Tuesday, July 25, 2023

The Greatest Beneficiary of Affirmative Action Is....


Subscribe to My Blog!

July 10, 2023

The Greatest Beneficiary


Affirmative Action






No one has benefited more from Affirmative Action

than Clarence Thomas.

There are actually TWO kinds of affirmative action. Justice Thomas has benefitted greatly from both.


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!

Ya think?

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."


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.

Wait! What?

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

No comments:

Post a Comment