If you know the history of racism in this country, you will not be surprised to learn that I received a flood of angry emails from (apparently) white Americans about my post “Does Amy Coney Barrett Need Her Black Children Anymore?” These letters called me a racist for suggesting Barrett’s adoption of black children from Haiti was not pure. Indeed, it can be seen as exploitive, as there is little in her history as a judge that shows she has anything like the needed concern to appreciate the challenges of being black not only in America, but the West Indies and Africa.
This letter was typical:
I just read your article about Justice Barrett’s children.
What an angry racist person you are.
It is people like you that that divide.
You anger issues should be addressed. Your racism too.
Some people even promised to pray for me. I was nothing but a bitter writer who had a demonic agenda. We must not question the motives of a Christian white woman, despite being nominated by a racist to a seat in the country’s highest court. And how do I know he is a racist? Now, one only has to see how Joe Biden, during his victory speech on November 7, forcefully thanked black Americans for their support. This is in sharp contrast to Trump, who can only say things like: “I’m the best thing that has ever happened to black people.” And I want it to be known, I’m not big on Biden. I think he is too much in the middle for my political tastes. Nevertheless, any black parent will appreciate the acknowledgment of black initiative (blacks are inert or locked in nonage in Trump’s world) and will also understand Van Jones’s burst of balling upon learning of Trump’s defeat on Saturday.
Van Jones is not a poor man, and he raised his black children in circumstances that we can describe as privileged. But in the US, being upper-middle class doesn’t cut it. And nor is having a boom economy (“I’m the best thing that happened to black people”), the momentum of which began around 2012, under Barack Obama.
Trump belittled people of color at every opportunity and made a bold show of his support of white supremacists and racist policing. As Jones well understood, and as well as most black parents, and as many woke white parents with black children or relations, is this empowered people with nothing else going for them but the color of their skin. My children will likely never meet Trump, but they have met a Trumper at a supermarket, a cinema, or in a police car.
I understand Barrett cried when she saw the video of George Floyd…
We wept together? But, for her, systemic racism is something murky. Something she can’t exactly put her finger on. It is about policy, maybe? But as a literalist, she excepts law written as is, even if slave owners conceived it. This is what Sen. Dick Durbin is getting at. Systemic racism is beyond what she and her black daughter cried about when she saw Floyd’s murder.
I understand why Barrett cried. It was just the vision of violence. But does she know why her daughter cried? No, she certainly doesn’t, and she doesn’t care to know. And judging from her response to Durbin’s interrogation, she has no idea or was indifferent to what made Van Jones cry. Trump did not put a knee on a black man’s neck, but he certainly pumped a lot of racism poison into every aspect of American life. This is Barrett’s boss. She has black children. It’s unlikely they saw their mother cry when Trump lost the election.