United States

Message to Readers

“I think it will take people, true patriots, on both sides of the aisle to say, ‘Enough of this nonsense. We should work together for the good of the people of the United States.’”
- Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg (1933-2020)

Dear Justice

October 20, 2020

As much as we love Perry Mason and his scathing cross-examinations, the law is nothing like what we see on T.V. In fact, it's probably closer to calculus: dense, dry, and difficult, it's hard to see why anyone would want to be a lawyer. But somehow, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg - a law superhero in her own right - has also become a pop culture icon. Was it perhaps due to her eternal love for scrunchies, impeccable fashion sense, or killer workout plan? Maybe - but I admired her for the fiery dissents and tireless advocacy that have earned her the nickname The Notorious R.B.G. And its that admiration for her selflessness, bravery, and leadership that plunged me into grief after I learned about her death on September 18, 2020.

Was it only a month ago? It feels like eons have passed since her death. I know I'm not the only one devastated by her loss; she represented something different to all of us. For some, she was a feminist, a trailblazing pioneer who, despite being one of nine women in a Harvard law class of hundreds, went on to become the first Jewish woman on America's highest court - 72 years after that same court had declared women were historically dependent upon men. On the other hand, some viewed Ruth as a loyal wife and mother who managed to raise a family and care for her ailing husband as he battled cancer all the while balancing a busy career.

But to me, she represented a facet of the American Dream, the same dream that my family like generations before us believed in. She too was the daughter of an immigrant who faced discrimination in her childhood. She too had a fearless, independent mother that encouraged her to pursue an education in spite of an oppressive patriarchy. And as a brown girl growing up with virtually no representation in the media, having someone I could identify with - and especially someone so powerful and strong - meant the world to little 7-year-old me.

Justice Ginsburg lent a voice to people from all ends of the spectrum and of all colors of the rainbow. But in the aftermath of her death, the democracy she had fought so hard to maintain is crumbling beneath my feet. Of course, it's easy to blame legislators and the media for the dramatic battles emerging over Ginsburg's vacant Court seat, but as always, the truth resists simplicity. The problem is just as deeply embedded in the public as it is within our own government. For too long, we have let political parties fracture us into tinier and tinier pieces as we lose sight of what makes America, America: life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

On June 16th, 1858, then-Illinois Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln stated that "a house divided against itself cannot stand," and 162 years later, his words carry just as much weight as they did in the years leading up to the Civil War. Our country has become so divided that we cannot call ourselves a true nation. Now, one word defines your position on everything from immigration and gun reform to healthcare and the economy. Even though we fully know well that one word can't solve any of these problems, we box ourselves into misleadingly simplified and distinct categories. And the same thing is happening with Justice Ginsburg. We are so focused on the politics surrounding her death that we risk forgetting her legacy altogether: one of love, not hate; of equality, not prejudice; and of opportunity, not belittlement.

The United States of America has stuck together for over 200 years through Presidents good and bad and wars external and internal. But with a pandemic that has already claimed over 200,000 American lives and forced millions out of their jobs, our Government has never failed us more. It astounds me how children can compromise over mundane things like a T.V. remote, but grown adults in Congress can't over hugely serious issues like stimulus bills that are necessary to support a growing unemployed population. Meanwhile, our President continues to mismanage the biggest health crisis of the modern era, and state governments trip over each other to patch up cracks and gaping holes in reopening plans. A Pandora's box has been unleashed upon our country, yet our leaders refuse to cooperate and take responsibility for this crisis.

Thus, it falls into our hands, as civilians, to learn and lead by Justice Ginsburg's example. Together, we will use justice in the service of liberty to fight for our beliefs, our loved ones, and ourselves. Together, we will stand for equality regardless of race, ethnicity, gender, and class. Together, we will fight to preserve our land for future dreamers that simply want a safe haven to call home. And together, we will make our voices heard and elect the people who prioritize us over another term in office.

More than an icon (with a following some pop stars might envy), Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's bold actions have shattered glass ceilings. Her death united America in grief, and even if it was just for a moment, it brought Democrats and Republicans together as they praised Ginsburg for her historic achievements. Just imagine how much we can learn from this rare show of solidarity - starting by embracing the differences that make us unique. By disavowing chaos in favor of order. And by remembering that we, the people, are the foundation of this democracy.

Thus, let us shatter the labels that unfairly define us and break free from hateful ideologies. Let us seek solace in each other and confront the uncomfortable truth to find the highs after countless months of lows. Let us push for and champion meaningful change in hopes of establishing a new legacy for America. Let us keep the flames of liberty and justice for all alive and thriving in Pandora's box.

Let us carry on Justice Ginsburg's legacy, together, as a house united.

Video Link to Speech: (The pictures are a bit random, but I had to include them because I couldn't just upload an audio file to youtube)

And of course, none of this could have been possible without the wonderful help of my resources:

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  • ~wildflower~

    This is an amazing speech! I love how you ended on a hopeful note with a powerful call-to-arms, and the last paragraph - in particular - was so empowering. Congratulations on being mentioned!

    3 months ago
  • Nathaniel G. Williams

    This speech is incredible! I almost found myself crying even though I don't know everything RBG did. Great job! This is very compelling.

    3 months ago