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The Conservative Black Nationalism of Clarence Thomas | Boston Review
"there’s a sometimes superficial, sometimes not so superficial, resemblance between those arguments from the right for futility and arguments from the left about the deep, systemic structural nature of oppression. One can bleed into the other, particularly in moments of defeat, and you can lose that sense of political plasticity, of the vulnerability of the regime you’re opposing."
coreyrobin  joshuacohen  2019  clarencethomas  oppression  futility  politics  vulnerability  jurisprudence  nationalism  conservatism  race  us 
19 days ago by robertogreco
Clarence Thomas’s Radical Vision of Race | The New Yorker
"In making sincerity the litmus test of American racism, Thomas took a strand of the black nationalism that influenced his early development and wove it into an entire philosophy of race. In the nineteen-twenties, at an especially acute moment of racist reaction in the United States, Marcus Garvey also found comfort in the promise of candor. “They are better friends to my race for telling us what they are, and what they mean, than all the hypocrites put together,” Garvey said, of the Ku Klux Klan. “I like honesty and fair play.”

For Thomas, dishonesty was not only about race; it was also about class. However well intentioned white liberals were about remedying racial inequality, their élitism was steadfast. At Yale, some of Thomas’s classmates would query the absence of class rankings and grades. “You do not separate cream from cream,” a professor responded. “It is your fate as a Yale Law School student to become one of the leaders in the legal profession. It will happen, not because of you personally, but because you are here. That is what happens to Yale Law School students.” But Yale’s black students were separated from the cream; indeed, the absence of rankings was used to effect that separation. As he approached graduation, Thomas tried to secure a position at an élite law firm in Atlanta, which had no black associates. One of the marks against him was that he had no grades. Even if he came from Yale, how could his prospective employers know how good he was?

Thomas came to believe that, for the white liberal, offering help to black people was a way to express the combined privileges of race and class. This is a running theme of Wright’s “Native Son,” in which Bigger Thomas, a poor black man from the slums of Chicago, is given an opportunity to rise when a wealthy white family hires him as a chauffeur. The idea that black people can advance only with the help of whites is anathema to Clarence Thomas, who has identified with Wright’s protagonist throughout his life. For him, white benevolence denies black people the pride of achievement. By contrast, if one is black and overcomes the barriers of Jim Crow, one can be assured that the accomplishment is real. Thomas often invokes the example of his grandparents, who, despite segregation, managed to acquire property and support their family. Though they “had to work twice as hard to get half as far,” they knew, however far they got, that the distance was theirs. When black people succeed in the shadow of white benefactors, that certainty is lost.

This is the loss that Thomas has suffered since his youth: not of the color line but of its clarity. It’s a loss that he associates with liberalism, the North, and, above all, integration. “I never worshiped at the altar” of integration, he declared, five years after joining the Court. As he told Juan Williams, who wrote a profile of Thomas in The Atlantic, “The whole push to assimilate simply does not make sense to me.” It is a loss that Thomas has set out—from his early years as a young black nationalist on the left to his tenure as a conservative on the Court—to reverse.

Thomas’s rightward drift, which began in the seventies, was inflected by the very ethos that once put him on the left: namely, disaffection with black liberalism and the mainstream civil-rights movement. In his memoir, Thomas notes that part of the appeal of black nationalism was tied to his sense, in the wake of the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr., and Robert F. Kennedy, that “no one was going to take care of me or any other black person in America.” Eventually, this notion extended to the left. “I marched. I protested. I asked the government to help black people,” Thomas told the Washington Post, in 1980. “I did all those things. But it hasn’t worked.” The whole repertoire of black politics—from mainstream activism to Black Power radicalism and beyond—now seemed pointless. By the eighties, Thomas, a member of the Reagan Administration, believed that state action could do nothing for African-Americans. Problems of racial inequality “cannot be solved by the law—even civil-rights laws,” he told an audience at Clark College, a historically black school in Atlanta, in the nineteen-eighties.

And yet it was on the bench that Thomas began to pursue his own particular vision of racial justice. In his first decade on the Court, Thomas often met with high-achieving black students from Washington’s poorer neighborhoods. One meeting—with a high-school student named Cedric Jennings—was immortalized in a 1998 Esquire piece. After several hours of warm conversation, Thomas asked Jennings what his plans were for college. “I’m off to Brown,” Jennings replied. Thomas frowned. Finally, he said, “Well, that’s fine, but I’m not sure I would have selected an Ivy League school. You’re going to be up there with lots of very smart white kids, and if you’re not sure about who you are, you could get eaten alive. . . . It can happen at any of the good colleges where a young black man who hasn’t spent much time with whites suddenly finds himself among almost all whites.”

This concern runs throughout Thomas’s jurisprudence. “Some people think that the solution to all the problems of black people is integration,” he said, in 1997. By his own admission, he is not one of them. In a lengthy 1982 research article (published with an acknowledgment to “the invaluable assistance of Anita F. Hill”), Thomas notes pointedly that “it must be decided . . . whether integration per se should be a primary goal.” At Thomas’s confirmation hearings, the Republican senator Arlen Specter pressed him on that claim, asking, “If you end segregation, doesn’t it necessarily mean that you are requiring school integration?”

At the time, Thomas dodged the question, but he has since given his answer on the Court. In the 1995 case Missouri v. Jenkins, the Court’s conservative majority held that federal courts could not force Missouri to adopt policies designed to entice suburban white students to predominantly black urban schools. Thomas joined the majority. In the Court’s private deliberations about the case, he argued, in the paraphrase of a profile of Thomas in The New Yorker, “I am the only one at this table who attended a segregated school. And the problem with segregation was not that we didn’t have white people in our class. The problem was that we didn’t have equal facilities. We didn’t have heating, we didn’t have books, and we had rickety chairs. . . . All my classmates and I wanted was the choice to attend a mostly black or a mostly white school, and to have the same resources in whatever school we chose.”

This private sentiment made its way into Thomas’s public statement about the case. His concurrence in Missouri v. Jenkins was “the only opinion,” legal scholar Mark Graber argues, “that questioned whether desegregation was a constitutional value.” If anything, Thomas believes that the state should—where it can, within the law—support the separation of the races. Looking back on his education, in an all-black environment, Thomas has admitted to wanting to “turn back the clock” to a time “when we had our own schools.” Much of his jurisprudence is devoted to undoing the “grand experiment” of which he believes himself to be a victim. As he made clear in 1986, “I have been the guinea pig for many social experiments on social minorities. To all who would continue these experiments, I say please ‘no more.’ ”

Perhaps the most insidious of those experiments, for Thomas, is affirmative action, which he has long opposed. His critics call him a hypocrite. “He had all the advantages of affirmative action and went against it,” Rosa Parks said of Thomas, in 1996. His defenders believe that Thomas is advancing a common conservative line—that affirmative action is a form of reverse racism, which imposes illegitimate burdens on whites. In fact, Thomas’s arguments are considerably more unorthodox than that. According to Thomas, affirmative action is the most recent attempt by white people to brand and belittle black people as inferior. Affirmative action does not formally mirror the tools of white supremacy; for Thomas, it is the literal continuation of white supremacy.

His argument is rooted in two beliefs, each informed by his time spent on the left. The first is that affirmative action reinforces the stigma that shadows African-Americans. Among many whites, blackness signals a deficit of intellect, talent, and skill. Even Supreme Court Justices, Thomas wrote in one opinion, “assume that anything that is predominantly black must be inferior.” When the state and social institutions identify African-Americans as beings in need of help, they reinforce that stigma. It doesn’t matter if some African-Americans succeed without affirmative action. In the same way that enslavement marked all black people, free or slave, as inferior, affirmative action—here Thomas borrows directly from the language of Plessy v. Ferguson—stamps all African-Americans with “a badge of inferiority.”

The second way affirmative action continues white supremacy is by elevating whites to the status of benefactors, doling out scarce privileges to those black people they deem worthy. The most remarkable element of Thomas’s affirmative-action jurisprudence, and what makes it unlike that of any other Justice on the Supreme Court, is how much attention he devotes to whites, not as victims but as perpetrators, the lead actors in a racial drama of their own imagination. Put simply, Thomas believes that affirmative action is a white program for white people.

We see this argument in Grutter v. Bollinger, a 2003 affirmative-action case concerning the University of Michigan Law School. In the early nineteen-nineties, the school adopted an affirmative-action policy in order to create a more diverse student body. … [more]
clarencethomas  affirmitiveaction  elitism  admissions  colleges  universities  politics  polarization  law  conservativism  blacknationalism  race  racism  segregation  integration  inequality  prejudice  discrimination  rankings  grades  grading  richardwright  whitesaviorism  assimilation  supremecourt  liberalism  civilrights  coreyrobin  blakpanthers  blackpantherparty  meritocracy  hbus  solidarity  self-help  angeladavis  kathleencleaver  erickahuggins  bobbyseale  us  policy  activism  radicalism  cedricjennings  schools  busing  charleshamilton  blackpower  stokelycarmichael 
21 days ago by robertogreco
Twitter
And was pushed through by *checks notes* who *checks notes again* refused to allow testim…
JoeBiden  ClarenceThomas  from twitter_favs
4 weeks ago by stringsn88keys
Don’t be fooled by Johnson’s ‘diverse’ cabinet — Tory racism hasn’t changed
The new BAME cabinet members all supported the government that adopted these policies, so they clearly do not represent Britain’s black and Asian communities. For them, blue is the only colour that matters and they are some of the most rightwing figures even within the Tory party.

As minister for international development Patel pursued an aid policy that was more about promoting opportunities for British business – and she had to resign when it emerged she had held secret talks with the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. As home secretary, Sajid Javid stripped British teenager Shamima Begum of her citizenship. He also dramatically increased stop and search, ignoring the stark racial inequalities in how police use the powers.

As for Mirza, she believes institutional racism is a myth and said the Labour MP David Lammy’s review of inequality within the criminal justice system would “do more harm than good for black Britons”.

By parading a set of token figures to legitimise his agenda, Johnson is treading a well-worn path – one used by politicians across the ages to fool people into thinking they are witnessing a breakthrough in the fight against inequality. Under New Labour, Valerie Amos was ennobled and brought into cabinet, only to be sent to the 2001 United Nations conference on racism to explain why Britain would not call its role in transatlantic slavery a crime against humanity.

In the United States, Clarence Thomas was appointed by George Bush to the US supreme court in 1991. He has gone on to be the most conservative justice on the court, recently voting against overturning the death sentence of an African American defendant in a case where even Brett Kavanaugh (a Trump appointee) condemned the “relentless” attempts of prosecutors in Mississippi to get an all-white jury. And in 2004, Condoleezza Rice was said to be a sign of progress when she was appointed the first female African American secretary of state by George W Bush. But when Hurricane Katrina wrought havoc in 2005 she stayed on holiday and went shopping for shoes.

It was only a matter of time before Britain’s right wing embraced meaningless racial symbolism, and it should be no surprise the new era has been ushered in by Johnson. But do not be fooled: a cabinet packed with ministers with brown skin wearing Tory masks represents the opposite of racial progress.
by:KehindeAndrews  from:CommentIsFree  geo:UnitedKingdom  politics  race  BorisJohnson  PritiPatel  SajidJavid  JamesCleverly  AlokSharma  MuniraMirza  DavidLammy  ValerieAmos  ClarenceThomas  BrettKavanaugh  CondoleezzaRice 
11 weeks ago by owenblacker
Why Anita Hill Lost / Suzanne Garment (Commentary, 1992/01/01)
“People may have begun by tuning in the hearings for entertainment, but they stayed on to make sober judgments, and these judgments turned out to be radically different from those of the anti-Thomas activists who had first insisted on bringing the controversy out into the open.”
AnitaHill  ClarenceThomas  SuzanneGarment 
september 2018 by cbearden
Bodied | NGV
"These are not silly questions as much as it is silly to ask any question of whiteness. Wherever you and I are in space and time, see my hand wrist-deep inside my body, rooting around for the part of me that would stand in front of an Indiana courthouse and throb for Mike and not for myself, that would call that woman a liar. I would have to tear at that part roughly again and again, although I would like to excise it cleanly. My fantasy is its muffled thud into the tin of a medical bowl: a bloody fibroid, veiny womb-muscle, attached to nothing, growing entirely out of place."
2018  dericashileds  missyelliott  anitahill  desireewashington  billclinton  ronaldreagan  bodies  race  gender  clarencethomas  1997  1991  miketyson  1995  1992  music  hiphop  1993  2001  welfare  lindataylor  1996  saidyahartman  liberalism  us  exclusion  marginalization  citicalracetheory  abuse  hortensespillers  economics  politics  policy  racism  sexism  feminism  body 
january 2018 by robertogreco
Clarence Thomas Is Building a Majority By Dissent | The Weekly Standard
“Toobin's attempt to minimize Thomas's impact, on the occasion of his anniversary, is all the stranger when one notes that Toobin previously conceded Thomas's influence. In a 2011 article attacking Justice Thomas (and his wife) as a threat to the Affordable Care Act, Toobin quoted Yale's prominent constitutional scholar, Akhil Reed Amar, who praised Thomas in the strongest possible terms.”
ClarenceThomas  JeffreyToobin 
october 2016 by cbearden
Twitter
Listening to recount hearings, still can't let go of her savage quote about…
ClarenceThomas  from twitter_favs
september 2016 by andriak
3 Problems Of 'Confirmation,' HBO's Anita Hill History Rewrite
Some of us are old enough to remember the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation battle. We were shocked when reports first surfaced that Thomas, a well-regarded former chairman of the Equal
propaganda  revisionist  lying  clarenceThomas  HBO 
june 2016 by Jswindle

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