Thus far, there are no surprises in the Sonia Sotomayor confirmation hearings. Unfortunately, that is the problem.
Two things are abundantly clear: many people remain ignorant on the historical legacy of race and racism in the United States; and many people continue to cling to the privilege of white supremacy by absolving themselves of personal, racial ideologies and ways of knowing while exercising the same.
Republicans don’t seem to have much when it comes to actual legal decisions she has made. In sum, she’s hardly a flaming liberal in the record of the court and, on top of that, she practices what is considered to be a fair and impartial method by legal standards.
So what do they do?
They try to make her out to be a racist and an “activist” judge because she once suggested people working in the law might think differently because of their ethnic background and life experience.
To deny that is not only ahistorical, it is also perfectly produced by history. It is a denial rooted in white supremacy.
What else is it when a bunch of white men attack a Latina judge for being racist when they never questioned once the bold suggestion that a white man was the most qualified in all the nation the previous TWO times an open seat on the court was filled?
What else is it when a bunch of white men assume the uncontroverted final word on what racism is–the overt recognition that race exists–rather than the one grounded in historical experience and forged out of antiracist struggle?
White supremacy rarely acknowledged “whiteness” except when it was confronted with its “opposite.” One of the features of “whiteness” is the very denial of its existence. “White people” don’t have race, that’s what those colored folks have. “Whiteness” is naturalized, the norm, simply what is. All other racial constructions are the aberration, the difference, the problem.
Like the system it produces, white supremacy centers “white” people as the source of what is important and valued.
And that’s exactly what is happening here.