Washington State Supreme Court Justice G. Helen Whitener Shares Poetry with Pongo

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Washington State Supreme Court Justice Grace Helen Whitener
(Photo: Office of Gov. Jay Inslee)

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.

     IT*

       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.