Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Clarity: On Clarence Thomas and the Worth of Black Life

Yesterday my dad sent me an article from Slate Magazine about a Supreme Court decision written by Clarence Thomas that effectively argued that a black man, John Thompson wrongfully convicted because of evidence suppressed by 5 Louisiana prosecutors does not deserve the 14 million dollars that he was awarded as damages for his 14 years on death row for a crime he did not commit and 18 years served in prison unjustly even by the meager standards of prison justice we deal with in the contemporary US. (And yes, it matters to me that John Thompson, like my father and like Clarence Thomas is a black man in the United States.) I want to be as surprised as I am outraged that of all the conservative Supreme Court "Justices" to write this decision it would be Clarence Thomas, but that would be ridiculous.

I cannot forget that years ago my father told me that he considered it a "cruel joke" and an "insult" when he first heard the announcement that on the retirement of Thurgood Marshall, genius for justice and civil rights hero, a mediocre sellout Reagan appointee to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission named Clarence Thomas was named by Bush One as the person to succeed Marshall and become the second ever African American supreme court justice. I was only 11 years old when the national government blatantly showed in hearings (which I was mostly not allowed to watch) that black men who would disrespect and lie about and betray black women would be rewarded by white men who could more quietly continue to do the same thing, when Thomas somehow claimed to be lynched by a fellow conservative and black female lawyer Anita Hill who spoke out against his practice of sexual harassment. And as psychologist and psychotherapist Dr. Alvin Wyman Walker says in The Conundrum of Clarence Thomas: An Attempt at a Psychodymanic Understanding "What can you say about a man who savages his sister?" (In reference to an instance when (In)Justice Thomas called his sister dependent and pathological for receiving a welfare check...which come to find out she was using during a short time to support their sick relatives who Thomas had abandoned-not that it should actually matter why she was receiving a welfare check anyway.) Indeed, what CAN you say about a man who savages his sister? You can say that he will certainly not feel accountable to any of us, brethren included, that he will turn against anyone, and especially anyone black if given the slightest opportunity. And now Thomas has taken his opportunity to justify a an attempted lynching (John Thompson narrowly escaped the electric chair 7 times during his years on death row.)

It is not a surprise that the Supreme Court would want to invalidate a decision that a black man who is wrongfully convicted in Louisiana deserves 14 million dollars for the cruelty that he has experienced. Imagine if ALL of the people of color wrongfully convicted with shady evidence received a million dollars for every year they have unjustly spent in prison....

To read the rest of the article visit The Feminist Wire

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