Recently, conservative Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas issued a statement stating that based on his experiences in both the North & South that “Northern Liberal Elites Are More Racist”. Many of you have asked my opinion so here goes:
One the one hand, many on the right are touting this as proof that racism is not so bad in the South & is exaggerated by the left. One the other hand many on the left are saying that this is further proof that Clarence Thomas is a sellout & that he is once again trying to assuage & appease white Conservatives. Well, the mistake Thomas makes (and this is not to take away from his experiences in both the North & South) is that his anecdotal evidence doesn’t mean that his experiences are the rule. Neither does mine or any of us. At best, he can say that this was his experience & concluding opinion based on that but that others may have had (or had/have) a different experience growing up in the South & North. See the difference? I could name at least 60-70 people who are the same age as Thomas whom I know personally, who would & have said differently.
It must also be taken into account that Thomas grew up in a somewhat isolated, predominantly black community near Savannah, Ga founded by freed slaves. Most of the people he grew up with were black, so his experience would be different from a black person who grew up in Montgomery, Atlanta or Birmingham during that time. It’s intellectually dishonest (and irresponsible) on his part & ours to ignore that. People are using his anecdotes as proof that liberal whites “are” more “racist”, a word that gets tossed around so frequently that it has all but lost it’s potency. Now, on the other hand, my friends on the left, to call Thomas a sellout or “Uncle Tom” (a misnomer really) or accuse him of lying to lessen the experiences of racism in the South or exaggerate those in the North is unfair as well. You’re the same people who came to Obama’s defense after he issued a statement in the aftermath of the Zimmerman verdict (and I agreed with you) that those attacking Obama’s experiences/anecdotes of racism/discrimination growing up were wrong to accuse him of lying. They weren’t there, they don’t know what he experienced & generally speaking, you simply cannot tell a person what their experiences was. Well, that same thing must be applied to Clarence Thomas! You can’t tell him what he did or did not experience growing up in the South or living in the North. He has no obligation to say that the South was more racist than the North just because he has black skin, especially if that was not his reality. His experience is his own & you can’t dictate it or take it away from him because it doesn’t follow a historical narrative. Please get that.
There’s an old saying in the South from that time, that “In the South they (whites) don’t care how close you get as long as you don’t get too high, in the North they (whites) don’t care how high you get as long as you don’t get too close” – Is one group of whites more racist than another? Well, it depends on who you ask but I say during that time you had some racism from both, most likely in equal amounts but not equivalent.That’s all I have to say to all about this. Until next time…