Ketanji Brown Jackson Reminds Me That Black Women Always Have to Be Damn Near Perfect
Michelle Obama knows it all too well.
There’s a reason why she traded powerful pantsuits for feminine sheath dresses as soon as she became First Lady, and why we are only now seeing her wear her natural hair more regularly. After a gaffe about being proud of her country, and being chastised for her humbling remarks about her husband and commentary on what it’s like being married to him, not to mention talk of a “terrorist fist jab” and being called an “ape in heels” and “angry”, she had to tone down her image in order to be palatable to the American populace — a palate more used to blandness than it was to Blackness.
They did it to Kamala Harris.
Despite a fly making a home on his head, Mike Pence continued to interrupt Harris during the Vice Presidential debates, to the point where she had to ever-so gently, but sternly (and with a smile!), remind the former Vice President several times that she had the floor and that she was indeed, “speaking.” Many noted the tightrope she had to walk at that moment as potentially the nation’s first Black, Asian and female Vice President.
“Harris’ face flashed a catalogue of looks in his direction that seemed to communicate irritation, disbelief and distaste all at once, the kind of repertoire developed when one often cannot say everything one thinks,” wrote Janell Ross, MSNBC News.
We who are female and ebony-hued all recognize why she couldn’t have actually said what was on her mind and say it in the way she wanted to say it, as Michele Norris explains:
“If Harris had raised her voice in those moments, she would have been labeled shrill. If she had frowned, she would have been labeled a scold. If she had raised a hand, she would have been called angry or even unhinged.
“So she smiled as she held her ground —…