By: Roy Douglas Malonson
It always comes down to race. Out of all the examples Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito could have used, he decided to joke about Black kids dressing up as the Ku Klux Klan and Black Santa.
It all started because of a case about a web designer who doesn’t want to work on same-sex weddings because of her religious beliefs. Lorie Smith of Colorado is seeking to be exempt from a Colorado law that forbids discrimination “on the basis of sexual orientation in public accommodations.” Smith, who is a Christian, sued the state back in 2016 questioning the basis of the First Amendment.
The scenario of Black Santa and kids dressed up in KKK outfits was derived from Supreme Court Justice Kentanji Brown Jackson’s hypothetical scenario. She proposed a scenario where a business at the mall is offering pictures with Santa that focused on a particular era. In order to perfect this area, Justice Brown Jackson mentioned how only White kids would be allowed to take pictures with Santa and that the business will gladly refer families of color to the Santa at the other end of the mall who will take anybody.”
Justice Alito went off of this example and took it up a notch and asked if Black Santa at the mall is inclined to take a picture with a child dressed up in a Ku Klux Klan outfit. Justice Elena Kagan chimed in about if the same would apply regardless if the child was White or Black, or any additional characteristics. Justice Alito then said, “You do see a lot of Black children in Ku Klux Klan outfits, right? All the time.” He also mentioned another hypothetical scenario that involved Jewish people.
We can understand why the scenarios were used and Justice Brown Jackson’s scenario was appropriate, but Justice Alito took it too far. When have you ever seen Black kids dressed up as the Ku Klux Klan? And knowing the historic background of what the KKK represents and the things they have done, why would you even use this as an example? It’s insensitive and downright inappropriate.
Founded as a terrorist organization towards the end of the United States Civil War (1865), the KKK used fear tactics against African Americans who were free. The main purpose of the KKK was to push White Supremacy as the “political and social” order for the south. There were rights that were put in place to protect African Americans, but the KKK did whatever they could to strip those rights away through violence. The KKK would beat, lynch, burn crosses, bomb places, terrorize the homes of African Americans, and so much more.
The mission of the KKK was accomplished with the creation of the Jim Crow Laws (1875-1965) that made segregation legal.
Justice Alito, who is known as a conservative wrote the majority opinion that overturned Roe v. Wade case this past summer. It is not surprising that the conservative Justice would make such remarks or feel a certain way, but that does not make it right. This is one of the reasons why this country will remain stagnant and divided.
This is one example of why history is so important. We must teach our kids about slavery, racism, discrimination, and the KKK. It is important so that when comments such as these are made, they will understand why it is wrong. They will understand the historic pain that lies behind the comments. We also need to teach our kids about respecting each other’s differences, and that even though bad things were done to our race and culture, we don’t have to be angry and carry that anger with us every day of our life. Teach them about the history, but make sure they understand that just because the past was that way, it doesn’t mean that the present or the future has to be that way. We must teach them to process the information in a healthy manner that allows them to adequately express how they feel, but more so allows them to function in a world that may not like them because of the color of their skin.
In this life or another, we will always have race issues. It is what help set the foundation of this country. This country was built by “We the People,” and was never built for Black people. We live in a nation that tolerates our skin but doesn’t fully accept it. In the words of Malcom X, “You can’t separate peace from freedom because no one can be at peace unless he has his freedom.” We will never be at peace as race because we will never be free from our skin color and the judgement that has come with it.