I'm not sure I'll be able to make it thru the inevitable "reverse discrimination against white males" hooha during Sotomayor's confirmation.8:09 AM May 27th from webHalf an hour later, former Speaker of the House @newtgingrich tweeted
"White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.""Good call, Ayse. On the money.
One line taken out of context from an old speech has been used by right-wingers to indict Sotomayor over and over for her "racism:"
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.Lawsamercy. How can she SAY that? We're all equal! If we say we aren't equal, then we are racist!!
Here's why she can say that: white privilege.
Here's what white people, me included, fail to see on a day to day basis: our very skin color affords us a feeling of ease and comfort in this society that people of color don't have.
The deck is stacked in our favor. White people set up the system, white people run the system, and white people make the system work best for other white people, especially white people of means.
White privilege means that we can trust, if we are rejected for a job, that it isn't because of our skin color. We can go shopping without people following us around the store. When we get pulled over by a cop, we have very little worry about getting beaten up or shot. If our children get put in special education, we trust that it is because they truly have special needs, not because of the color of their skin.
Sotomayor, no matter how entrenched in the system she becomes, still has the advantage of an outsider's perspective, because, no matter who she becomes, no matter what she does, she will still be largely seen and treated as a woman of color, as something outside the norm.
It's like the old saying about being as nervous as a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. To be a person of color in our society is to have to be aware, at all times, where the rocking chairs are and who is occupying them, because still, even in 2009, the moment you quit paying attention is the moment your tail gets crushed.
It is this sharper vision I believe she was speaking of in her speech. She was saying that her perspective as a Latina woman, in a vast field of white male judges, brings something they can't offer because she sees things they don't. That isn't racism, that's life experience.
And in case you're going to hit me with the "but everything has changed" argument, let me first say that yes, things have changed and are still changing for the better. But here are some news stories from recent past:
Ecuadoran man killed by mob in hate crime: "The teens later told police that they were from East Patchogue and Medford and that they were looking for Hispanics to beat up."
Unarmed man shot by officer in train station
State Trooper Chokes Paramedic
Those are just a few. There are many, many others that pop up so often that it is hard to keep track of them all - and those are just the ones that are reported.
So when Sonia Sotomayor says she might have perspective that white males don't, I believe her. She has to.