Keep The Fire For Justice Burning
It is with a heavy heart that I write to you today. Twenty-seven years ago, my co-founder, Luke Harris, and I sat on the Supreme Court steps as Clarence Thomas was confirmed to replace the Civil Rights giant Thurgood Marshall. It was a very close vote that, like today’s confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh, went down to the wire. Yet the closeness of the vote would not match the magnitude of that fateful decision. Despite the fact that Thomas had won the support of the majority of our fellow African Americans, we knew then that his 5th vote would alter Supreme Court doctrine on racial justice, and would shape the rest of our lives. And it has.
Luke and I committed then and there to put everything we had into the fight against the anti-civil rights vision that Clarence Thomas represented. The African American Policy Forum (AAPF) grew directly out of that moment, and we are proud that through research, advocacy, and the arts, our organization continues to carry forward our social justice vision grounded in structural equity and intersectionality.
We are mindful that today’s confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh reignites the profound sadness, despair and outrage for many of us. In the face of the rising awareness of MeToo, and the political activation of so many survivors, we understand yet again the bitter disappointment that many of us have in those who we would expect to stand in solidarity with us who actually made this confirmation process possible.
Yet let us not lose sight of the reality that this confirmation can create a groundswell of activism that makes new things possible for those of us committed to social justice. As 1992’s election cycle revealed, the righteous outrage that so many of us felt after Anita Hill was so completely disregarded created a wave of protests that sent an unprecedented number of women into politics. Some have continued to carry the fight forward even now. We can turn this defeat into victory if we harness every bit of disappointment about this flawed process, the sham FBI investigation, the rush toward confirmation, and the disregard of legitimate concerns about Kavanaugh’s temperament and truthfulness into action. We must ride this disappointment to create new narratives, new representatives and new ways of connecting our past to our present. We must not only meet that bar of political mobilization that we saw in 1992, however, we must raise it by encouraging leadership from the margins that will shift the tide.
We rose from the depths of despair to create a sustainable presence in the social justice world, and we know that this moment will be similarly generative for allies across the country. One thing is abundantly clear: across our issues and organizations, we must work together like never before in the coming days to repair our democracy, resist hate and fear, and send a message that antiracism, feminism and all related forms of discrimination are not casualties of mob rule.
We at AAPF are recommitting ourselves to ensure that while we may have lost this battle, we will not lose this war. Please stand with us.
Kimberlé Crenshaw & the AAPF Team