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