Well I think that is going to be a problem for her but the second problem and the more important one is in the Frank Ricci case, which was really an act of real discrimination against these white firefighters. It was up in New Haven, Connecticut. That came to her appellate court and it was really an outrage and she wrote a single paragraph on it and covered it up and buried it. Even her chief judge said that this is an outrage and this is on its way to the US Supreme Court. The question is, does she believe in reverse discrimination against white males. It appears she does and I think the Frank Ricci story versus the Judge Sotomayor is going to be really where this battle is fought out.
The Ricci case basically comes down to whether or not to uphold affirmative action. Ricci is a fireman who finished sixth of seventy-seven in a test to be promoted to lieutenant in New Haven Connecticut. When it was revealed that the results of the test would not allow for the promotion of a single person of color, the test was thrown out and no one was promoted. Ricci felt that this was discrimination and filed suit.
I find it interesting that Chris Matthews felt that Karen Torre, Frank Ricci’s lawyer was competent to speak about whether or not the Black community was upset by the nature of the testing and the results. Who could be more competent to speak on behalf of Blacks than a white woman?
If a test is issued and visible minorities do not score as well as whites, clearly there is an inbuilt bias in the test. People of color are not naturally inferior to whites. Just like any other standardized testing, examining acquired knowledge is going to be problematic because the systemic inequalities do not allow everyone to have the same access to education resulting in a lower test score for Blacks and other visible minorities.
While Ricci may feel discriminated against, there is something to be said for having a fire department that is more ethnically and racially diverse. Firefighters do not solely work in lily white neighbourhoods. Society benefits from diversity in ways that are not easily measured.
What Buchanan and Ricci see as preferential treatment is simply the law correcting for undeserved white privilege. The very idea that allowing for the unique circumstances of people of color amounts to racism against Whites speaks to a denial of the ways in which the system specifically seeks to promote White hegemony in every sphere. The term “reverse racism,” in and of itself speaks to a determination by Whiteness to ensure that racism and discrimination are solely aimed at people of color. The language used is not value neutral though it is projected as such.
Sotomayor is going to apply the law through her own personal frame of reference as a Latina woman. Those that are speaking out against her fail to acknowledge the ways in which the Supreme Court has for the majority of its existence promoted the interests of rich White men because the judges were applying the law based on their frame of reference. In whose interest was the Dredd Scott case decided? Sotomayor is threatening because her body represents what Whiteness and patriarchy fear; a loss of undeserved privilege and an ability to frame their interests and needs as the center of all debates.
As the confirmation process gets underway, we can rest assured that this is just the beginning of the racist and or genderized attacks Sotomayor will undergo. No powerful group has ever seceded power willingly and therefore white males shall sound the rallying cry to ensure that the potential first Latina woman on the US Supreme Court is aware of their priorities. They have already challenged her qualifications and her intelligence. Some have gone as far as to suggest that she only made the “short list” because of her race and her gender. I would be very interested in seeing the college transcripts and resumes of her detractors because it is quite clear that one does not rise from poverty to graduate Suma Cum Laude from Yale without being of above average intelligence.
The lack of intelligence smear is strikingly similar to that thrown at President Barack Obama. Despite all of his achievements, conservative fundies continue to refer to his so-called lack of intelligence, and or reliance on a teleprompter; conveniently forgetting the C student president (read: Bush) has left the country in shambles. These kinds of arguments prove that even when we beat them at their own game and set a standard of excellence, it is denied simply because Whiteness cannot tolerate the idea that person of color still has the ability to succeed despite the purposeful roadblocks thrown our way. Intelligence has historically been understood as the preserve of the white male elite and to accept that a Latina woman is not only capable but exceeds excellence is to admit that the hierarchy on which American society has been founded is false. Sotomayor represents change and this above all else is what is so threatening about her existence.