I want to highlight a very cool fundraiser. Friendly Hmong Farms is hosting a Mother’s Day flower sale (however you define mother or just order spring flowers for yourself). It is a win-win-win. The sale benefits Seattle Public Schools, a match will go to a Title 1 (high poverty school), and it supports POC farmers. This is their biggest flower selling weekend of the season; the pre-sales will give them a boost. If you’re not in Seattle and want to support you can order flowers on the website and have them donated or contact email@example.com and I’ll help you figure out a way to support the fundraiser.
Last week Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson was confirmed to the highest court in the United States – the US Supreme Court. This is important and monumental. Many have said her presence in the room will change conversations and it will. The court for too long and still is too white. Out of the 115 justices in the over 200-year history, all but seven have been white men, only three have been people of color – Justices Thurgood Marshall (African American/Black), Clarence Thomas (African American/Black), and Sonia Sotomayor (Latina). None have been LGBTQ. While many point to the women on the court being revolutionary, and it was, gender diversity is not the same as racial diversity.
This image by the Washington Post also highlights how insular the experiences of the justices are. All but Justice Barrett graduated from an Ivy League law school, most clerked in the Supreme Court, and all but Justice Kagan served on the Court of Appeals. These are prestigious and noteworthy, but we should also question if having such similar experiences is what the court needs. Does it lead to groupthink or shortcuts in understanding versus interrogating to understand and interrogating to believe something to be true?
There has never been an Asian, Native American, or Pacific Islander represented on the courts, nor have these racial groups been nominated or seriously considered for a Supreme Court seat. White people are overrepresented on the court. We need a Black woman AND we need an Asian, Native American, and Pacific Islander on the court.
I remember when I first read an op-ed in the local NW Asian Weekly by publisher Assunta Ng arguing that an Asian, I scoffed and thought it was a preposterous idea. I now cringe remembering that was my first reaction. An Asian should be on the court. There are many cases the court considers having direct impacts on the Asian community – college admissions, immigration, employment and discrimination, access to health care, etc. Court cases brought by Asian Americans have reshaped America and they will continue to do so since we are a vital part of the American population.
The same can be said for Native Americans and Pacific Islanders. Native Americans and Indigenous people have been systemically disenfranchised by the US government since the illegal takeover of their land. Pacific Islanders to have not had equal representation in government even though their island nations often feel the brunt of the US decisions militarily, climate change, and underinvestment of resources. These two race groups have smaller populations and some of the highest disparities. Having justices on the court who understand AND have lived these experiences would change the conversation and possible outcomes for people of color.
As the court diversifies some will say people of color are taking seats away from white people who earned the right to be on the court. Increasing racial diversity of the court will scare some, including people who proclaim to be allies and progressives. Adding more people of color to the Supreme Court is not taking away from white people. Increasing diversity will enhance the Court’s ability to be relevant and meaningful to Americans.
The Supreme Court by design is the weakest of the three bodies of the US government. The Courts do not have the power of the military or the budget. – Federalist No 78. “has no influence over either the sword or the purse; … It may truly be said to have neither FORCE nor WILL, but merely judgment; ….” It is also the smallest therefore its power comes from being in good-standing and respected by the American citizenry (meant broadly not just the technical definition). If the Supreme Court is to be relevant and have relevancy the Executive Branch and Legislative Branch should seek to ensure it is truly diverse. As I write this, I know many will work to prevent this diversity from happening, but hopefully, with enough foresight and planning, we can work to make it happen. Diversity doesn’t happen by accident it is often intentional and needs to be sustained over time – a strong democracy depends on it.
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I am writing from the lands of the 29 federally recognized and non-federally recognized tribes in now Washington State, including the Coast Salish people — Duwamish, Muckleshoot, Suquamish, Snoqualmie, Quinault, and Native American organizations that have treaty rights and have been here since time immemorial. I give my thanks to the elders, Native and Indigenous colleagues and relations, and the land itself. Fakequity pays “rent” to Native organizations in Washington and Hawaii; a small act to repair and work to be in more justice-based relations.