Clarence Thomas When I conjour the sole Black Supreme Court Justice’s name I’m often distracted by his personal shortcomings (see: Anita Hill), purported Uncle Tom-esque character (see also: Affirmative Action), and the fact that its widely believed that Thomas has failed to further Thurgood Marshall’s mastery of the court. Most Black Americans accept the charges I’ve levied against Justice Thomas as fact, but in the recently decided case of McDonald v. Chicago the Georgia native wakes from his slumber and strikes a chord that Black Americans should heed and respect.
McDonald v. Chicago is a contemporary Supreme Court case settled by a 5-4 vote, with the plurality voting in favor of McDonald’s (a 76 year old Black American) right to own a handgun in spite of Chicago law preventing said ownership. Clarence Thomas concurred with the majority but went out of his way to amplify the historic importance of the right to bear arms to the Black struggle against violent oppression in America. Thomas believes the 14th Amendment bestowed the booty of the 2nd Amendment on the newly crowned Negro citizens after emancipation, and this combination prevents States or City Townships from limiting these federal entitlements today.
In making his point, Clarence Thomas evokes Malcolm X’s most aggressive and militant prose when he pens “when the Ku Klux Klan and other white supremacist groups proliferated, the use of firearms for self-defense was often the only way black citizens could protect themselves against mob violence”. This declaration leads Associate Justice Thomas to conclude that “In my view, the record makes plain that the Framers of the Privileges or Immunities Clause and the ratifying-era public understood — just as the Framers of the Second Amendment did — that the right to keep and bear arms was essential to the preservation of liberty”.
Here Thomas is overtly claiming that his support for the uninhibited realization of the 2nd Amendment in McDonald is due to his experience growing up as a black man in the Jim Crow South. Thomas has made a decision on the nation’s highest court based on the sites he’s seen threw the eyes of a Negro, namely his own. The Justice is also reaffirming the belief that the right to bear arms is needed for the security of Black Americans to remain unchallenged. Huey Newton the great Black Panther predicted Thomas’ current fervor when he said “Any unarmed people are slaves, or are subject to slavery at any given moment”. Newton was clearly equating armaments with personal freedom, and as Thomas does correlates the security of Blacks with their ability (or inability) to defend their person.
Clarence Thomas the arch conservative, and enemy of the left leaning Black Lobby, is reminding his critics that he too would have been a slave in the fields. He too would have had to enter Woolworths threw its rear. And he too will fight to ensure that the American Negro never again is unable to defend himself against unabashed hatred and brutality. In McDonald v. Chicago Clarence Thomas has refocused his dedication to protecting the rights of Blacks and all those the 2nd Amendment seeks to empower. And with his fiery opinion Justice Thomas again reminds the Black Community that its folk heroes can/has/will come from personal backgrounds and political spheres of a diverse nature.
Clarence Thomas. Black Revolutionary. Better late than never.