Washington State Supreme Court Justice G. Helen Whitener Shares Poetry with Pongo
In April of 2020, Grace Helen Whitener was appointed to the Washington State Supreme Court, making her the first Black woman to serve on the court, the fourth immigrant-born Justice, and the first openly Black LGBT judge in the state’s history. Justice Whitener is a frequent speaker on Human Rights, Access to Justice, and the rights and responsibility of the judiciary in ensuring the rights of all that appear before them to basic dignity and respect in judicial proceedings.
In addition to her many professional accomplishments, as you can see from the poem below, she’s a talented writer as well. We’re excited to share this moving piece of poetry from Justice Whitener on identity, acceptance, and resilience.
Written by G. Helen Whitener
How dark is the color of ITs skin?
As that will define ITs struggles within
Is IT a boy or is IT a girl was asked
As if important to assign ITs Life’s Tasks
Will IT stay or will IT go
The Answer ITs parents needs to know
From the day that IT was born
ITs very essence society scorned
At birth Society CODED ITs future to DOOM
IT hacked the CODE and redirected ITs future to ZOOM
Silent IT could never be
IT ladies and gentlemen is ME
*”IT stands for Identity Transcendence,” says Justice Whitener. Listen to Justice Whitener read her poem “IT” in her soul-stirring TED Talk Claiming your Identity by understanding your self-worth
Read more about Judge Whitener’s ascent to the High Court in the Seattle Emerald newspaper’s article “First Black Woman Makes Washington’s Supreme Court Most Diverse Ever.”
A special thank you to Justice Whitener for granting us permission to republish this powerful piece.