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26.05.2022 Feature Article

Clarence Thomas Never Left the Old Thomas Plantation – Part 1

Clarence Thomas Never Left the Old Thomas Plantation – Part 1
26.05.2022 LISTEN

I was at Temple University’s Graduate School, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, feverishly working for both my Master’s and Doctoral degrees in Global African Studies – or Pan-African Studies – in 1991, when the now senior-most Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) of America was confirmed by the Joseph R. Biden, Jr., -chaired Senate Judiciary Committee to sit on the highest court of the land. I watched most of the Supreme Court’s confirmation hearings riveted to my television set and was not the least bit impressed with or amused by the virulent attempts by the mostly well-regarded African American Civil Rights Leaders from the 1950s and the 1960s to ensure that the Yale Law School-educated former Head of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) would not get confirmed to sit on the SCOTUS, as only the second African American to do so after the recently retired Justice Thurgood Marshall. At the time of his Supreme Court nomination by then-President George Herbert Walker Bush, or President George Bush, Sr., to replace Justice Marshall, Justice Clarence Thomas was a US Appeals Court Judge.

I was particularly warm to the idea of Mr. Thomas’ being confirmed to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States because like me, the man looked stereotypically Ghanaian and Black African, an authentically Blackman, that is, contrasted with the retired Justice Thurgood Marshall who could have easily passed for a Whiteman at some point while growing up in pursuit of his stellar legal career, although I had also learned that Justice Marshall had faced a lot of anti-African and anti-African American racism from ultraconservative and your garden variety or thoroughgoing Ku Klux Klan-type white nationalists, including the summary denial of admission into the University of Virginia Law School. Now, this was something emotionally and psychologically traumatizing for an indigenous Ghanaian citizen or national who grew up with, in retrospect, the grossly misguided belief that the United States of America of the late 1960s and the early 1970s and, perhaps, even a little beyond, was the most ideal place on Planet Earth for just about anybody, and especially Continental Africans in search of opportunities to advance in life intellectually and professionally to aspire to be.

I only faintly had any ideas about the tragic heroism of the titan likes of the immortalized Rev.-Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Black Muslim Minister and Human Rights Leader Mr. Malcolm (Little) X and, of course, the indomitable Mr. Medgar Evers, the Black Civil Rights Activist savagely gunned down in front of his own house in 1963, in the State of Mississippi, because Mr. Evers had dared to legally register some of his own Black-African people to vote, thereby making them literally rub shoulders as the coequals of their hitherto white first-class citizens and sociopolitical overlords. You see, growing up in Ghana, I had not been aware of the fact that even the British-colonized Ghanaian subject had acquired the franchise, as we presently and practically know it, well before his/her African American kinsmen and clanswomen hereabouts in the globally touted most advanced and industrialized modern democracy.

At any rate, what motivated me to staunchly back President George Herbert Walker Bush, or the Elder President Bush’s nomination of Justice Thomas for a seat on the United States’ Supreme Court was, the quiet but palpably inescapable Mulatto Supremacist Subculture that existed within the African American Community, whereby the latter group of privileged half-African descended people seemed to feel an imperious sense of entitlement towards the ready and prompt accessing of whatever crumbs of power and other privileges pertaining thereunto that were niggardly ceded Black and African Americans born and bred right here in the United States of America.

You see, Back in 1991, any critically thinking and observant Continental African born living in the United States could have readily picked up the vibe, as it were, which subtly pointed to the inescapable fact that the fierce resistance from the African American Community to the nomination of Justice Clarence Thomas to sit on the Supreme Court of the United States, he had hitherto been serving as a United States’ Appeals Court Judge for close to two years, if memory serves yours truly accurately, almost equally had as much to do with Justice Thomas’ stereotypical Negritude as it had to do with his widely unpopular “White-Conservative Perspectives” and ideological outlook on American jurisprudence and on nearly everything American.

To tell you the truth, Dear Reader, I personally did not the least bit concur with any position that was widely known to have been taken on policy issues pertaining to the shabby treatment and the collective destiny of nonwhite people resident right here in These United States of America, including the quixotic anti-Affirmative Action stance of our discursive subject. The man seemed to be so pathologically alienated from the Diasporan African Experience as to dangerously verge on the downright neurotic. But the good news here, paradoxically though it might have seemed, was the fact that Mr. Thomas had been born and brought up right here in the United States of America; and here in America, of course, the laws of the land permitted him to freely stake out any position that he even capriciously decided was his proverbial cup of tea. The man clearly and eerily seemed to hew dangerously towards the politically and ideologically suicidal.

Even so, I was unabashedly convinced that the choice was exclusively all of his to make whichever way the pendulum swung on his imaginative scale. So, I staunchly backed him up and even wrote and published several columns in a Nigerian-owned newspaper called the Nigerian News Digest, later renamed the African News Weekly, that was published out of Ashville, North-Carolina, to express my views on why I deeply thought and felt that Justice Clarence Thomas was darn entitled to his own opinion and largely reactionary opinions and convictions on the seemingly amorphous and ambiguous and at once chaotic and tentative relationship between Black America and the rest of the United States of America.

*Visit my blog at: KwameOkoampaAhoofeJr

By Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., PhD

English Department, SUNY-Nassau

Garden City, New York

May 22, 2022

E-mail: [email protected]

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