The Sotomayor Experience

For reference:
“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life." - Judge Sotomayor
The Richness of Her Experience

Without question the easiest road to a successful life in this society begins by being born an upper class white male. Any one of us can think of numerous examples of very successful people who appear to have little else to explain their success. George Bush for example.

The problem with this road to success is simply that what it offers in ease and comfort, it takes away in richness of experience. Although he may well know richness when it comes to cultural, education and food, he may find himself detached from the real world, like a President that doesn’t know the price of bread, because he will not be rich in experience. Such a person may never know hunger, or pain, or the bad side of the police, or the righteous criminal, may never know what it's like to be kicked to the curb, may never really know how the other half +99% live.

But just such experiences are the furnace in which the character is annealed, knowledge of the practical realities of the world is gained, empathy and a love of fairness are learned, and a truer understanding of the very terms of justice are forged.

What these rich white men in the Senate don't want to have to face though they have managed to hang on to the vast majority of judgeships and Senate seats for so long, it that here too:

As something is gained, so something is lost.

And all other things being equal a black man, a poor man, a women, a cripple, an immigrate, anyone that has been forced to face special challenges and special prejudice and overcome them will be a better person for it, will be informed by that experience and without question be a better judge than one who by virtual of birth, has been handed the proverbial silver spoon of the upper class white male and, in Sotomayor’s words, “hadn’t lived that life.” There was absolutely nothing racist about Sotomayor citing her life experience as a Latina woman nor can we pretend it is just as easy for a Latina woman to make it to the bench of the Supreme Court as it is for a white male.

Richness of Experience Part II

They should be asking her just what does she mean when she refers to "the richness of her experience” but they don't get it. They want to dwell on her statement that she came to these conclusions as a "wise Latina women" with the focus on "Latina” because they are intent on using her nomination and confirmation process, which they know they can't defeat, to sow confusion about racism.

After all, the capitalism economy’s in the toilet. Poor people will need to pay. Opposition to the policies of more war, less health care and cutbacks is bound to increase, so time to shore up that tried and true technique for dividing the people, racism.

So they boldly call her a racist. As if there are Latino racists and black racists, along with white racists and so on and we can all agree that any kind of racism is bad. As if racism is just a matter of personal opinions or even less, of personal expression. As if... As if white racism wasn't forge in the last 500 years of the white European's brutal conquest of the natural world and the colored peoples of it. White racism has also benefited from a certain 'richness of experience’. In this country, it developed with the genocide of the indigenous people and was brought to a much keener edge than anywhere else in the world through the importation and exploitation of African slaves. It was annealed by white terrorism of the KKK and Jim Crow laws and continues to be polished till this day. These Senate confirmation hearings give many examples of such polishing.

Here in North America, white racism has without question had a certain 'richness of experience' as its foundations and supports that no so-called Black or Latino racism can claim. Only white racists have ever run the country, determined it laws, the basis of its culture, its economics, its politics, government and been in such a position to develop and promote their ideas and make them the controlling ideas.

The people attacking Sotomayor as a racist want us to forget about that and adopt a definition and understanding of racism that is divorce from its historical roots and its continuing economic, social and political supports. The facts are that after more than two hundred years were have been very few women or people of color on the high court, and there has never been a Latina women on the high court and these people want us to pretend that racism, by which I mean institutionalized white racism, is a thing of the past.