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Op-Ed: The Inescapable Exhaustion of Being the “First” Black Woman by BGG Founder A'shanti Gholar

February 25, 2022 began like most days, quiet and mundane. But as I headed to the dentist that Friday morning, my phone started chiming nonstop with text alerts: Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson had become the first Black woman nominated to the Supreme Court. Like many Black women across the country, I’d been waiting with anticipation for President Biden to name his pick to fill the vacancy Justice Breyer had left on the Court. Fast-forward to today, as the Senate Judiciary Committee begins its confirmation hearings for Jackson.

Our nation’s highest court has never benefited from the perspective of a Black woman and this wasn’t set to change until recently. In the 232 years since the Supreme Court first convened in 1790, 115 justices have served on the bench. Of those, two have been Black men, four have been white women, and one, a Latina woman of color. That’s 108 white men. Having worked as a political strategist and activist for more than 15 years, I applaud Biden’s efforts to diversify the courts and celebrate Jackson’s historic nomination. But I’m also hyperaware that we still have a long way to go in terms of representation in our government. Honestly, a “long way to go” is even a bit of an understatement.

Right now, there are no Black women in the U.S. Senate. None. There’s never even been a Black woman governor. Even more alarming, only 7% of all mayors in the top 100 most populous cities in the U.S. identify as Black women. Too often we are excluded from the decision-making rooms that impact us the most. We are living in a country with a representational government that does not actually reflect its people.

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