June has been an extraordinary month for people who have been “othered” for far too long. The Supreme Court under Justice John G. Roberts is surprising us, or at least surprising me. First, we had a ruling on June 15th that stood beside LGBTQ people affirming their rights and protections as outlined in the 1964 Civil Rights Act.
Then we had the June 18th decision to affirm that our current president cannot end DACA, thus shielding from deportation nearly 700,000 young immigrants brought here as children.
Today we had a decision to strike down a Louisiana law, which had nothing to do with protecting women, but whose purpose was to add an undue burden to women seeking abortions.
As a white, straight, woman with a PhD, I have not experienced many of things that “others” have. In many ways, my white privilege shields me. However, I have experienced countless violations, many that would surprise most of you. These experiences have viscerally taught me what it means to be in danger from white men who exercise their privilege with evil intent. Yet, I believe that there are many men with privilege who do not use their power for evil and, in fact, are allies. However, there are many more who are blind to their privilege, just as white women can be.
As an academic, I have also studied the systemic nature of patriarchy and white supremacy, admittedly the former more than the latter. The systemic structures of patriarchy are seeded within the very roots in our democracy. So too is white supremacy. After all the US Constitution states that “all men are created equal” and buried within its white washing of slavery is also the right for troops to procure runaway slaves as “criminals.” Yes, the roots of patriarchy and white supremacy run deep. Yet, for many Americans there is too often a blind acceptance of what seems normal, much of which is anything but normal.
Knowing what I know through experience, buttressed by my knowledge, I am profoundly grateful to Justice Roberts. His steady hand in these turbulent times, with his judgement guided by precedence, has proved to be a stabilizing force upon the court. I am also grateful to Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Despite significant health issues, she remains on the court dedicated to seeing justice served when retiring would have, at least physically, been much easier. These two justices, both leaning in different ideological directions, are shining lights guiding America on its course toward achieving the goal of “justice for all.”