I thought that the interview of Justice Clarence Thomas was pretty revealing. It's always interesting to see how black folk can turn out so wrong and I thought the 60 minutes piece did a good job of showing that. I recall a favorite poet of mine, Iyaba Mandingo who has a poem entitled: This Old Man In it we find this line:
With skin so full of melanin,
the sout' musta been hard for him.
I'm not sure if it was the intention of 60 minutes or if it was in fact a high (or low) point for Thomas when he mentioned his grand father telling him that he was getting up in age and to never look a white woman in the eye. It's interesting to me because it seems that many figures in black America have had white girls or women at some crux of their self identity. By that I mean, that the interactions between black boys and white girls and the inevitable split between them as they come "of age" seems to be a rather constant point in memoirs. It seems to be that a distinct split can be seen between those who as a result of this "rude" awakening, rejected that which was now "out of bounds" and those that seemed to make it a point to re-connect or connect with that which was put "out of bounds". Thomas, in my opinion is one of the latter.
Though some people may have been surprised that Thomas was somewhat the campus radical in his day, I was not completely surprised by this. The fact of the matter is that many people who got into "Black radicalism" as Thomas put it, did so for ego. It wasn't so much a commitment to what "black power" as delineated by Kwame Toure, but rather a means to get back at those who were marginalizing you. Many people involved at that time allowed their "radical" activities to distract them from their studies. Thomas was not one of them. This is significant because it underscores how Thomas was later able to succumb to white kryptonite later. Because he was bright and possibly saw the insecurities in his "radical" peers who perhaps were not his intellectual peers and perhaps lacked his discipline, I have no doubt that Thomas started to get kind of "annoyed" at all the revolutionary talk that went no where and people with big mouths who aside from show, had really no long term plans.
At the same time we must recall that Clarence "Bigger" Thomas is still dealing with the blows to his worth as a man due to his blackness and was possibly smarting from rejection from segments of his own. So Clarence becomes ripe for the picking when the "friendly white men" start calling. Let's be clear here. Thomas soon discovered, as most black folk do, that after all that Campus radicalism, one is going to graduate and have to find a job and support oneself. The rubber meets the road and hard choices have to be made. But most disconcerting for the mind is that most of these black folk one may have run with are in no position to offer one employment. Think on that for a minute. is it entirely unthinkable for someone, confronted with the reality that "it's a white mans country after all", to move away from an ideology that really wasn't principle to begin with? I'm not asking anyone to sympathize with Thomas, I'm saying to check the logic. His decisions make sense once you understand where HE is coming from.
So given that Thomas had used "black radicalism" to deal with some of his ego issues and then was confronted with the reality that white men run t'ings, are we surprised that when friendly white folk, offering a job and start would start Thomas down the road he went down? Not to me.
Thomas has a bruised psyche. As a judge I believe he sees it his duty to eradicate those things that caused him pain. You'll note how he states that his Yale Degree was worth 15 cent when clearly it was (and is) worth a whole lot more given that without it he would not have gotten where he did. But this is indicative of his continued pain at his rejection. Thomas is stuck on objects. Instead of faulting the attitudes of those that attempted to belittle his academic achievements, he faults Affirmative Action, with the perverted logic that somehow white folk suddenly started to look down on black folk once that program was created.
That white woman he couldn't look in the eye, now he can look one in the eye daily (and nightly).
Thomas, unfortunately believes that he thinks "outside the box" but in reality is only in a different chamber of the same big box. I've seen his type before. Nothing really strange about him.
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