Saturday, February 16, 2008

Clarence Thomas Biography

Today I attended a discussion and book signing with Kevin Merida and Michael Fletcher, Washington Post associate editor and staff writer, respectively, and authors of the biography, "Supreme Discomfort: The Divided Soul of Clarence Thomas."

Both Merida and Fletcher assert that part of their project is to interrogate Thomas' racial identity; that is, what are the factors that construct Thomas' sense of race. While Thomas' autobiography points to incidents from his childhood and formative years meted out by black schoolmates and colleagues that indelibly scarred him, Merida and Fletcher's research, which includes interviews with childhood friends and classmates, tells a different story. Thomas would not grant an interview to Merida or Fletcher, and when Merida and Fletcher forwarded a copy of their published biography of Thomas to him, according to the authors, Thomas' secretary returned the book.

Both Merida and Fletcher argue that much of the pain of discrimination by blacks that Thomas claims to have suffered is not remembered by those persons who were intimately connected to Clarence Thomas during these years. It seems that while Thomas' autobiography is directed towards settling old scores and supporting the mythic Horatio Alger rise from rags to riches narrative that seems to be the requisite background for all successful U.S. blacks, Merida and Fletcher's biography reveals the financial support that Thomas received from his grandfather until Thomas decides to withdraw from Seminary school, career guidance and support by African Americans during key moments in his career, and continuous engagement and encouragement from conservative whites and African Americans.

Merida and Fletcher's biography of Clarence Thomas provides an in-depth examination of the factors in Thomas' life that have made him the man that he is. Although Thomas rarely gives credit to the social and political forces as well as the individuals who helped him achieve his success, Merida and Fletcher's biography reminds readers that no person, including Clarence Thomas, achieves success solely through their own efforts. If you are the least bit curious about accessing a more balanced view of the second black U.S. Supreme Court justice, I strongly suggest that you read Merida and Fletcher's biography of the honorable Clarence Thomas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'll check it out.

Still, and I know this sounds really superficial,

I have never felt him or any connection to him. He seems....

never mind, I shouldn't be like that. (sigh) But I ain't feelin' him.