She wrote: “The n-word is an egregious racist epithet. Even so, Smith cannot simply win by proving the word was pronounced. He must also demonstrate that Colbert's use of the word altered the terms of his employment and created a hostile or abusive work environment. "
And she essentially managed to hold Smith responsible for being fired because of his "poor track record". Barrett wrote, “Of course, Smith testified that his time in the department was psychologically stressful. But that was for reasons that preceded his meeting with Colbert and had nothing to do with his race. His tenure in the department was difficult from the start because of his poor track record. "
There are few words that demonstrate a hostile or abusive environment as clearly as the N word. And as most would agree, these comparatively hostile words are also blurs based on race, gender, orientation, or gender identity. In this case, the idea that literal racial fraud is not enough to prove how abusive a workspace could be opens up a broader conversation about how to systematically keep people of color away from the workforce. Finally, employees of color are also exposed to latent (or in this case, apparently quite explicit) racism among the workforce. Because white people do not refer to a spade as a spade and want to recognize racism in its many forms, people of color face not only the brunt of racism but also endless emotional work to make their experiences digestible for people who simply do not want to accept it. Racism is a systemic, structural problem, from going to a bank to selling real estate, and the workplace is no exception.
On Twitter, in addition to their role as mothers of black children, people shared many important dialogues about the complexities of Barrett's writing. In short, white family members are neither excused from racism nor immune to racist beliefs or participation in structures that support racism just because they do not have white family members.
As a disabled person myself and a sibling to a man with Down syndrome, I resent that Amy Coney Barrett's children are used to give her credibility on certain issues. They can be problematic (and worse) and have disabled or black family members. That doesn't mean anything to us.
– Hannah (@han_silvs) October 13, 2020
Amy Coney Barrett is the white woman, the millions of African American women suffering the highest maternal mortality rate in our racist health system with Amy Coney Barrett in white coats who will deprive them of reproductive freedom. Our country is hypocritical and broken.
– Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) October 12, 2020
Barrett said her 17-year-old black daughter didn't understand what it was like to be black until George Floyd is a very white mother with black adopted children
– Darron A. Marble (@DarronAMarble) October 13, 2020
one wonders if she would feel that a teacher was "simply" using the word about one of her children to create a hostile or abusive learning environment? and honestly i'm a little scared what their answer would be.
– Henry the Dog (@DogHerny) October 13, 2020
And whether or not this is Barrett is not the point. It's a belief that too many whites hold: if they have or adopt a child of color, they can't be racist.
– Ibram X. Kendi (@DrIbram) September 26, 2020
Of course, given Barrett's originalist approach to the Constitution, people have some questions on a very, very important point.
Barrett addressed some of the criticisms when he was asked by Republican Senator John Kennedy about one of the aforementioned tweets from Professor Ibram Kendi of Boston University describing such "allegations" as "cruel."
Q: "A butthead professor at Boston University says that because you and your husband have two children of color, you are a white colonist. The implication is that you are a racist and you use two children as props."
Judge Barrett: "Such allegations are cruel." pic.twitter.com/1myxbLnvxa
– CSPAN (@cspan) October 14, 2020
And the bigger picture when it comes to talking about parenting and family values that Republicans like to congregate behind.
Any man who commends Amy Coney Barrett's motherhood supports a president who tore children on the border away from their mothers
– Lyz Lenz (@lyzl), October 12, 2020