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Unrealistic Expectations for Judge Jackson Signal a Lack of Racial Progress

Activist Matthew Kincaid Says, "Unrealistic Expectations for Judge Jackson Signal a Lack of Racial Progress"

How does the nomination of a Black woman to one of our nation's highest political positions point to a lack of racial progress? The answer lies in the reaction to Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson's potential confirmation.

Many are already patting themselves on the back and leaving "Black Lives Matter" in the hands of the Supreme Court's next associate justice. Unfortunately, these unrealistic expectations concerning her impact on cases involving people of color draw attention to a system still in dire need of change.

I would hope every justice on the supreme court educated themselves on issues of race, gender, sexuality, and ability. If every judge used that education to further justice and lead us away from the years our nation's court was heavily responsible for maintaining oppressive systems, we would not be pinning all our hopes on one Black woman. Having people of color exist in places of power is important; changing the policies that govern those places of power is transformational.


Judge Jackson's Nomination Comes During a Critical Time for Racial Progress

On the heels of the pandemic's focus on racial inequity, our nation faces a pivotal moment. Progress in eliminating racism has never been smooth or linear.

Historically, times of significant racial progress in the United States have been followed by extreme racial backlash. For example, right after slavery's abolition came the invention of Jim Crow. The Civil Rights Act ushered in the counterintelligence program with its dismantling of freedom movements. A spike in public acceptance of white supremacy was followed by the election of a Black president.

We face a swell of backlash spawned by 2020's racial advocacy movement. With the invention of Critical Race Theory in the '70s, why is it that we've only heard politicians care about it in the last year? If we fail to remain vigilant, we will lose all of the hard-won progress made during the pandemic. We will find ourselves fighting the same battles for racial justice at our schools, companies, and polls that activists have already fought for and won in the past.

In this dangerous period of racial backlash, damaging policies are being passed across the country that seeks to limit people of color's access to the polls, anti-racism education, and even peaceful protest. These are battles we cannot afford to lose.

Will the Black Lives Matter Movement Bring Backlash or Positive Change?

The Black Lives Matter movement is not in our rear-view mirror. In reality, this movement is the extension of the perpetual fight for racial justice that Black people have engaged in since we were brought to this country.

The question facing us today is whether that movement will bring backlash or positive change. We have seen progress, but if we fail to push the conversation about systems that target people of color and fix those systems through policy interventions, neither my life nor the lives of the young black people who come after me will be positively affected.

Will Judge Jackson Change the Criminal Justice System?

Judge Jackson cannot single-handedly bring change to the criminal justice system. Expecting Black women to save institutions or communities while failing to hold their white counterparts to the same standard exacerbates the problem rather than solving it. When white justices are forced to contend with issues of race the way that Judge Jackson is being forced to, we will see positive change. When all judges are expected to use their power to maintain the constitutionality of legislation that eliminates racial oppression, we will see signs of hope.

For anyone who said, "Black Lives Matter," wore a shirt, put a sign in their yard, posted on social media, or attended a protest, now is the time to speak up. We face a critical moment that will determine just how much this country believes that Black lives matter.

The current laws targeting education about race and systemic racism, banning books, and outlawing conversations about race and history in schools are some of the most dangerous laws passed in the history of our country. They threaten all we have gained in terms of racial progress and racial harmony.

If systemic racism is like a virus, education about the system, how it operates, and how we can overcome that system is the closest thing we have to a vaccine or a cure. Laws that ban education on race are equivalent to laws that prohibit a sick person from taking lifesaving medicine. Now is not the time to be complacent.

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More about Matthew:

Matthew Kincaid, a former social studies teacher, and school administrator is now the founder, CEO, and Chief Consulting officer of the non-profit, Overcoming Racism. Kincaid is currently the co-chair of the truth and reconciliation committee for the human relations commission serving the city of New Orleans and an Amaphiko Social Entrepreneurship Fellow.

In 2018 he was recognized as one of “100 Visionary Leaders” for Real Leaders Magazine in addition to receiving the “Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award” for the state of Louisiana from the U.S Small Business Administration. In 2019, Kincaid was the recipient of Gambit’s 40 under 40 recognition. Matthew is a graduate of Tufts University and a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc.


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