This week we watched history unfold: the confirmation of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson to the United States Supreme Court.
She is the first African American woman in United States history to reach this position. It has taken a long time, considering the Supreme Court is a 232-year old institution.
When the news alert ‘dinged’ on my phone announcing this confirmation, I got chills. It is hard to put into words the feeling of hope, pride and encouragement I felt in that moment!
For many African Americans, the confirmation is especially affirming, after watching the confirmation hearings. Seeing and hearing the level of disrespect towards Judge Brown Jackson from so many elected lawmakers - primarily old white men - was beyond disheartening.
The key word here is old. Typically I don’t use that word but in this case, it is fitting. This generation of policy-makers are part of a growing segment of the population who will need health-care support services as they age. Party affiliation nor skin color stops the march of time.
To witness such lack of respect makes me question these lawmakers' commitments to policies which impact elders, thousands who don’t look like them. I can't help but wonder, 'Is there a similar lack of regard or care when it comes to how decisions are made and if all Americans are being considered?'
Watching the confirmation hearings hurt my heart on so many levels. It was exhausting and discouraging. Just when one believes society is turning a corner towards greater equity and fairness - the words and actions of those lawmakers seemed to indicate otherwise.
Why and what does this have to do with caregiving? More than you might think.
For those who are now all ‘twisted-up’ believing that somehow the appointment of an African American woman to the U.S. Supreme Court equals the erosion of a patriarchal system led by white men - think again.
The reality is much different when it comes to the day-to-day challenges for families and elders (of all backgrounds) in our country. However, across the spectrum of care, research supports that people of color remain at many social, economic and health disadvantages.
Ironically, at the same time word of Judge Jackson’s confirmation was blasting across news platforms, KIRC was taking part in a training session with the American Society on Aging.
In one moment, I was feeling elation knowing that finally - someone who looks like me - has a seat at the table of the highest court in the land.
In the next moment, I was reading through a new 36-page research-driven report from the National Caucus and Center on Black Aging, Inc.
The report, Black and Aging in America, paints a grim picture of our health care metrics, and pretty much every other associated support service impacting health for people of color.
Here’s just one paragraph from the findings:
Sigh... and that is just the tip of the iceberg.
I urge you to check out the full report to have a better understanding of why it is so important to get involved and educate yourself BEFORE a crisis hits.
It is not just African Americans facing health hurdles, nor is it only here in the United States.
In Ottawa, there have been ongoing complaints from a facility caring for Inuit elders.
So yes, this week was a triumph - of sorts. It was also another wake-up call that there is still much work to be done.
Ready to roll up your sleeves? Keeping it REAL Caregiving will be attending the American Society on Aging Conference coming up in New Orleans. Look for live reports on social media and regular updates on news and information from the conference, throughout the week!
Until next time~
*Header Image: WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 22: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson testifies on her nomination to become an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court during the Senate Judiciary confirmation hearing on Capitol Hill March 22, 2022 in Washington, DC. Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, President Joe Biden's pick to replace retiring Justice Stephen Breyer on the U.S. Supreme Court, will begin four days of nomination hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee. If confirmed by the Senate, Judge Jackson would become the first Black woman to serve on the Supreme Court. (Photo by Mandel Ngan-Pool/Getty Images)*