MOSF 17.5: Meditation on the Ascension of Ketanji Brown Jackson, April 9, 2022

Memoirs of a Superfan Vol 17.5: Meditation on the Ascension of Ketanji Brown Jackson, April 9, 2022

By Ravi Chandra. Posted on April 9, 2022

Official portrait of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ketanji_Brown_Jackson_(robe_photo).jpg
H2rty, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

I cried twice last night; I should cry more often.

Once, for civilians and children killed by Russian invaders in Ukraine. And again, while watching Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s acceptance remarks on the South Lawn of the White House. This morning I am tingling with joy because she is in the world, rising high. I feel safer, more at peace than I have in a long time. I’m riding a crest of emotion, a relief and release from my depths, an upwelling of so much that I’ve been sitting on for I don’t know how long. I wonder if this might be as big as or bigger than Barack’s election.

And then I fear backlash. Will it be backlash or exultation or normalization…

I feel a lump in my throat and tingles all over my body, all at once. I feel a measure of deliverance, and think of all Black people, ancestors and founders and downtrodden, who are gathered in this moment, this moment that the “hope and dream of the slave” (in the words of Maya Angelou, channeled by Jackson) is fulfilled. Or at least one beautiful tip of that great dream of liberation, equality and justice as revealed in the countenance of Judge, soon-to-be-Justice, Ketanji Brown Jackson.

How could I not do more, commit to doing more? There’s so much more to do.

In the midst of my meditation I get into a lengthy text exchange with a patient in relationship crisis, feeling misunderstood, judged and attacked. This is the state of the world, to a T. He is not Black, but I write to him, mentioning Ketanji Brown Jackson, “I think what you are feeling is the terror so many people, particularly in this case Black people in this country, feel for someone, especially someone they love, to misunderstand them.” And act on that misunderstanding.

“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good – Oh, Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood…” (In the words of the great Nina Simone.)

Maybe there’s a chance for more understanding in the world now that Ketanji Brown Jackson will be a Justice.

I find myself wishing that all men on the Supreme Court would recuse themselves on matters of abortion, and all Whites would recuse themselves on matters of affirmative action. I wish all those who are heirs to “misunderstanding” vulnerable people would just take a back seat for a good long while.

We need a divorce from power, and a marriage to compassion and understanding.

“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good/Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood.”

(Interaction with patient mentioned with permission.)

For more on the trauma of misunderstanding:

Photo by Bob Hsiang

Ravi Chandra is a psychiatrist, writer and compassion educator in San Francisco, and a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. For fourteen years, he was lucky to have his MOSF posts published by the Center for Asian American Media, and now looks forward to broadening and building a diverse creative community and coalition through reflecting on culture and psychology for East Wind eZine. Sign up for updates here, and see all the posts here. He writes from the metaphorical intersection of The Fillmore and Japantown in San Francisco, where Black and Asian communities have mingled since the end of the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. He literally works there, between two Indian restaurants, go figure, though one has permanently shuttered during COVID. His debut documentary was named Best Film (Festival Director’s Award) at the 2021 Cannes Independent Film Festival. The Bandaged Place: From AIDS to COVID and Racial Justice is available on-demand. His nonfiction debut, Facebuddha: Transcendence in the Age of Social Networks, won the 2017 Nautilus Silver Award for Religion/Spirituality of Eastern Thought. You can find him on Psychology Today,  TwitterFacebook,  Instagram,  YouTube,  SoundCloud, or better yet, in the IRL.

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