When George Bush announced the appointment of Clarence Thomas to Justice Marshall's vacated Supreme Court seat he did not do it at midnight but in the clear light of day with Clarence standing by his side. Clarence knew that there would be hell to pay for this nomination. He did not want it, so he writes in his memoir.
If you are old enough to recall the story behind this story about one black man’s struggle to win confirmation to the highest court in the land, then you would be tempted, as I was, to start in the back of the book. I wanted to read the last chapter first. Yes, I had to know how he handled those now-infamous hearings. Thomas coined “high-tech lynching” to describe them. Anita M. Hill was not only a former employee of Thomas’ but she followed him from one job to another. But we are getting ahead of this story.
Clarence has written this memoir to clear the air of his soul. He says it is to pay tribute to the man who raised him selflessly. A man who never showed affection but loved Clarence and his brother as his own. But I think that he has written this book to clear his name and his place in history.
Clarence Thomas was born and raised in Pin Point, Georgia, an area where Gullah is still spoken. This area is an anthropological treasure trove because of African roots deeply buried in its soil and in the black people born and raised there. In a sense an area forgotten by time and a place that Thomas himself would rather forget. He is no doubt the son of former slaves and has a high percentage of African blood coursing through his veins.
Where an African American was born in this country largely determined his or her racial makeup. It also determines which European group contributed to his or her bloodline. Therefore one is tempted to believe, as I did before reading this memoir, that Thomas was a victim of his own self-pity at being born a very black man in a very white (surrounding) world. My suspicions that his black skin makes him self-conscious was confirmed by reading his memoir. The kids in elementary school tease him. His nickname “ABC” America’s blackest child, stings badly when it lands on Clarence’s young soul, he runs to the comfort of books and chores.