Taking Action or Taking Resumes
Why it is vital we have a Black Woman on the US Supreme Court.
As you likely noticed, the job market has been getting a little complicated lately. The so-called “great resignation” has been vexing employers ranging from schools to meat packing plants.
If you want something done right, you’re going to have to schedule multiple interviews and hastily extend offers to the first candidate that shows up, before realizing you’re gonna have to do it yourself. In some cases, workers appear to have more leverage than ever, so any schlupp wanting a job can walk into the meat packing facility of their choice and start immediately, after which they’ll take an extra fifteen minutes on their lunch without permission or regard for the people around them, and eventually walk off the job.
The issues may look different between industries, but nearly everyone is dealing with personnel related complications. The NFL and the Supreme Court are no exception. Although I haven’t heard that people are quitting without notice or ghosting their scheduled interviews, it's complicated nonetheless.
By the way, I’m sorry to refer to The Supreme Court as a meat packing plant. The only reason I said that is because they’ve been stuffing the bench with old white men to interpret our laws and shape legal precedent since 1789 with only a few exceptions (7 exceptions actually). It seems like even dudes accused of sexual assault can still snag a placed on the bench where they’ll decide the fate of women and children for the rest of their working life.
Of course a hiring 101 professor would tell you that selecting a candidate should be a matter of identifying the one with the greatest qualifications for the job. And let’s be fair, if the term “qualifications” is synonymous with “the other white meat” then the Supreme Court is doing great. But when it comes to shaping the law through rigorous review, qualifications aren't just about pedigree, they’re also about perspective.
Perspective comes not just from sitting on the bench, but also spending time on the field. Take football for example. My children could draw Xs and Os by the time they were four, but converting those Xs and Os to banging heads against each other usually ended with one person being put down for a nap and another one pulling out the debit card to replace the dishes that were broken in the process.
Of course the NFL isn’t worried about a broken dish any more than a broken promise. That is, promises regarding considering diverse candidates. It’s known as the Rooney Rule, requiring teams to interview at least two external minority candidates for head coaching positions.
It’s worth pointing out that Black players have an advantage on the field, currently at about 58 percent. It doesn’t seem that advantage has extended to the coaching department though, a cut that dangles at around 35 percent–despite their clear strength in field experience, and the record on the field.
NFL Coach Brian Flores noticed this, but he didn’t bring it up until Bill Belichick sent him texts congratulating him on getting the job three days before he had his interview. It turns out, the text message was meant for his competition who is also named Brian.
While I don’t begrudge any Brian for acquiring a job, and I assume Brian would say the same, from one Brian to another. It’s the Brian’s that never got a chance that concerns me. Despite the clear evidence of the Brianominon on the field (definition: the Phenomenon of Exceptional Brians) or the Brianistics (definition: The Statistical Analysis of Brians).
What didn’t happen
Qualifications can come from field experience or bench experience, but regardless, somewhere in history, experience came from getting that first shot. The first shot is when employers and coaches take a chance on someone based on something other than a resume.
In the ancient language of the Pawnee, the word for resume is literally translated “a pile of embellishments” or in a more literal, literal interpretation “bullshit”. It’s also known as “the original LinkedIn” which of course didn’t include the automated messages. My greater point is that resumes tell you one thing very clearly.
Resumes tell you what didn’t happen.
Our Professor of HR at Prestige U. is not wrong when he advises you to hire someone based on their objective qualifications. But there is a narrow scope being taken into consideration. Often people look to statistics and resumes to show us about someone's experience. That is, what did happen and for how long, but this method is limited by “survivor bias.”
What is survivor bias? Let's say you have a private high school with a 99% graduation rate. It’s located in a public school district that has a 85% high school graduation rate. The statistics on marketing materials may say that the private school’s graduation rate is almost perfect. But the private school has a more strict enrollment process, which means that they only let in the students that already have good grades and presumably stable homes. Their graduation rate may not be any better. In fact it could be worse. They just limit their admission to students that are likely to graduate regardless. The students that don’t get accepted aren't counted in their figures.
It’s no wonder those student’s leave school without a resume. The school that could help them, didn’t help them. It never happened.
With a deeper reading, resumes show you who never got called back. The team she didn’t get picked for, the school that didn’t accept her and the job for which she didn't get a call back.
Expand the conversation.
President Joe Biden has vowed to select a Black Woman for the next supreme court pick. Of course we’re talking about people that have already achieved a lot in their lives. People that are already trained in the law. By the sounds of it, he’s not considering the person with the best resume or the strongest record if they are not also a female African American candidate.
Oh no! What is he doing!?
Biden’s critics, namely Ted Cruz, have said this decision is “offensive” and an insult to Black Americans. That we should consider all qualified candidates and “choose the best option”. Well this is a pile of embellishments. A Pile from which we have already selected 108 justices. Justices who have not faced court affirmed voter suppression, or other constitutional abridgements.
So should we expand the field or expand our perspective? If we expand the field, we’ll be taking resumes. If we expand our perspective, we’ll capture the expertise of a vital point of view in America. When perspective is a priority, it narrows our focus to what our team needs.
It’s true that coaching skills and playing football may not always be talents that are graced upon the same person. But making a decision on the bench is going to require the voices of those with the perspective that comes from a first hand view of the field.
And this is why we absolutely must have the perspective of a Black Woman on the Supreme Court. Immediately, if not sooner.