Amy Barrett says she wept with Black daughter after George Floyd death but refuses to say racism is 'systemic'
Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett commented on the killing of George Floyd during her confirmation hearing on Tuesday, October 13, saying that it was "very, very personal" for her because she has two Black children. The judge, however, did not comment on whether racism is "systemic."
In response to questioning from Democratic Sen Dick Durbin of Illinois on whether she had seen the disturbing Floyd video, Barrett, said: "Senator, as you might imagine, given that I have two Black children, that was very, very personal for my family." She added that she was with her adopted 17-year-old daughter from Haiti, Vivian, when "all of this was erupting and it was very difficult for her," referring to the death of Floyd and subsequent protests against systemic racism and police brutality in the country.
"We wept together in my room and it was also difficult for my daughter, Juliette, who is 10. I had to try to explain some of this to them," the judge continued. "For Vivian to understand there would be a risk to her brother or the son she might have one day of that kind of brutality has been an ongoing conversation. It is a difficult one for us like it is for Americans all over the country. I mean, my children, to this point in their lives, have had the benefit of growing up in a cocoon where they have not experienced hatred or violence."
She was then asked about the broader conversation on racism in the country and how some people reject the notion that slavery is systemic and would prefer that their children are not educated on the issue. Barret responded with: "I think it is an entirely uncontroversial and obvious statement, given that we just discussed the George Floyd video, that racism persists in our country." She, however, declined to give a clear answer on whether she thought racism was "systemic." The SC nominee said: "As to putting my finger on the nature of the problem, whether as you say it's just outright or systemic racism, or how to tackle the issue of making it better — those things, you know, are policy questions. They are hotly contested policy questions."
Floyd, a Black father of one, was killed in police custody in May after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on his neck for over seven minutes. Floyd, through this time, kept pleading with the officer and telling him that he could not breathe. He later became unconscious and was eventually declared dead. Floyd's killing sparked widespread protests across the country and even on an international platform, as people marched and continued to demonstrate against police brutality in America and the systemic nature of racism in the country.
The judge's statement on her children come days after a Boston University professor was denounced for saying the Supreme Court nominee Judge was a racist "White colonizer" for adopting two Black children from Haiti and using them as "props." The director and founder of Boston University's Center for Antiracist Research, Ibram X Kendi, had said: "Some White colonizers 'adopted' Black children. They 'civilized' these 'savage' children in the 'superior' ways of White people, while using them as props in their lifelong pictures of denial, while cutting the biological parents of these children out of the picture of humanity."