“It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.” ―
Protoje feat. Mortimer w/ Protection
Clarence Thomas and the High-Tech Lynching by Kendall F. Person
“I do think that our freedoms are at risk.” – Clarence ThomasNo one knows for certain, what will ultimately shape Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas’ legacy, but it has been 27 years since his confirmation hearings, and nothing he has done or said since, has distanced his name from the sexual harassment allegations, except for the silence of his first ten years.
In the 1990’s I had the privilege of discovering one of the most beautifully hidden parts of American history, when the third stop – on my one and only nationwide book tour – found me in Beaufort South Carolina at the Annual Gullah Geechee Festival. Due to their isolation from the white slave owner population, the Gullahs developed a culture and language much closer to the Bahamians, than the Black population, but African American still. Clarence Thomas was raised in this part of the country. But it was considered a backward dialect, connected to poverty and the non-educated. So when a young Thomas stepped outside the Geechee bubble, he would go silent, to not be identified as who he really was.
“His behavior on the bench has gone from curious to bizarre to downright embarrassing, for himself and for the institution he represents.” – Clarence Thomas’s Disgraceful Silence, The New Yorker
“The thing that bothered me when I was in college was that I saw myself rejecting the way of life that got me to where I was.” – Clarence ThomasBut when he ran, he did not simply run away from Affirmative Action and quotas; he did more than revisit history on trials and tribulation caused by the separation of races; when he went silent to protect his own fragile ego; when he turned away from his heritage, in reality he turned his back on Black America, as well. But the nation as a whole would also pay a price, for it would not gain the benefit of the external voice of African American Supreme Court Justice. Since there was no way to hide the color of his skin, for 10 consecutive years, he sat stone quiet, becoming more of an extension of the late Antonin Scalia – an ultra conservative justice is there was. Lost forever, was the valuable perspective of wisdom in Supreme Court decisions that followed.
Perhaps it would not have mattered, if under the spotlight, he had practiced what he preached, but by playing the race card, with such selfish abandon, he effectively sucked the wind out of the sexual harassment pleadings, reducing Anita Hill to a woman scorned. His accuser was a Black Woman; the majority of Black America did not support him, and the seat he would gain belonged to icon Justice Thurgood Marshall – the first Black American to reach the pinnacle of jurisprudence – seemed disrespectful. But he played the race card anyway. And the United States Senate confirmed his nomination just the same. There are many comparisons in the confirmation hearings of Justice Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, and the story within the story should not be underplayed; but in the end, it is not about either man. It is about Anita Hill. It is about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford. It is about restoring dignity to the senate of which they have punted. But more than anything, it is about the plight of American women and the power behind the MeToo Movement. Perhaps, the confirmation of Clarence Thomas, was in fact a high-tech lynching after all. But not one that was perpetrated on him, but on all of us.
“This is a high tech lynching for uppity Blacks, that begin to think for themselves.” – Clarence Thomas, Supreme Court Confirmation Hearings, 10/11/1991
this is… the Story Within the Story The Neighborhood