I wasn’t going to wade into the Justice Thomas has a book out muck, but damn if my in-box can take another request.
Full disclosure – a bitch is a Brandeis alum (go Judges!!) and Anita Hill is a professor of social policy, law and women’s studies there. But I was not a student in the Land of Judges at the same time as Professor Hill.
I have not read Justice Thomas’s book but a bitch did watch his confirmation hearings back in the day. The Thomas hearings had a profound impact on my life because they were the first time I was aware of being tugged in two directions…confronted with the dual identity of a black woman through an event that involved race and gender on public display.
Last night I watched Justice Thomas discuss his life and new book on 60 Minutes and I found the segment rather sad. Thomas came across as isolated from everyone and angry because of it. What struck me as tragic is that he rowed out to that island and erected those walls on his own.
He is not the first black student to attend college and have his peers devalue him because they assume he was admitted due to affirmative action. Nor is he the first student of color to fall victim to his insecurities…to internalize the racist judgment of his culture by his peers…and to ultimately resent that same culture because it was so cleverly and consistently used by those peers to question his intellectual worthiness.
And it is true that many in the Civil Rights establishment crowned Justice Thomas as the Uncle Tom of his era…and it is also true that some of those same black leaders leveled harsh judgment on Professor Hill for breaking the black covenant and publicly charging a fellow black person with wrongdoing (gasp!).
But if the Civil Rights struggle is our generation’s inheritance…and I believe that it is…then our generation also inherits the debt of Justice Thomas and Anita Hill.
The challenge before us is whether we will be the ones to pay off that debt…to cease judging ourselves by the measure of the majority culture and to come correct with each other so that right is understood as right and wrong is understood to be wrong.
In that spirit (wink)…
I believed then as I do today that Justice Thomas repeatedly sexually harassed Anita Hill while he was her boss. Professor Hill’s reluctance to immediately come forward was beyond understandable to me given the backlash and damage coming forward still does to a woman’s career.
On the issue of Justice Thomas’s tenure on the bench I believe that he deserves to the judged by his work and legal legacy...
…and by that measure I find him lacking.
I disagree with his interpretation of the role of the states versus the role of the federal government. I find it fantastical to believe that our union could survive the radical societal differences his states rights positions would create…in fact, the greatest challenges to our republic have come when region to region, state to state and community to community we lack common ground.
The Constitution is a beautifully fluid document…by design. Like most liquids, it’s damned near impossible to strictly construct it into a rigid form without radically altering it from its original state. The learning of that lesson is always messy as a motherfucker...and apparently that mess is easy as hell for some to forget because they never have to clean it the fuck up.
Anyone have a mop?