Saturday, July 18, 2009

Racism 3.0

One of my favorite professors often talks about how fighting racism has gotten so nuanced these days that it is often hard to see, hence the "3.0" tag. Couldn't help but think that we got a rare public view of what that looks like this week as we watched the confirmation hearings of Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Eight years ago the judge, who appears to have a stellar record on the bench, made a comment about the ability of a "Wise Latina" to draw upon her experiences and come to a more fair conclusion than a White man who has not had the same experience. As she prepared to take a seat on the highest court in the land, she had "some 'xplaining to do" about what this comment meant.

How is this racist you may ask? Simple, only when Judge Sotomayor was about to access one of the most coveted positions of power in this country did she have to be reminded, by people of far less ethical fiber than her own, that it is not the experience of the Wise Latina that is most coveted in this country, and while she may be able to get on the bench, it would behoove her to remember that her rise has not been of her own making, and there are are still forces waiting to smack her down the first time she "steps out of line". Racism today isn't necessarily about overt acts of discrimination, though they certainly still happen daily, but more importantly racism today is about maintaining long standing power structures that favor a white, eurocentric tradition. Only when it makes sense for the best interest of this power base is a minority allowed access, and not until they have had their "hazing" about who they should thank for getting there. Hopefully Justice Sotomayor will continue to draw upon the experiences that have gotten her this far and show just exactly why the Wise Latina will be an asset to the high court.

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