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Granola Grannies and Affirmative Action
Three of the Supreme Court's most colorful gals explain why diversity, not competence, is our greatest strength.
This past Wednesday, I had lunch with The Supreme Court’s Granola Grannies: Justices Ketanji Brown-Jackson, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagen. We met at the Church’s Chicken between the Deanwood Metro Station and the Louis Farrakhan Center for Anti-Semitic Studies on West MLK Blvd in one of Washington DC’s strongest neighborhoods (diversity is our strength, and since the diversity of a population is primarily measured by the ratio of nonwhites to whites, this neighborhood is extremely diverse and, therefore, unbelievably strong).
“I am really digging the hip-hop vibes of this Church’s Chicken establishment!” shouted Justice Kagen at me as I walked in. “It’s so authentic! Thanks for suggesting it!”
“I find you in contempt of court, though,” said Ketanji Brown-Jackson with a wry grin. “You are 15 minutes late, and you have made me sit here for two whole minutes waiting on you, just smelling all that good chicken, and I am soooo hungry!”
I held up my arm, turned my wristwatch towards her, and offered a propitiating smile. “Sorry, KJ, I guess I’m on colored-people time.”
She groaned and shook her head. “That is so offensive.”
“Sorry,” I said. “You know I meant to say ‘people-of-color time.’ I’m on people-of-color time, not colored-people time. Ain’t that right, mi amiga?”
Sonia Sotomayor and I high-fived. “That’s right!”
“Hey Sonia baby, how come you’re considered a person of color, but I’m not?” I asked. “I’m more tan than you are!”
Always quick on her feet, The Court’s wise Latina immediately shot back, “Because I have a non-Anglo appellido.”
“But my last name is also not Anglo!” I fired back.
She put her hand on her hip and wagged her finger. “Yeah, but you do not pronounce your last name with an ethnic flourish, like I do.” She giggled and then said “Sotomayor” several times, getting louder and more melodramatic with each utterance. The last time she said her name, she spent a full 30 seconds just rolling the “r” at the end. She shouted “Sotomayor” like that fútbol announcer yells “¡GOL!”1
“Oh yeah,” I said, laughing. “How silly of me. If I start pronouncing my own last name like that, can I become a ‘person of color’ too?” I was beginning to wonder if I should bring back the “High-Five’n White Guys2 movement” that swept the Pacific Northwest in the late 80s and early 90s, so I could also practice identity politics as a non-rainbow-pride having white man.
After ordering three wings and a biscuit for each of the justices, I opened up my notebook and started asking questions while they waited for their food.
“You’re not going to eat anything?” asked Justice Brown-Jackson, with a look of motherly concern on her face.
“Oh, I ate at KFC before I came here,” I replied. “Too many rat droppings mixed in with the batter here at Church’s. I think their franchise agreements even require a certain percentage of rat droppings be included with every meal. Another thing, I’m pretty sure they have a corporate policy that every Church’s Chicken restaurant has to be within three blocks of Section 8 housing. I think their franchisees are also required to accept food stamps.”
“I wonder if ‘rat droppings’ could be considered vegan?” added Brown-Jackson. “It’s undigested vegetable matter. It doesn’t involve killing an animal or using their milk or anything they create to feed their young. Maybe ‘rat droppings could be a good, vegan-friendly alternative to crickets?”
“Rat droppings aren’t vegan! They’re animal secretions!” shouted Kagen. “Animal secretions of any kind are animal products.”
‘I disagree,” retorted Brown-Jackson, “in this limited instance. Normally, yes, animal secretions are animal products, but fecal matter is distinguishable from all other secretions. With any other secretion, the body secretes the substance only after adding something to it. In the case of feces, the body doesn’t add anything to it; rather, the feces are what remain after the body has taken away what it will use. Unlike all other forms of secretion, feces involves only a taking, not an addition. The animal doesn’t put anything of itself into the dropping. Since rats are vegetarian, the rat droppings would consist purely of vegetable matter. Premises considered, rat droppings are plant products, not animal products, and so they are vegan friendly.”
Elana Kagen jumped to her feet and waved her hands wildly. “You telling me the animal didn’t produce the damn turd when it came out of his body! He secreted it! You hear me? It’s a secretion! The rat produced that secretion! It is not vegan friendly, you slut! Summary judgment awarded to me! You are hereby ordered to admit I’m right and shut the hell up!”
“¡Imbécil!” screamed Sotomayor, pounding the table with both fists. “It’s not a secretion, it’s an excretion! You hear me?! EXCRETION!”
“I don’t give a damn whether it’s a secretion, an excretion, or a Propecian!” yelled Brown-Jackson. “Bitch, you are wrong!”
Just as I was despairing that fisticuffs would soon break out amongst these black-robed Granola Grannies, there appeared, like an angel bearing Manna from heaven, a Church’s Chicken employee named Tyrone Biggums (Pronouns “She/Hers”), with a tray full of wings and biscuits. In an instant, the justices’ rage and rancor melted away, and they started smiling again.
After passing out the wings and biscuits, I put my hand over my mouth and mumbled, “Do you Marxcissist Mavens have any idea who leaked the draft of that abortion decision?”
A mischievous grin flashed across Sotomayor’s face and spread quickly to the other two. “We all did,” said Kagen, giggling.
“Smash the patriarchy,” added Brown-Jackson, with a wink, as she fist-bumped her two comrades on the bench.
“For realz, tho,” said Sotomayor. “I mean, I went through menopause before the Golden Girls did, and I’ve never even had sex, not even when I was married, so it ain’t like I’m gonna be needing an abortion or anything; but I still think it’s such bullshit that men are trying to tell me that I have to have a baby!”
“But you’re not pregnant,” I said.
“Exactly!” she replied. “And I plan to keep it that way.”
“Your Honor, is it possible for you to get pregnant, at this point in your life?” I asked.
“Of course it is!” she snapped. “According to The Science and The Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment, Men can get pregnant!3 And if men can get pregnant, then women can certainly also get pregnant, no matter how old or sexually inactive they are! Like that song in Annie Get Your Gun says, ‘Anything you can do, I can do better! I can do anything better than you!’ So if you can get pregnant, I can get pregnant, and not only that, but I can get pregnant better than you!’”
“I cannot get pregnant,” I said.
“Are you a biologist now?” asked Brown-Jackson. “How do you know you can’t get pregnant? Have you ever tried?”
Sotomayor ignored this interruption and continued explaining why she could still get pregnant and, thus, needed the legal right to have an abortion: “Moreover, The Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 guarantees a woman’s right to get pregnant, regardless of age or post-menopausal status. Thus, if I am subject to the possibility of pregnancy, then I require the legal right to an abortion in order to feel safe in this male-dominated culture.”
Just at that moment, we were loudly interrupted by a fight on the other side of the restaurant. Apparently, Lil’ Tray, a local independent pharmacist, was having a meeting with one of his clients, who happened to also be the manager of this Church’s Chicken. They were disagreeing quite heatedly about the manager’s creditworthiness. After appeals to reason failed, Lil’ Tray resorted to more forceful methods of argument. Fortunately, peace was ultimately restored when the manager decided to get the money Lil’ Tray was requesting out of one of the cash registers.
“I just love the culture here!” said Kagen, as she grinned from ear to ear and tenderly clutched her heart. “So much vibrant expression!”
“So how did you gals get the nickname, ‘Granola Grannies?’” I asked.
Kagen laughed good naturedly and replied, “Well, you know us! We’re the fruits, the flakes, and the nuts of The Court!”
“Don’t you mean, ‘the fruit, the flake, and the nut?’” I asked. Seeing a confused look on her face, I continued, “You know, singular, rather than plural? There’s three of you, so is one of you a fruit, another a flake, and the third a nut? Or are each of you fruity, flaky, and nutty?”
Sotomayor nodded. “Oh yeah, totally. We’re all plenty fruity, flaky, and nutty!”
“Is one of you nuttier than the others?” I asked.
“Definitely, Elena,” said Brown-Jackson. “You heard her trying to argue with me about rat droppings being animal products.”
“Oh, don’t you go bringing up that nonsense again, you whore!” shouted Kagen, pointing threateningly at Brown-Jackson.
Eager to change the subject, I asked about the recently controversial case on affirmative action.
“Affirmative Action worked for me!” yelled Brown-Jackson eagerly.
“#MeToo!” added Sotomayor!
“Though I have not personally benefited from affirmative-action, I am personally invested and committed, as a woman of color, to affirmative action,” said Kagen.
“Bitch, you are white!” shouted Brown-Jackson. “White is NOT a color!”
“First of all, I am not really white; I’m Jewish,” said Kagen. “So my whiteness doesn’t count. I’m more off-white. Second, and more importantly, I am a lesbian. So I’m part of the rainbow, and the rainbow is as colorful as you can get!”
Not to be outdone, Sotomayor began banging on the table4 as she announced, “And I am a woman of color, by virtue of how the ‘R’ gets rolled whenever I say my non-Anglo last name!”
“So you think it’s consistent with the 14th Amendment’s Equal-Protection Clause for people to be treated differently, under the law, based on their race or ethnicity?” I asked.
“Of course!” shrieked Brown-Jackson. “How else can people like me get ahead in this white-supremacist, patriarchal world? Affirmative-action now, affirmative-action tomorrow, affirmative-action forever! In order to defeat racism, we cannot be non-racist, because as Dr. Ibram Kendi proved, everything must be either racist or anti-racist. Thus, non-racism is still racism. We must be anti-racist! And past discrimination by now-dead white people against now-dead black people requires present discrimination by living black people against living white people. Because the only thing that matters when assigning rights and privileges is race!”
“And sexual orientation and gender identity!” shouted Kagen.
“And sexual orientation and gender identity,” agreed Brown-Jackson. “Besides, during Reconstruction, when the 14th Amendment was enacted, the civil-rights laws were passed to help the newly freed slaves, who were black. Those laws had a disparate impact! That proves an intent to discriminate against white people, which is okay, because that’s antiracist. And as Kendi proved, past discrimination requires present discrimination! Congress discriminated in favor of black people then, so that requires that we discriminate in favor of black people today! In other words, when they drafted the 14th-Amendment, they were saying, ‘Treat all Americans equally, but treat black people more equally!’ That’s what ‘Equal Protection’ means: we’re all equal, but black people are more equal than others.”
“Except for the esteemed members of the LGBTQAIMAP+/- Community!” shouted Kagen. “They are even more equal than black people. Of course, a black member of the LGBTQAIMAP+/- community is the most equal of all. Black queer trans women are so holy, many of them have even healed the sick, just by allowing the sacred shadow of their rainbow flag to pass over the afflicted person’s body!”
As the Granola Grannies ate the last of their biscuits and wiped the crumbs from their mouths, I thanked them for their time.
“We’ll have to do this again, really soon!” chirped Kagen. “Maybe next time at a homeless encampment! I always love breaking bread with my fellow people of color!”
“Diversity is our strength!” proclaimed Brown-Jackson. “And just look at all this strength around us! I feel invigorated and renewed and refreshed, just being in the presence of all this strength!”
I looked around me and felt my heart beaming with pride. All around was Joe Brandon’s America, where diversity, rather than competence, is our strength. In one corner of the restaurant, a glassy-eyed man was sifting through a garbage can, looking for scraps of meat and skin still on the discarded chicken bones. A stream of raw sewage was flowing from one of the bathrooms into the hallway and slowly creeping towards the dining room. From the kitchen, a gruff voice was shouting, “Stop fucking her on that prep table! I already told y’all to do that in the breakroom!” And at that moment, a young man wearing a COVID mask and a black beanie burst through the front door, waving an illegal gun with his finger already on the trigger, and announced, “This a muh’fuckin robbery. Gimme yo money out them registers NOW, or I blow yo asses off!”
With all this diversity, America has never been stronger!
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A fútbol announcer yelling ¡GOL!:
A clip of the High Five’n White Guys from the television show Almost Live:
Fight oppression! Fight for the rights of men to have babies! Trans women are women!
An old joke: Before going into court, a senior lawyer says to his junior associate, “Remember, when the facts are on our side, we pound the facts. When the Law is on our side, we pound the Law.” The junior lawyer thought about this and asked what to do when neither the facts nor the Law were on their side. The senior lawyer replied, “In that case, we pound the table!”