I remember , 20 years ago, rushing home to see the senate hearing on the confirmation of Clarence Thomas, a Black man, being considered for one of our nation’s highest offices, supreme court judge in 1991 after the retirement of Thurgood Marshall the first Black supreme court judge. George W. Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to replace Thurgood Marshall who was nominated by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1967. Marshall was chief counselor for the NAACP and his most famous case was the “Brown vs. the Board Of Education” that he successful argued before the Supreme Court. Thurgood Marshall is on my list of heroes. Unfortunately, Clarence Thomas is another story.
Thomas’ confirmation hearing was like a soap opera with the revelation that he had sexual harassed a fellow employee, Anita Hill, while he was her supervisor at the Department of Education and the EEOC. Anita stated he, “”spoke about … such matters as women having sex with animals and films showing group sex or rape scenes …. On several occasions, Thomas told me graphically of his own sexual prowess …. Thomas was drinking a Coke in his office, he got up from the table at which we were working, went over to his desk to get the Coke, looked at the can and asked, “Who has put pubic hair on my Coke?” She took a lie detector test and passed but Thomas refused to take the lie detector test. Thomas was narrowly confirmed by a vote of 52 to 48.
At the time, stories were being told about how he talked bad about his sister because she was on welfare and how angry she would get if the check wasn’t in the mail as she expected it to be. She was only unemployed and on welfare a short time and during that time she was taking care of an ailing elderly aunt. Yes, there are those who dependent on the entitlement programs more than they should but to condemn your sister publicly is appalling. Why couldn’t he step up and provide financial support. In my opinion he has no sense of family. When your mother abandons you or chooses her husband over you and send you a way to live with your grandparents then Clarence was bound to have issues going forward.
But, what I take offense to is the fact he has chosen to climb the ladder of “affirmative action” himself but remove the ladder for others. Yes, this Black man feels that you should pull yourself up by your own bootstraps like he did. Unfortunately, he has blinders on if he believes he got where he is today without special consideration. He is considered a strong conservative on the court in his voting and decisions along with Justice Antonin Scalia. A recent article by Juan Williams suggests Thomas is misunderstood and some things need clarified.
Williams proclaims that Clarence Thomas read the autobiography of Malcolm X and came to the belief of Black self-reliance, self-determination and self-sufficiency. And, Thomas often quotes from Malcolm X:
“The American black man should be focusing his every effort toward building his own businesses and decent homes for himself. As other ethnic groups have done, let the black people, wherever possible, however possible, patronize their own kind and start in those ways to build up the black race’s ability to do for itself. That’s the only way the American black man is ever going to get respect.”
After reading Juan Williams article, “Clarence Thomas: Black Nationalist” in The Root last week, I came to the conclusion that it was a article written by someone that is not near and dear to my heart after the NPR-Fox News situation Juan found himself in a few years back. So, now Juan wants us to believe that his friend Clarence Thomas is considered a Black trail-blazer like Booker T Washington or Malcolm X. The one big difference is these men are respected icons of Black history. Williams makes Clarence Thomas appear to be accepted by 48% of Americans but how many Black Americans accept him?
During the confirmation hearings, Representative John Lewis (D-Ga.), who was dedicated to the civil rights movement and protested with MLK, confided that he had been “advised by some that [he] should not testify against [Thomas] because he is black.” Repudiating that advice, Lewis contended that while “the color of [the nominee’s] skin is not relevant … his views and his qualifications are.” Convinced that Thomas wanted to “pull down the ladder that he climbed up,” Lewis begged his senatorial colleagues to nullify the nomination. And, there were others who did not support his nomination for Supreme Court Justice.
Juan Williams paints Thomas as an independent thinker with this quote from Thomas:
“It pains me deeply — more deeply than any of you can imagine — to be perceived by so many members of my race as doing them harm … I have come here not in anger or to anger, though my mere presence has been sufficient, obviously, to anger some, nor have I come to defend my views, but rather to assert my right to think for myself, to refuse to have my ideas assigned to me, as though I was an intellectual slave.”
If it walks like a duck, talk like a duck it’s probably a duck. Same goes for those we call Uncle Toms. Definition of an Uncle Tom: A Black man who will do anything to stay in good standing with “the white man” including betray his own people.
A year ago Mrs. Clarence Thomas left a voicemail message for Anita Hill: “Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginny Thomas,” said the message. “I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband.” (She did conclude with “have a good day.”)
And the answer is no Mrs. Clarence Thomas Anita Hill has nothing to apologize for. In closing, I still don’t like him 20 years later!