What’s the Use of Crying (Over Supreme Court Hearings)

By Sallie Krawcheck

I don’t cry very often. You don’t get very far on Wall Street, where I spent my career before Ellevest, as a crier. But there’s just something about Supreme Court nominations that brings out the waterworks in me.

During Brett Kavanaugh’s hearing, listening to Dr. Christine Blasey Ford give her testimony about him, I remember sitting in the Chicago airport, between flights, and watching it on my phone. I cried. I watched other women bear witness … and also cry. 

The tissues came out again last week for Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s Senate confirmation hearings. The proceedings seesawed between infuriating exchanges and heart-swelling moments of clarity:

That Washington Post infographic that shows just how much more qualified she is than every other current Justice? Jaw-dropping.

Her long pause — and all the weight in it — when asked by Ted Cruz if babies could be racist? I held my breath. (Antiracist Baby and Stamped (For Kids) are worth a read, by the way — and now both are back on the bestseller list.)

That iconic photo of her daughter watching her testify? (Just read this essay from the young Black woman who took it.) I just can’t.

The way she felt the need to apologize to her daughters, on the record, for not getting the work-life balance right? You know I felt that one.

And the juxtaposition — with a meme, of course — between Justice Kavanaugh’s snarls, sneers, and tears, and Judge Jackson’s composure. The gulf between what’s expected of Black women in comparison to white men is massive. 

That single tear the nominee shedwhen Cory Booker told her that she was worthy — said so much.

I think what really gets me has to do with the bittersweetness of these moments — the inspiration with the indignity, the historic with the inane, the look-how-far-we’ve-come mixed with the look-what-we-still-have-to-deal-with. It’s a lot to take in. (And that’s just me — I can’t imagine what it must have felt like for Black women watching.)

Yesterday, Senate Republicans succeeded in delaying the confirmation vote that was supposed to happen this week, and several have already announced that they’ll vote against confirming the most qualified Supreme Court nominee in American history when the vote does come up (it’s now scheduled for April 4). 

None of this is surprising, but at the same time, it’s a good reminder that progress is never easy or clean, and there’s always more work to be done — so having a bit of a cry about it now and again? These days, maybe that’s how we know we’re still human enough to keep fighting.

Tearing up about the right things,

Sallie Krawcheck Signature


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Sallie Krawcheck

Sallie Krawcheck is the Co-Founder & CEO of Ellevest. Her life’s mission is to help women to reach their financial and professional goals.