Archive for ‘Professor Anita Hill’

March 20, 2008


by MullOverThis

In 1991, now Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas was the first staunchly conservative Republican African-American Supreme Court appointee. Aforetime, African-American people had enjoyed at least one honorable brother on the bench in the person of Justice Thurgood Marshall. Marshall was instrumental in forging the reversal of Jim Crow laws and securing civil rights for African-Americans in this country. Racism was still bleeding. During Thomas’ confirmation hearings, he firmly withstood racist questioning which presupposed that Thomas was not as intellectual as his Caucasion counterparts. He berated the confirmation committee by calling the process a “…circus…”, “…sick…”, and “…a high tech lynching”. Any African-American who has been in upper echelon academia, business or intellectual settings can probably agree with how Thomas must have felt. Regardless of independent achievements, folks oftentimes think that some other factors must be at play to explain the brillance of an accomplished African American.

So, when the charges of sexual harrassment were levied against Thomas, this too came into the backdrop of lynching another “uppity” negro. Anita Hill’s credibility, professional experience, record of the incidents, and testimony was heard, but did not trump Thomas’ repeated denial of all allegations. Although I was much younger back then, I remember thinking why would this woman tarnish her reputation to lie against this man? What amount of money, if she were bribed, could be worth the stigma? She is a well-established professional woman with much to lose. Thomas denied the allegations. Hill becomes questionably known as a liar who Democrats conjured to thwart Thomas’ appointment. Sexism was bleeding too.

Although most sexual harrassment and assaults against women are not baseless, the minute incidence that is proven to be false becomes the concentration. Experts play on this common belief which serves to discourage women from opening their mouths, cause “no one will believe me anyway”. Hill’s detailed allegations caused an upsurgence of support from women’s rights organizations and brought the treatment of sexual harrassment in the workplace to the limelight.

Thomas was appointed, and has been relatively quiet during most questioning sessions before the Supreme Court. While his silence may be construed as that of an inferior mind, Thomas has bluntly stated that he need not compete with the other super-verbose justices who routinely excavate all the necessary information for issuing a judgment anyway. He does not engage in needless calisthenics to prove his competency. Supreme Court decisions written by Thomas prove that not only has he been competent, but also has been stellar at succintly writing decisions.

Yet, almost 17 years later, Thomas’ career thus far is not only clouded as being one who waited for Scalia to know how to think, but also wonders whether he has every really been truthful. In Thomas’ 2007 book “My Grandfather’s Son”, he dubbs Anita Hill as “most traitorous adversary”. Hill, currently a law professor, maintains her testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee during Thomas’ appointment hearings were true. Hill penned, “Speaking Truth to Power” (Doubleday, 1997) which gives more information about her experiences with working for Justice Clarence Thomas. Hill has proven to be a gem in academia.   Her testimony caused the barometer examining sexual discrimination in the workplace to prescribe greater scrutiny and procedural safeguards today.