To the Honorable Judge Barrett:

I have watched closely your confirmation hearings. Since we share many similarities — close in age, both living the in Midwest, both educated women with advanced degrees, both white mothers in multiracial families — I began my viewing hopeful.

I lost that hope quickly, when I heard you introduce yourself to us by way of describing of your children. You spoke of your biological children’s intellect, promise, and good genes; at the same time you described Vivian and John Peter in terms of the terrible traumas that they had overcome (with your help, of course). Thank God they had been rescued by you, so that now they could become athletic. Do you understand, Judge Barrett, that this is the very definition of implicit bias, and that Sociology classes for years to come come will use your introductory words to illustrate just how this implicit bias works? That I, too, will use this video in my own church to talk about the downfall of Christianity’s White Savior Complex, which your words also illustrate?

Then, in today’s hearing (10/14/2020), I watched you questioned by Senator Cory Booker, who asked you to share the work you have done to educate yourself about implicit bias in our justice system — what books and articles you have read to educate yourself. I thought Senator Booker was throwing you a slow lob — an easy question that you would hit out of the park. Certainly a mother who’s been raising black children for the past fifteen years would have done her homework during the adoption process. Certainly a law professor at one of our nation’s top law schools would be abreast of the most up-to-date statistics on one of our country’s most important issues for a judge presiding in this time. Imagine my surprise — my horror, really — when you had not a single book or article to cite. I was speechless. How irresponsibly neglectful of you.

Recuse yourself, Judge Barrett, for you are not qualified. I am not speaking professionally — not asking you to recuse from the Court appointment, nor from your bench, nor from your position in academia. I want you to recuse yourself from the role that you might claim as your highest calling — that of being a mother to Vivian and JP. Recuse yourself until such time as which you have educated yourself on both your own biases and savior complex, as well as the role that the justice system will play in exploiting and oppressing your children. Until you do that, you are a negligent parent, and your negligence is endangering your children.

In the June 21, 2020 NYT Non-fiction paperback best sellers list, all of the top 10 books were about race and justice in America.

I reach out to you, as one mother to another. As a white mother trying my best to raise a black son in America in 2020, I have tried to learn everything I can. After fifteen years of study, I feel I am just scratching the surface of what I need to learn. So I implore you: please educate yourself on this important issue. Do as much research as you can. In the week’s that followed George Floyd’s death the New York Times Best Seller’s list was packed with books to read — you can start there. All of these books will give you insight into your own bias, and how that bias affects your ability to judge and the effects it could have on our justice system. Of course, this education won’t matter for your appointment. You will be appointed to the highest court in the land whether or not you take the time to educate yourself on how our justice system is systemically biased. It might make you a more thoughtful judge, but you will get the seat either way. Do the research anyway. Because even though it won’t matter for the appointment, it will absolutely matter for the way you parent your children. It will give you greater empathy and understanding of how they move through the world. So please, educate yourself on the racial biases that are harming our country — your children’s lives depend on it. Coincidentally, so does the soul of our nation.

Reverend Cathy M. Kolwey

Norwood Young America, MN

14 thoughts on “An Open Letter to Amy Coney Barrett

  1. Dear ❤! Thank you for your honesty and openness. My heart hurts for those innocent children. I’m black and I know that she can’t confer her white priveledge onto her children.


    1. Maddie, thank you. My heart hurts as well, that anyone is this world might choose to remain ignorant to their own biases. Thank you for reading and for reaching out.
      Much love to you, Jaddie.


  2. For qualifications seem to be being a mother. her nomination seems to be able to advance without her having to answer a single question directly.


  3. Our family received the great gift of life when my daughter and her husband adopted a biracial girl…. she is the best and most precious gift to us all she loves us and she is a wonderful and talented young lady….. we could not be more thankful and have loved her more. The kids in my daughters class have said she is being raised white???


    1. Biracial children (as my son is) often face the harshest criticisms of all… they are rejected by the white community for being black, and can be rejected by the black community for acting too white. I say this not as an expert, but reflecting upon the own experiences I’ve had with my son. Keep encouraging your daughter and her husband to do the best they can, and to expose her to as many different perspectives as possible.

      We are all trying our best, and we all fail sometimes. We still need to keep going.

      Much love to your family.


  4. Did you notice the knees of her young Black daughter? Is she their maid cleaning the floors? Why not put cream on them? I feel horrible for both of those Haitian children.


    1. Oh Tory, I did not notice that, but I certainly will go back to take note. My son suffers from ashy/eczema skin… so I certainly know that the struggle it real! We slather up his knees just to get to soccer practice.

      I share your concerns for her adoptive children as well. Thanks for responding. ❤️


  5. Thank you for this letter.
    My husband and I are raising a sibling group who are Ojibwa. Never was there talk about Indigenous people in the hearings. So much work to be done.
    We live in rural Sacred Heart, MN


  6. Dear Judge Barrett, as an educated white privileged woman, generous and kind, I believe from your story, you have a chance to influence your colleagues on the Supreme Court, if you are confirmed. Influence that as a women who will move us forward taking advantage of all Judge RBG accomplished that have changed the country in so many ways. You also have the chance to examine your racial bias and understand where it comes from so that you may better raise the children you adopted out of kindness with equality and justice for all no matter race, sexuality, class or political beliefs.

    You also are educated enough to understand the psychology of machismo and what this has done to our society – that the God you profess to worship is a God of love that represents equality of all persons, that this is where your commitment lies. You mus t represent love, walk humbly with God and decide,
    Knowing , even though, the constitution is our law, above all it represents a document man written and you must Judge by love!! If you cannot do this, you should recuse yourself.
    Rev. Bárbara de Souza


  7. Cathy, I was so impressed with your article about Justice Barrett in today’s Tribune. As the white father of a biracial daughter and grandfather of twin biracial granddaughters, you brought up issues so critical to understanding living as a black person in our country and world today. Clearly, Ms. Barrett appears to have grown up in a shell, and she is raising her children the same way. When Mr. Floyd was killed, she discussed how Vivian was rightfully distraught and she cried with her daughter. I must say that having been a Psychologist for over 40 years of my life, we must educate ourselves about raising our minority children. As you stated, you must read a great deal about minorities growing up in our country, and the terrible racism that exists even today. Each day, Ms. Barrett’s children marched in to the Senate Hearings like little robots. I agree with you that Judge Barrett has failed as a parent, and as a judge. Thank you for having written such an important letter!


  8. The toughless way in which you have treated your children in the past stands for itself. You will only duplicate that same behavior toward all the children of color of this Country. Please Recuse yourself.


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