The quiet unassuming grip of systemic racism

As a white male, I am compelled to speak out in opposition to the confirmation of Mr. Dan Gluck to the Intermediate Court of Appeals, and in support of a court that represents the diversity that defines our community.

Decision-making occurs through the lens of the decision-maker. White cisgender men view the world through an entirely different lens than that of women of color. People whose life experience is grounded in the privilege of wealth likewise see things differently than those who were born into poverty. Whether the lens is of one of class, gender, ethnicity, age, sexual orientation, or other unique life circumstances – each individual makes decisions grounded in their own life experience.

Yes, many of us do our best to understand the perspective of others, to empathize, and attempt to make good and thoughtful decisions accordingly. But an uncomfortable truth is that unless we have walked in their shoes, we cannot truly understand, nor can we truly view the same world as those who come from a wholly different place in life.

I do not know Dan Gluck well at all. I have communicated with him on issues in the past and he has always conducted himself professionally and with integrity. Most would say that his values align to a great extent with mine and other self-identified “progressives.” This issue however rises above that basic standard and goes to the fundamental nature of governance.

To ensure the most equitable and the highest quality decision-making possible, every governing body whether elected or appointed, needs to reflect the community it’s responsible to represent. The best decision-making for the whole will come about only when a communities diversity is represented in its governing institutions.

My hope is that Mr. Gluck will recognize that in this situation, his kuleana requires that he withdraw his name from consideration. Publicly acknowledging that at this particular point in time, this particular appointment is not his to accept, would seal his reputation as a stand-up guy, a man of character whose willing to take a hit for the betterment of his community.

Latest updates: Senate Committee Votes “No.” Full Senate vote set for tomorrow Thursday July 28, 2021 Watch the video linked below:

Senator Chris Lee took to the floor for 10-15 minutes in today’s confirmation hearing, attempting to justify his vote by essentially saying, “I recognize that white & AJA males dominate the political power landscape in Hawaii, but we shouldn’t make this decision based on race or gender.” 

This is, quite frankly, the epitome of privilege. And he doesn’t even see the irony.

Senator Laura Acasio, however, faced the uncomfortable truth head-on when she said “Systemic racism is embedded in every aspect of this vote… if we keep kicking the can down the road, and we don’t address those issues – literally today – then it’s just a pipe dream that it will ever happen.”

Watch the full video here: (starts at 37:18, Senator Lee’s comments are between 38:30-53-05, Senator Acasio’s comments are between 1:02:24- 1:03:55)

To be clear: Systemic racism is almost never a conscious decision to favor one race over another. It happens innocuously, over time, from one benign appointment of a good white guy over a more qualified Hawaiian woman to the next, and the pattern continues until someone steps in and makes the uncomfortable decision to stop it.

I applaud Senators Keohokalole, Acasio, Kim, and Fevella for taking a tough stance and voting on principle to regect this appointment. I am hopeful that a majority in the Senate will follow suit, should Mr. Gluck decide not to withdraw his name from consideration.

If you feel strongly about Mr. Gluck’s appointment, you should call your Senator today and ask them how they plan to vote on his confirmation:

Testimony Summary:79 Support 151 Oppose

For those unfamiliar with the issue:

From the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp via citizen advocacy group Stop HB499 Hui- 

* The list of 6 candidates included 3 Native Hawaiian women and a Filipino community member, but the Governor picked the only white male on the list, who was the least qualified of all the candidates based on actual experience practicing law in the courts.

* There are currently zero Native Hawaiians or Filipino-Americans on the appellate bench of Hawai‘i.  With this appointee, a majority of the appellate bench would be white.  There hasn’t been a Native Hawaiian judge on Hawaiʻi’s highest courts in decades.

StarAdvertiser “Our View” Editorial“Gov. David Ige chose Gluck, the executive director and general counsel for the state Ethics Commission, from a list of six candidates provided by the Judicial Selection Commission.

Gluck’s nomination has been challenged, not unreasonably, by those wanting more diversity on the bench and someone with more courtroom experience. Three of the candidates Ige passed over are women of Hawaiian ancestry, with much more experience than Gluck working in appellate courts.

“At present, there are no native Hawaiian, Filipino, Pacific Islander, or African American judges at the Supreme Court or the ICA,” said a letter from the House Native Hawaiian Caucus.

And in Civil Beat –“For members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the vote on Gluck wasn’t just a vote for a single judicial candidate. Fair or not, his nomination has become a symbol of deeply rooted issues in Hawaii, specifically race and gender diversity.”

About garyhooser

This blog represents my thoughts as an individual person and does not represent the official position of any organization I may be affiliated with. I presently serve as volunteer President of the Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (H.A.P.A.) I am the former Vice-Chair of the Democratic Party of Hawaii. In another past life, I was an elected member of the Kauai County Council, a Hawaii State Senator, and Majority Leader, and the Director of Environmental Quality Control for the State of Hawaii - in an even earlier incarnation I was an entrepreneur and small business owner. Yes, I am one of the luckiest guys on the planet. Please visit my website AND sign up for my newsletter (unlike any email newsletter you have ever gotten, of that I am sure) - “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We’re afraid.” “Come to the edge.” “We can’t. We will fall!” “Come to the edge.” And they came. And he pushed them. And they flew. - Christopher Logue (b.1926)
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2 Responses to The quiet unassuming grip of systemic racism

  1. Marcella Alohalani Boido says:

    Mr. Gluck is not “white.” He is Jewish. His appointment would have increased the diversity of the Judiciary.

    • garyhooser says:

      Truthfully, I was not sure what to do with this comment and my first reaction was to delete it…but I will let it sit here…at least for the moment. Am not sure if this is the place to debate whether being Jewish is based on a system of beliefs or theology or ethnicity and a blood quantum.

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