Clarence Thomas Is The Black Person Clarence Thomas Warned You About

The Supreme Court justice has been all the things he claims to hate: a welfare queen, a duplicitous double agent, a diversity hire, a beneficiary of reparations, and a minstrel show.
Justice Clarence Thomas in 2022.
Justice Clarence Thomas in 2022.
via Associated Press

It’s 2006, and the Arizona Cardinals might as well be called the “Arizona Trash Cans,” because their play on the field had been stinking up the place. They were 1-4 and set to face the Chicago Bears, who were the darlings of the league with a 5-0 record on Monday Night Football. Two Black head coaches were facing off against each other, Chicago’s Lovie Smith and Arizona’s Dennis Green, and Smith’s comments about a preseason game in which the Cardinals won was getting under Green’s skin.

Smith called the win a “glorified practice” and said the Cardinals would really see what the Bears were about during this regular season game. What most people don’t remember from that game is that the Cardinals were destroying the Bears in the first three quarters, having built a 23-3 lead going into the fourth. And then the bottom fell out. The Bears came all the way back to win the game.

What’s funny is none of that is even remembered. Nothing about the game or that more than one Black head coach once existed in the NFL.

Everyone only talks about this one point: After the game, despite being asked about the defense, Green shouted out:

“They are who we thought they were!”

This is a story about Clarence Thomas

For forty years Clarence Thomas has been an albatross for Black people, an arbiter of “do as I say, not as I do” politics, a mime whose silence on the bench has been deafening. And, he’s been all the things he claims to hate about Black people: He’s a welfare queen, a duplicitous double agent, a diversity hire, a beneficiary of reparations and a minstrel show.

And Anita Hill tried to warn us.

She tried to tell us that Thomas was inappropriate at best and vile at worst. She tried to tell us that Thomas was not the man he presented himself as. He was not an upstanding man of good moral character.

A Black woman once again tried to save America from itself, but America doesn’t care about Black women.

Having followed the infallible Thurgood Marshall onto the Supreme Court, Thomas had all the intangibles needed to become a freedom fighter. He grew up dirt-poor in South Carolina and initially wanted to become a priest, until he realized the Catholic church was full of racism.

But something happened as Thomas began his climb to the highest court in the land. Instead of making the road easier for Black folks who would come behind him, he resented them for not having to work as hard as he did. He became the uncle who walked uphill forty-six miles both ways in the snow just to get to school, and he hated that we didn’t. Instead of breaking down walls of racism, the same racism that’d held him back, he ensured that hurdle stayed on the track.

It was a strange twist to watch a man who compared his sexual harassment hearing to a “high-tech lynching” by exclaiming, “Unless you kowtow to an old order, this is what will happen to you. You will be lynched, destroyed, caricatured by a committee of the U.S. Senate, rather than hung from a tree.”

It was a powerful statement about race relations and what it means for a Black man to reach heights of power in this country, despite all of the systemic pitfalls along the way.

And then Thomas made it onto the Supreme Court, and promptly began kowtowing to an old order. It’s like Thomas no longer had a need for his Blackness, which at that point had become more a burden than a badge.

There is no pride in him. There is no connection to the impoverished kid whose first language was Gullah and the man that sits on the bench today. And you know who doesn’t care? Thomas.

At this point he’s literally phoning it in. Recently, Thomas went missing from his job — you know, the job that has him on the bench of the highest court in all the land — and no one knew. He just didn’t show up to work.

“As the justices convened to hear arguments in two cases, Chief Justice John Roberts announced that Thomas would not be taking the bench but would ‘participate fully,’ based on the briefs and transcripts from the proceedings,” CBS reported at the time. “No further information about Thomas was given.”

Thomas’ pension is full. He’s daring someone to discipline him, because he knows that he’s coasting at a job that no longer serves him, and he’s given up even acting like he gives a shit. He’s the employee who has turned in his two weeks’ notice and has begun taking two-hour lunches with impunity.

To date, Thomas hasn’t been reprimanded for laws he’s broken — and make no mistake, he’s broken laws. Thomas still has yet to speak in any substantial context about the gifts he’s received will serving on the Supreme Court. (And when I say gifts, we aren’t just talking about a “Worst Supreme Court Justice” placard, we are talking about considerable amounts of tricking from very wealthy men, including, according to ProPublica, at least 38 vacations and two stays in luxury resorts in Florida and Jamaica.

And when Thomas’ most consistent benefactor, billionaire Harlan Crow, wasn’t flying him around on private jets, he also purchased Thomas’ mother’s house to allow her to live there rent-free, and paid for Thomas’s teenage grandnephew (whom Thomas raised as his son) to attend Hidden Lake Academy, a prestigious private boarding school which costs some $6,000 a month.

And I won’t even get started on his wife, Virginia ‘Ginni’ Thomas. She worked as a consultant for conservative legal activist Leonard Leo, who asked that she not be listed on billing paperwork but still paid her of thousands of dollars. And who can forget her infamous Jan. 6 text messages to the then-White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, telling him to “stand firm” as then-President Donald Trump tried to squat in his old digs.

Both Thomas and his wife have been allowed to continue living their hauntingly boring lives (I’m assuming their lives are boring since the money train has come to a halt) by simply feigning sympathy or ignorance, or both. Ginni Thomas claimed that she regrets sending the texts, and Clarence Thomas notes that despite twenty years of courting by some of the wealthiest Republicans in the world, he didn’t think he needed to disclose any of it because he’d received some bad ethics advice. To date, Thomas has not recused himself from any cases before the court, and despite his unexcused absence Monday, he hasn’t missed a beat.

And you know who couldn’t care less about all of this? Clarence Thomas. He’s never cared. For 10 years, a full decade, Thomas sat on the bench and never asked a single question during oral arguments. His silence was so loud that in 2013 he told a joke and America almost lost its mind. It made national headlines.

Want to know what the joke was? The joke was Clarence Thomas. (Seriously, you can read the joke here.)

Wait — here’s a better joke: Clarence Thomas is everything he claims to hate about people that look like him.

“For four decades, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has extolled the importance of ‘personal responsibility,’” Kali Holloway wrote in her piece, “Clarence Thomas Is What He Wrongly Accuses Black Folks of Being.”

“He has chastised those who ‘make excuses for black Americans’ and argued there is a need to ‘emphasize black self-help.’ He has denigrated affirmative action programs on the grounds that they ‘create a narcotic of dependency’ where there should be ‘an ethic of responsibility and independence.’ He bemoans the ‘ideology of victimhood’ that allows the marginalized to ‘make demands on society for reparations and recompense.’”

Funny how a man who supposedly despises reparations had no problem accepting handouts from billionaire friends. Thomas didn’t put in extra hours at work or find a nighttime job to help put his grandnephew through school. Nope, he took all the free money he could get his hands on. Thomas’ admission into Yale was one of the university’s first after they created an affirmative action program — the same program that Thomas effectively gutted as soon as he could.

But what’s most comical has to be Thomas’ statement during his vetting for the Supreme Court — the same courtroom drama in which Hill tried to warn America that Thomas had long been an embarrassment to those who came before him — when he claimed that the proceedings were a “high-tech lynching” against uppity Blacks who dare to think for themselves.

Good thing none of that has ever actually applied to Thomas. Thomas isn’t uppity, he’s raggedy. He always has been. And Hill tried to tell us this, but America doesn’t care about Black women. She told us how Clarence Thomas is exactly who we thought he was.

At least he’s consistent.

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