In my freshman year at Michigan State University, I spoke with the District Court Judge of Detroit, Michigan. She was a guest speaker for the National Association of Blacks in Criminal Justice, a club I became a member of. She spoke with such high passion for what she does for a living that I couldn't help but be drawn to her by some force that made me feel as if we were related. I asked her a question based on my concern of becoming a lawyer, and her answer has stuck with me to this very day.
It is very easy for me to become emotionally involved in instances that have affected me personally: issues of being an African American woman, childhood molestation, and minority injustices. I developed the courage to ask the district judge: “How were you able to stay strong and professional enough to handle a case you became emotionally invested in, or better yet, how do you control not being emotionally invested?” As a mother of two, she described a case she recently had where a seven-year-old had to testify against her father who sexually molested her. She discussed how the little girl started crying and asked the judge if she could hold her hand. The judge held her hand and fought the tears during the trial, but when there was a recess, she went to the bathroom and cried. What was beautiful about what she said to me was that being emotionally invested in a case is not a bad thing: “it is a reminder of whom you are doing this for.”
For as long as I could remember, my father and I have bumped heads. When I was in middle school, it always seemed as if he wanted to, as if he purposely went out of his way to start an argument with me. I remember running upstairs after each argument and crying inside my pillow. It came to the point where everytime I heard him waking up from his bed, and I was in the kitchen making breakfast, I had to say to myself: "not this time." It was a battle between me and my emotions, because emotion was a sign of weakness.
Now, I understand why emotions in an argument can be detrimental. An argument must have concrete premises that support a claim, not opinions pertaining to how you feel. However, I use my emotions towards a situation to drive me, to give me that extra incentive to go even harder on an argument, research longer for my premises, and review diligently for no falsehoods. My emotion is my "five hour energy" boost.
To hear from a successful judge that being driven by emotion is not a bad thing has given me hope that my legal track will not fail based on what I cannot control. My father has always told me to get rid of my emotions if I plan on being successful, to the point where I felt like my dream was not meant for me.
Being emotionally involved in situations that trouble me is how I would like to mold my identity. I want to reclaim the very thing women are being stereotyped as (Click here to read more on stereotpyes related to gender). I want my readers and later clients to have that comfort of me understanding their situations, having been there and being able to relate. I would like them to feel this comfort, because I know how lonely it feels not to have it.
I am an emotionally driven writer and achiever. For me to give my all in writing,
I must find a way to relate to it. Editing this piece actually brings me back to the societal framework Audre Lorde and many other feminist activists bring to awareness: the false framework that oppresses woman in stating that we are emotional beings, while men are logical, and for this reason, woman are less favored, if favored at all. Take a look at Simone De Beavoirs "The Second Sex" peice, where she describes if men are rational, we are by default, irrational. Audre Lorde states that we must take that very critique of being emotionality and embrace it. Embrace it and become successful, even with our lack of support.