For every woman of color who watched the hearing today, or has followed any of the drama up to this point, our backs are heavy.
We sit here and watch accommodations made for Christine Blasey Ford, who bravely went up before a predominantly white and male Senate Judiciary Committee to testify regarding the sexual assault allegations against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. Prior to the hearing, Ford had been discredited publicly by some of the members.
But she was given a smaller courtroom, due to her anxiety struggles. Many acknowledged her being terrified. Rachel Mitchell, the sex crimes expert hired by Republicans to question Ford, said she was sorry, and that it should not be like that.
Ford was given breaks in the four-hour portion of the hearing, given coffee and soda to help wake up her brain. She was acknowledged by senators for her bravery and received pledges to do whatever they could to get her a fair investigation. She was asked about how her family was handling all of this. The questions asked considered her trauma.
Ford received an apology from the chairman — the very same man who publicly discredited her weeks ago — and promised accommodations to make her feel comfortable. She was told that she was believed.
It was a hopeful to watch.
But for many Black women, it was a point to ask: why didn’t this happen for Anita Hill What is rarely acknowledged are the backs of Black women who were first trampled on before a woman like Ford could sit there and receive the treatment she did. And there’s still room for improvement. But it’s always us first — we pave the way.
In 1991, Hill’s character was annihilated by a room full of white men, some of who were undoubtedly racist and sexist, when she testified against Clarence Thomas for sexual harassment. Hill was degraded with questions from senators about whether or not she was “a scorned woman or a militant, relative to the era of civil rights.”
Militant That term was often used to refer to Blacks who stood up for basic human rights (mind you went through slavery, discrimination, lynchings, etc.).
No one gave her specifics on the hearing to help her prepare for a long day. She was suffering with a medical condition, which made it uncomfortable to sit for long periods of time. Hill was, literally, in pain during the hearing that lasted all day.
To further isolate her, many Blacks were upset with her testifying because a high position for a Black man was at stake.
And often, as Black women do, we remain dedicated to what is right and just, even when we’re in pain, even when we get spit on, beat up, and some even have their reputation unjustly dragged through the mud.
Without an Anita Hill, there wouldn’t be support for Christine Blasey Ford. Without a Tarana Burke, who started the #MeToo movement, there wouldn’t be an Alyssa Milano, who many think created the movement.
But, instead of getting bitter, Black women take it in stride, pick up the pieces and keep fighting for what’s right.
That is what we’ve always done.