There are actually TWO kinds of affirmative action. Justice Thomas has benefitted greatly from both.
THE FIRST KIND OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION:
Thomas was admitted to Yale Law School under their official publicly announced affirmative action program.
According to Newsweek:
A 1991 New York Times article about Thomas reported how Yale University officials said Thomas was admitted to its law school "under an explicit affirmative action plan with the goal of having blacks and other minority members make up about 10 percent of the entering class."
Professor Abraham S. Goldstein, dean of the law school, from 1970 to 1975, was quoted by the Times as saying: "We did adopt an affirmative action program and it was pretty clearly stated."
A 1994 Yale Alumni Magazine article underlines this, stating: "Like most American universities, Yale in the 1960s and '70s embarked on an aggressive policy of affirmative action in admitting and hiring minorities and women."
Thomas felt he was regarded differently from Caucasian students in the law school. He hated the fact that the professors and students presumed he was there as the result of Affirmative Action. They looked down on him. He said in a 1980 interview with the Washington Post:
"You had to prove yourself every day because the presumption was that you were dumb and didn't deserve to be there on merit. Every time you walked into a law class at Yale it was like having a monkey jump down on your back from the Gothic arches....The professors and the students resented your very presence."
And in Thomas's 2007 memoir:
"As much as it stung to be told that I'd done well in the seminary despite my race, it was far worse to feel that I was now at Yale because of it."
But why didn't he quit Yale and apply to a less prestigious law school where he wouldn't have to suffer in that way?
Maybe because he felt it was worth the suffering to have a degree from Yale Law School!
Thomas made a choice, by remaining at Yale. Now he has denied that choice to the Black students of today. As an MSNBC commentator said, "He has pulled up the ladder behind him."
THE SECOND KIND OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION:
This is the informal, unspoken kind, and it is practiced in a particularly brazen way by the Republican party.
Most Black people who are political are Democrats.The Democrats represent, far more fully than the Republicans, the interests of people who are poor and of people who face discrimination of any kind. So when the Democrats start looking around for people to appoint or support, they have a reasonably big pool of qualified Black people to choose from.
The Republicans, on the other hand, have a much smaller number of Black people. Conservatives are desperate to find Black people willing to carry their flag, so they can prove they aren't racists and attract more non-whites to the party.
Sooo... in 1974 Clarence Thomas:
Graduated from Yale Law School,
Was admitted to the Missouri bar,
Was appointed Assistant Attorney General of the State of Missouri.
Someone who just graduated Law School (even if it was YALE Law School) becomes Assistant Attorney General for a whole STATE?!?
I don't believe that Clarence Thomas, fresh out of law school, would have received that appointment if he wasn't a Black man who was very conservative.
Therefore, AGAIN he benefitted from affirmative action, this time an effort by conservative Republicans to increase their percentage of appointments of Black people, by appointing someone who is not supportive, or even AGAINST, the interests of Black people. This is the great irony of informal affirmative action. It is often used AGAINST the interests group that the appointee belongs to.
And finally, in 1991, Thomas was appointed to the absolute legal pinnacle, the Mount Everest of Courts, by a conservative Republican President. That particular seat was considered reserved for a Black jurist, because it had been held by the great Thurgood Marshall, the first Black Supreme Court justice.
This was ironic affirmative action at its most horrible. Marshall's seat was given to this mediocre, right-wing Black man with very little legal experience. During the hearings, the Black community was split between those who felt it was essential to have a Black judge on the Supreme Court and those who feIt the representation wasn't worth having someone so totally against the interests of Black people. It was a tragic situation. Marshal must have been spinning in his grave.
At every point in his legal career, Thomas has benefitted from either explicit or implicit affirmative action . He knows it and everyone ELSE knows it. I think that really irks him. He just wants explicit affirmative action, which gave him his first big leg up (but also caused him much emotional discomfort) to disappear. The whole idea is embarrassing to him. He got HIS. No need for affirmative action programs any more!
Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson, on the other hand, is totally comfortable with being an explicit affirmative action choice by President Biden. She's had more experience as a trial judge than any other Supreme Court appointee in the last 100 years. She KNOWS she's qualified, whether she benefitted from affirmative action or not on her journey to the top.
That's why Justice Thomas can't stand Justice Jackson. In his concurring opinion to the decision to eliminate affirmative action, Thomas went out of his way to personally attack Jackson -- even though the dissent had been written, not by Jackson, but by Justice Sotomayor. He attributed many ridiculous ideas to Jackson. He said, among other things, that in Justice Jackson's view "almost all of life's outcomes may be unhesitatingly ascribed to race."
Of course Jackson never said or thought this, but she found it just dandy to be attacked by Thomas. It gave her a wonderful opportunity to knock down all of his arguments.
She wrote. among other things:
"Justice Thomas ignites too many more straw men to list, or fully extinguish, here. The takeaway is that those who demand that no one think about race (a classic pink elephant paradox) refuse to see, much less solve for, the elephant in the room -- the race-linked disparities that continue to impede achievement of our great nation's full potential."
I'm really interested to see how things plays out with two Black justices on the Supreme Court -- two Black justices who agree on absolutely nothing. Let Justice Thomas have his say. I'm putting my money on Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson.
Dear Bloggellinis: I'm having trouble writing BAUMblog on a regular basis, even though I've got a whole traffic jam of blog ideas in my head right now. I don't know why it's so hard for me to get myself to sit down and do it, when I enjoy the process and love your responses. Maybe it's that the blog -- more than anything else I've ever done, more than theater -- is about me asserting myself in the world. And there's something in me that can't believe I have the right to do that.
Nelson Mandela said, "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." Those words really resonate with me. I think we all need to figure out how we can be powerful beyond measure. Terry
When I was a kid, Fourth of July meant a pool party and barbecue in my parents' friends' backyard. We never watched fireworks. I don't think there were any to go to. Just a pool party was fine with me. If I'm splashing around in the water, I'm happy.
When I was in my 30s. I once had an Independence Day party in my garden. We actually took turns reading the Declaration of Independence out loud until we'd done the whole document. I remember thinking, "Gee, it doesn't sound so terrible, what the British did. I mean, it wasn't RIGHT. But compared to all the atrocities that countries have committed against their colonies, it wasn't so bad!" Then I asked my assembled friends -- about 20 were present -- to raise their hands if they would have been eligible to vote in the new country that the Declaration created. Only one friend raised his hand. He was the only white male who owned property in my garden. That one solitary raised hand made a big impression on me. The democracy we live in NOW is still kinda-sorta. But it was hardly a democracy at ALL when it began.
And yet, it was undeniably a huge step at the time.
THIS YEAR'S FOURTH OF JULY
This is Tara and Nella, the Amazing WonderDog, with the Pups, during a trip to the beach last year:
Richmond is across the Bay from San Francisco. They have their fireworks every year on a barge in the Bay, on July 3rd.That presumably allows people to see fireworks two days in a row, since they could cross the Bay on the 4th to see the show in the Big City --- if it happened..
You see, there's always anxiety around Fourth of July fireworks in the Bay Area. Summer is fog season. Fog is the enemy of fireeworks. You end up standing there, shivering in the cold, praying a good stiff wind will blow the damn fog out of the way before the show is over, so you can see what's actually crackling and popping behind the clouds.
We stood on the wharf in Richmond, wrapped in coats and scarves, waiting for the show to start. It was a nice crowd. All ages, all colors. Lots of people, but not a big mob that crushed you. The sky was clear, at least where we were. But the fog was hanging around, oh yes. It blotted out our view of San Francisco across the Bay. Would it stay there through the show? Or would it travel east and ruin our evening?
We all cheered as the fireworks barge chugged by the wharf and then turned into a channel where it would perform. And then we waited.
Of course we waited. Does a fireworks show ever start on time? No! So part of seeing fireworks is spending a lot of time WAITING to see fireworks, because you should get there at least 45 minutes before they're SUPPOSED to start, so you'll get a good view. A little girl, 3-years-old maybe, standing in front of us, became very whiny and also very cold. Her daddy, who was a big big man, cuddled her and coaxed her to be patient.
And then finally, a half hour late, the show began.
The Little Girl shouted, as loud as she could, "I love it!!!!" I think it was her very first fireworks show.
This gives you a little bit of an idea. My camera seems to capture mainly the red tones. Anyhow, the fog very kindly agreed to stay away. Tara and the Little Girl and I oohed and ahed to our heart's content. WonderDog Nella, however, wasn't too crazy about the whole event. But she allowed herself to be consoled by the continual stream of treats Tara fed her.
Tara and I went home very happy, to her house, went to sleep and had a very nice breakfast the next morning. We were planning to take the ferry from Richmond to San Francisco at noon.
We had gotten up early and we had plenty of time, oodles of time, I mean we didn't have to hurry at ALL. You know how it is sometimes when you have SO MUCH time. We were just chatting about our lives, the world, whatever. YOU know. Suddenly Tara looked at the clock and it was noon and we had missed the ferry, so we BARTed into the city to go to the Asian Art Museum which, for some reason we thought was open.
Oh well. But not REALLY "oh well" because Tara and Nella had schlepped into town on BART, which isn't terrible but it's not the nicest way to spend your time, and now they would have to turn around and go home!
So we decided to take a stroll down Market Street. And I had to stop and take a photo of this lovely wall on the right, as is my wont. And Tara remembered that we had gone to a very nice rooftop bar right around the corner from that photogenic wall. Charmaine's Rooftop Bar and Lounge at 45 McAllister WAS open. They were having a party for Fourth of July, which you needed to buy a ticket to. However, the nice man simply couldn't resist two old dykes and a gorgeous service dog, so he just let us take the elevator up.
And we were the only ones there!
We both had fancy cocktails and we even danced to the pounding music.
The waitress, Lee Ann, was very friendly. And when it turned out that Tara's dog was named Nella, and Lee Ann had had a remarkable dog named NOLLA -- well, we all were delighted with the serendipity that had brought us all together on that rooftop on the Fourth of July.
And then people started arriving for the party. And it turned out it was a GAY party that we had stumbled into!
You can see in the photo on the right, the fog is ominously piling up behind Twin Peaks. Who knows if it'll flow over and block the San Francisco fireworks which of course won't be happening until it's dark?
Tara decided that she and Nella had had enough of the pounding disco. But I couldn't leave yet because I'd ordered a second cocktail. Not only did I have to finish it, I was a little wobbly already and not quite capable of going home. And then a very elegantly dressed man sat down on the bench across from me.
Sam and I started chatting, and he was charming enough to be impressed that I was a playwright. And when I told him about my last big show, about the true story of Eleanor Roosevelt's love affair with Lorena Hickok, a famous and very butch reporter, he was completely fascinated.
Well, there is NOTHING I
would rather do than tell someone about the saga of Hick and Eleanor. And it seemed there was nothing that Sam would rather do than hear that very saga. So we had a wonderful time together. Sam was wearing a very elaborate locket around his neck, which had the initial "G" on it. He told me it represented his husband, who had died. He said that having had this very deep and satisfying relationship "took the pressure off" of him finding someone new. I think he was saying that he was OPEN to getting romantically involved with someone again, but didn't have a DRIVE to find someone. He said, "It takes the pressure off" twice. I thought that was very interesting.
The photo below is of Sam with the man who let Tara and Nella and me in. He was the organizer of the party. His name was (something) Sincere. His last name was Sincere. He said to me, "You brought the party! You brought the party!" And I can see, when you're standing there wondering if ANYONE will show up, two old dykes and service dog would look really good to you.
Finally, I was ready to go home. I went underground to the MUNI station that has the theme, "I'm me, not meat."
How many cities have advertising campaigns like that in their subway stations? Huh? How many?? And they're saying "San Francisco is so OVER!" San Francisco is over, my ass! You tell this octopus below that San Francisco is OVER!
When I got off the Metro in the Castro, there was a very friendly man behind a table who was eager to tell me about a new religion in the neighborhood!
How exciting! Below you can read a little information on the new religion.
The friendly man told me there is a branch of the Church of Cosmic Consciousness just a few blocks away! And, if I join the Church, I will be able to buy SACRAMENTS -- but only for religious purposes, you understand. Why, they even deliver the sacraments to church members. These people are really SAINTLY!
Hmmm... As a Buddhist practitioner, I hear talk of Buddha Nature all the time. I'll bet there's a lot of overlap between that and Cosmic Consciousness! Having never tried psilocybin mushrooms in my youth, I might be open to adding another religion to the two I already have!
I wended my way home to the pups. I had no worry that they'd been freaked out by the continuous sound of firecrackers going off. You see, poodles were initially bred as hunting dogs and are therefore undisturbed by gunshot-like noise. At least my two are undisturbed. And there they were, sacked out on the couch.
A good Fourth of July was had by all!
All for now, Bloggellinis! Terry
Lilith Women's Theater | 547 Douglass St., San Francisco, CA 94114 www.LilithTheater.com