Thomas is a sellout, not a hero, for black Americans
In his column ["Black community needs a leader like Thomas," Oct. 18], with points patched together like pieces in a hand-sewn quilt, Jae H. Nam '93 argued that the black community, "a community in search of identity," should look towards Clarence Thomas as a strong leader who can instill a "sense of pride" in his people. Unfortunately, while Nam had the insight and bravery to identify some of the problems facing blacks in American today, his solution to those problems is simplistic and ignores the roots of the problems themselves.
First, black Americans are not facing an identity crisis, and
I cannot make that assertion strongly enough. Contrary to what Nam thinks, blacks are not learning how to be black from television sets or Black Acting School. The problem is not that blacks lack identity; the problem is that Black-American culture is frowned upon by the mainstream into which it is forced to fit. While whites have propagated their culture and many other ethnic groups have assimilated to their satisfaction, blacks have actively fought against such cultural dilution. The gold, fancy cars, and nice clothes that are sought by many black youths are indicative of misplaced values that are ill-representative of blacks as
a whole. But American media seems to enjoy promoting this image to mainstream America, and Nam seems to have picked up on it rather well. No, these material items are not "the substance of success." But, then again, neither are the achievements of Clarence Thomas.
The story that everyone loves to tell about Clarence Thomas is that of a poor, downtrodden Negro from Georgia who worked hard and overcame insurmountable obstacles to eventually become a Supreme Court justice. But while I am happy that Thomas was able to overcome adversity, I do not think that he was exactly at the greatest depths of despair. If you are one of thousands of young blacks who must lie, run, duck, hide, fight, and perhaps even kill just to stay alive, it is hard to believe that Clarence Thomas knows hard times.
If every government authority that you've ever known, from employers to school-teachers to your friendly neighborhood police officer gives you negative feedback, Clarence Thomas is a sellout, not a hero. That Nam can expect blacks nationwide to forget their correct ideologies and make an about-face in beliefs to follow Thomas is absurd. Thomas has done nothing for the black community, and there is no indication that he will bring us anything but grief. Thomas' is simply another case of a black who, because of having views
in line with those of the power structure, was able to reap some personal benefit and given some status. It is by no means a success story.
My father once told me that a great man does not become great by doing great things for himself. Hence, Clarence Thomas will be no leader of mine, thank you.
If Nam believes that Thomas is such a great guy, then he can follow Thomas to Washington and back, because I don't have time to think about who would make a great leader for our community; I must concentrate on becoming one.
Chip Morton '93->