Fighting the good fight
22nd October 2012 · 0 Comments
“Although commentators have loudly emphasized them, factors which we do not ascribe any importance to in answering the constitutional question before us include issues of gender, geography, personality, philosophy, political affiliation, and race — all of which have the potential to inflame passion…,”
This is the statement the Louisiana Supreme Court issued after voting to allow Justice Bernette Johnson to ascend to the post of Chief Justice as white Justices have done since there was a state constitution.
It was Civil Rights activist Vernon Johns who said, “If you see a good fight, get in it.”
She didn’t start the fight…
Justice Bernette Johnson was taken by surprise when Chief Justice Catherine Kimball announced six months ago that she would alter the plans of ascension in such a way as to block Johnson from stepping into her place when she retires next year.
The rules were clear. The longest-serving Justice would ascend. Johnson was clearly that. But Johnson is Black, and like the days of overt segregation, there was a different set of rules for those with dark skin.
She did not start the fight. She didn’t want the fight. She just wanted to be treated like all the others before her. But we don’t always get our way, now do we?
But she refused to lie down and get walked on. She refused to pretend that everything was ok.
Bernette Johnson chose to fight.
Because of this she won.
While it was a fight that should not have been fought, it was a fight that needed to be, not just for Justice Johnson, but as an example to folks who are quick to give up when they are wronged than to fight.
It needed to happen to put the lie to the notion of a “post-racial” America.
It needed to happen because it lit a fire that created a broad-based coalition that now stands ready to take on other issues and the evil of injustice in general.
It needed to happen because know any institution that even thinks about mistreating a Black person will have to consider the consequences.
It needed to happen to show that “right” can win, but only if it puts up its dukes and fights. Bernette Johnson is a fighter and a great role model for our children.
In the end Justice Bernette Johnson’s win was a victory for everyone, even her opponents, for they now have the benefit of living in a state that has partially redeemed its time-warped, corrupt, racist, antebellum image.
This article was originally published in the October 22, 2012 print edition of The Louisiana Weekly newspaper