Cosby and Kavanaugh: Mapping race, sex, and power in 2018

Clarence Thomas: Black man accused by black woman of sexual assault is exonerated and appointed to the Supreme Court.

Bill Cosby: Black man accused by white woman of sexual assault is sent to prison.

Brett Kavanaugh: White man accused by white woman of sexual assault is exonerated and appointed to the Supreme Court.

The experiences of the three women referenced here are not the same. The specifics of the accusations leveled against these three men also vary. Yet, I still have to look at these three cases together. Bill Cosby sentenced to prison and Brett Kavanaugh, the Supreme Court nominee, accused of sexually assault, in the same week. And it’s impossible to talk about Brett Kavanaugh without referencing Clarence Thomas, who, 27 years ago, was appointed to the Supreme Court despite being accused of committing sexual assault. The Kavanaugh/Ford hearing mirrors the political theater of the Thomas/Hill hearing in many disturbing ways.

Yet what stands out to me in comparing these three cases is the element of race. Of these three cases, the only time the man was held responsible for his actions was in the case of a black man accused by a white woman of sexual assault (Bill Cosby). Historically, this is the narrative of rape in the United States; this has been the go-to excuse for the murder of Emmett Till and the lynchings of so many other black men. I am in no way defending Cosby for his acts, which were despicable and for which he should be held responsible. But I can’t help but notice that among all the women who accused Bill Cosby of sexual assault, many of whom were women of color, the only woman whose accusation led to his conviction was a white woman.

Meanwhile, Anita Hill’s 1991 testimony against Clarence Thomas did not prevent him from receiving a seat on the highest court in this nation. Despite Thomas’ claims that he underwent a “high-tech lynching,” he was nonetheless appointed the the Supreme Court, where he sits to this day. Given the historical politics of race and gender in this country, it seems unlikely that Clarence Thomas would have received a Supreme Court appointment had his accuser been a white woman.

Like the testimony of Anita Hill, a black woman, was not enough to overpower Clarence Thomas, it appears the testimony of a white woman, Christine Blasey Ford, is also still not enough to topple the power of white masculinity. Brett Kavanaugh was still appointed to the Court.

It is my belief that it must be possible to locate individuals–men, women, or non-binary-identifying–in this country who are highly qualified to sit on the Supreme Court and who are not sexual predators. Apparently, it is not in the interest of those who hold power in this country to appoint these individuals to the Court.

But let’s not start bemoaning that we are living in a broken system. This system is doing exactly what it was designed to do. Let us recall that the founding fathers, like Brett Kavanaugh, were wealthy, privileged white men. Let us recall that they designed a system of checks and balances in order to uphold the rights of wealthy, white men to control the entire workings of this nation. Let us further recall that some of these men were themselves sexual predators and slaveholders. A government designed to place wealthy, white men in positions of lifelong power in this nation and giving them the power to continue to uphold their own interests and the expense of women and people of color, and especially women of color, is doing exactly what it was designed to do, some two centuries later.

I would like to live in a nation where women who experience sexual assault and violence can find justice, no matter their race or the race of the perpetrator. It seems unlikely that a Kavanaugh appointment will be a forward step on this path.

Casa News: Happy 4th of July!

It’s Independence Day and although I have enough of critiques of the U.S. to more than fill this blog, I still appreciate the chance to take a day to watch some fireworks, eat a hot dog and celebrate the summertime. Coming right up: what’s in the news and what I’m thinking about this week.

The horror: get out and vote or this Boston Globe fake cover page imagining a Trump-run USA might become reality.

A feminist reflection on gender and sports by Deandre Levy, a Detroit Lions linebacker. Refreshing and pointed!!

If you want to read a long, wonky article about U.S. v. Texas (the Supreme Court case on DAPA) and what it means, here you go courtesy of the Atlantic.

Protest in the digital age: Syrian refugees listed their campsite on Airbnb.

#OaxacaResiste: In case you missed it, here’s a Democracy Now interview with a member of the Oaxacan teacher’s strike that started after 9 teachers were killed in a police crackdown in the southern Mexican state.

Casa News: What’s Up This Week

Food for thought from the past week.

What’s wrong with liberalism, and what’s right with socialism? Here’s one explanation. This article makes a compelling argument about why we should really value free speech.

Did you hear about the Panama Papers?!? The release of these documents implicates world leaders and other rich and powerful people offshore tax avoidance. This piece explains the sketchy operations of offshore companies in real estate. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised that this is happening, but it’s still so disappointing. Wealth is not disconnected from poverty. The more the extremely wealthy hold on to and conceal their money, the more income inequality increases, to the detriment of everyone else.

Latin America and the presidential race: This weekend, Residente of awesome Puerto Rican rap group Calle 13 gave a speech at a Bernie Sanders rally that called out U.S. colonialism in Latin America. It’s worth watching. Whether or not you agree with this speech and/or Bernie Sanders, it’s really important that issues of Latin American sovereignty get raised and heard in this country, given our oversized influence on the region.

Voting rights: The Supreme Court unanimously upheld the principle of equal representation.

Here’s a short piece about what it’s like to visit the U.S.-Mexico border.

Pope Francis doing more good things. Yes, it is possible for members of all the world’s religions to come together in mutual respect and understanding, and thank you, Pope Francis, for standing up and saying so.