confirmation of new Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson

As an African American woman with a diverse cultural background that’s deeply rooted in the earliest colonizers of our country, I have often found myself on the receiving end of subtle micro-aggression and discrimination. Yet the bruises and mental anguish, invisible to others, hasn’t prevented me from loving and believing in myself.

It is believed that Black women possess a proverbial magic that encourages us to achieve impossible heights.  The magic that exists within all of us to maintain a high self-esteem when the world says we should believe otherwise.

We call it “Black Girl Magic.”

On April 7, a bipartisan group of Senators announced that after 233 years, the Supreme Court of the United States was going to finally get its first dose of Black Girl Magic as Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed as the next Supreme Court associate Justice.

She endured a grueling confirmation with an unfounded lack of support from a large majority of Republican senators, however, she appeared unphased and remained dignified during many of the absurd lines of questioning. As soon as she was announced to be the new Supreme Court Justice, I found myself overwhelmed with hope, pride and tears of joy for what this means for our country. 

Clearly, it is apparent America is moving in the right direction. A direction that is filled with diversity and representation of what an American truly looks like. It is no longer an all-white male ruled justice system and African Americans are no longer considered ⅗ of a person as it suggests in our Constitution. An American comes from an array of cultural backgrounds, therefore it’s only right that the highest court of the land becomes a reflection of that. 

 I spoke to several Saddleback students and faculty and asked what it meant for Associate Justice-Designate Ketanji Brown Jackson to be confirmed to the Supreme Court. The reaction was mixed with the majority being positive.

Kathleen Burke, chancellor of South Orange County Community College District, called the appointed “long-needed,” in addition:

“Any appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court has a profound and lasting impact on the ways in which we understand and apply the laws that govern our nation and all too frequently individual rights under the law. 

Ensuring that the Justices making those determinations come from a variety of backgrounds, different points of view, and life experiences is critical in establishing interpretations of the law that reflect the breadth and depth of our society. Associate Justice-Elect Ketanji Brown Jackson adds a critical perspective that has been missing from the Court since its inception in 1789. 

She is only the sixth woman and the second woman of color to be appointed to the high court. This is an appointment that has been long-needed and reflects the complexity of contemporary life in the United States. A door has been opened and it is our responsibility as citizens to keep it open and welcome other perspectives that have still not been reflected on the Court.”

Chancellor Burke’s statement profoundly reminds us that representation matters in an American justice system as well as a wide array of perspectives. Everyone should be able to have their voices heard. 

Women, in general, have historically been a marginalized group in our country and in some ways continue to be underrepresented in many professional environments. How will young women learn the sky’s the limit for what they are able to become if they can’t envision themselves reaching great heights professionally?

From a child, we are taught to aspire to be wives and mothers but not chancellors of community college districts or even Supreme Court Justices. To dream it and believe it, we have to first see it, and that’s what makes the appointment of the first African American woman to the U.S. Supreme Court so monumental. It’s the beginning of a new era. The misogynistic society of the ‘50s is dead and change has come.

 It’s apparent this win is not just for women of color but for women … period. 

The celebration of Associate Justice-Designate Ketanji Brown Jackson confirmation can be echoed throughout Saddleback campuses from women from all walks of life.

Maddie Black, Saddleback student exclaimed, “She is amazing!” when asked how she felt about the news of the new Justice Jackson being confirmed, while her friend Faith Cannon joined in on her excitement exclaiming, “It’s exciting!” 

“She is amazing!” Saddleback student Maddie Black said.  Her friend, Faith Cannon, shared in her joy, stating that “it’s exciting.”

This is an exciting time indeed. 

Vanessa Arciniega, a Mexican American Saddleback student, felt the confirmation made her feel as though America is starting to become more unified.

“Mexican Latinos and Blacks are always on the [same] side,” Arciniega said. “It’s closely becoming one. We’re one unit. It’s really cool that she gets to represent her community. I feel like that’s really cool.” 

The same tone is echoed throughout 90% of responses from both Saddleback students and faculty and that is equality is on the rise. A country where there is more unity is the ultimate goal for most of us. 

Kathy Damm, Saddleback psychology professor, said it was absolutely necessary.

“With it being mostly bipartisan, it’s mostly a demonstration that we’re moving towards a common belief in equality,” Damm said. “It was a very necessary thing to happen. Especially in the climate we have right now where there is a lot of tension.”

While Damm was having lunch with professor Caroline Gee, chair of Saddleback psychology, Gee chimed in by saying, “it’s something we need, we’re coming together.”

At the same time, there were a number of students who didn’t seem aware of her accomplishments and were not as thrilled. For instance, Bella Chetti, interior design major student at Saddleback said she didn’t know enough about Justice-Designate Jackson to know if she is qualified enough to serve on the Supreme Court.

“I don’t know enough about her to make a statement about it,” Chetti said. “I am excited to see what she brings but I don’t know if she is qualified or not because I haven’t done enough research.” 

For student Bella Chetti, the topic of qualifications is up in the air. Of course, we have the naysayers who don’t think she’s qualified at all.

“I’m not a fan of her, personally,” Catalina Cristi said. “I don’t think she’s that qualified. I’m more of a fan of Clarence Thomas personally. He’s catholic. I like the kind of person he is. I like him better. I think he’s doing a good job even though he might not be a good person. I don’t really like Justice Jackson, but I think she is going to do a good job.”

Damm said her experience is, in fact, her key strength. She stated that “she’s more qualified than some of the other people who have been put on the Supreme Court.” 

Indeed, Supreme Court Justice-Designate Jackson has not only graduated from Harvard University, as well as Harvard law school, but she has more than eight years of experience as a judge, which is more than Justice Thomas had when he was confirmed. 

Another key point is she is the only Supreme Court Justice with experience as a federal public defender.

In Supreme Court Justice-Designate Jackson’s first address to the media she said “I am the dream and the hope of the slave.” Yes you are, Justice Jackson. Yes, you are.