Persevere: A gift from Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson

Whitney Alese
4 min readMar 25, 2022
Supreme Court Nominee Ketanji Brown Jackson tearing up at her Supreme Court Nomination Hearing

It had been a long week for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson. And it was only Wednesday.

The Supreme Court nominee had been battered for hours since Monday of the week. What can only be imagined as nerve wracking anxiety of sitting before Members of Congress for up to 10 hours each day was only made worse by the political grandstanding, misogynoir, and racism Judge Jackson was made to endure on the public stage. Political theater at its cruelest.

Her stellar record, abundant qualifications, and numerous recommendations all coming under fire as select members of Congress used this hearing, one that was meant to explore her knowledge and experience as a Judge, as a chance for sound bites to pander to their bases, to discredit her or paint her as an activist with a “hidden agenda”, or perhaps for material for their potential Presidential run. Or to express, in their own way, that she, and by proxy, people like her did not belong here, did not deserve this Supreme Court seat she was mere votes from.

Whatever the case, after the dust had settled, Judge Jackson sat in the same seat where she sat the previous two days. Not enraged nor stoic as previous Supreme Court Nominees had been. Judge Jackson sat, back straight, hands clasped on the table before her, having politely avoided persistent and absurd questions about “racist babies”, Critical Race Theory, the definition of a woman, previous Supreme Court nomination hearings, while she even taught a few civics lessons to these elected officials whom anyone would expect to know and understand civics well. And those were when she was allowed to answer questions at all.

Then, California Senator Alex Padilla used his time to ask Judge Jackson, on behalf of our nation’s youth “What do you say to some of them who may doubt that they can one day achieve the same great heights that you have.”

“I appreciate the opportunity to speak to young people,” Judge Jackson responded with a smile. “I appreciate it very much. I do it a lot for the reasons that you have articulated. I hope to inspire people to try to follow this path because I love this…

Whitney Alese

Whitney Alese is a writer & podcaster, featured in WIRED Magazine (Sept 2020) & I-D Magazine (Dec. 2021), and NBC (Jan 2023). She is based in Philadelphia.