An Enigma: a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand.
Judge Thomas is back in the news in an effort to tarnish The Supreme Court. I’ve just finished The Enigma of Clarence Thomas by author, Corey Robin. The book focuses on Justice Thomas’s jurisprudence. It is fascinating, readable, difficult for me to understand at times because of what I thought I knew. Thomas is the longest-serving justice on the current Supreme Court joining October 18, 1991. His imprint will be long and deep.
My interest in the Court was rekindled after watching the Brett Kavanaugh hearings for his nomination to the Supreme Court. (October 8, 2018.) I was and remain appalled over his treatment by a committee full of Presidential wanna-be’s trying to impress the country with what (hard-asses) they could be. I have mentioned in another blog post about reading Franklin Roosevelt’s nominations to the Court, equally informative. A book called The Scorpions.
Watching the Council Meeting on you.Tube tonight, I reacted to what an enigma the citizens who spoke can be. There were those who said how wrong it is to criticize Councilman Knight or his bad behavior, because it is an attempt to stifle black speech. Of course, that ‘white woman’ was back at her guard post on the city wall, but she should be stifled. It’s complicated, don’t you see.
Watching the meeting, I reacted to the indignation that Mr. Knight’s supporters showed. Their position is that his conduct is warranted and what was unspoken; ‘how dare you’ think otherwise.
The black/white division sometimes seems insurmountable. But Mr. Knight’s attitude and conduct are unsupportable. I read the Clarence Thomas book not only because of my interest in the Court, but to shed light on how in Rocky Mount, NC in 2023 we have this black divide that we work so hard to maintain. I hear the line from the song in the back of my mind: the more things seem to change, the more they stay the same.
I’m always interested in the journey people are on that involves change and growth. Thomas met with the tenets and practices of black nationalism and Black Power as an undergraduate at the College of the Holy Cross. 19 blacks were admitted to this all male school at that time. He devoured the speeches of Malcolm X and could recite from them twenty years later. In the 1970’s, Thomas began moving to the right. In 1981, he joined the Reagan administration. Despite his political turn, Thomas has never lost touch with the racial separatism of his early years.
On the court, Thomas has continued to believe and to argue that race matters; that racism is a constant, perhaps ineradicable feature of American life. Though I am tempted to include long passages from Robin’s book, I can hearing you asking, “Goodness, Stepheny, linking Clarence Thomas and Rocky Mount?
Thomas is a black man whose conservatism is overwhelmingly defined by and oriented toward the interests of black people, as he understands them. The author’s central claim of the book is that Thomas is a black nationalist whose conservative jurisprudence rotates around an axis of black interest and concerns. In no way did I grasp the totality of Clarence Thomas, but I will remain an interested party in the life and brilliance of this man. I will continue to admire the enigma he certainly is. Justice Thomas is a black conservative who still embraces his early tenants but continues to grow in wisdom and stature representing his black experience.
Thomas Sowell is one of the American men I admire. He says, “economics, (is) the medium of black transformation and progress.” The $75K coming our way to build strategies acknowledges that sound economics are key to solving the issues of poor black Rocky Mount residents. I will add, and to white, brown citizens too. Surely what is learned will then be applied across the board. I appreciated the decorum this evening after last week’s disaster, but still felt weary with how hard finding unity is. I support Crystal Wimes-Anderson’s declaration that coming together in prayer for the city is the way to move forward.
Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin grew up in Evanston, IL. and is a graduate of the University of Kentucky. She is an author of two novels: The Greening of a Heart and Facing East. She lives, writes and gardens in NC. Visit her: Stephenyhoughtlin.com
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5 thoughts on “The Enigma of Rocky Mount’s City Council Public Comments – April 24, 2023”
I am delighted to be one of your followers on Facebook am also a lover of garden plant and flowers I no expert on government matters but you help me see both sides of the story and I am glad every day can be a bright day when I see you your face and hear you word for the week thank you Stepheny Forgue Houghtlin
Thomas is an embarrassment to the Court and to the United States of America.
Thanks for taking the time to read this latest blog. I know Thomas is controversial and part of wanting to read the book was to understand a bit more about why. The book helped in that matter since he is considered more conservative, than people approve of. Keep me company on my Main Street bench.
Have you done a book with your annual postings? I would sure like to buy 2023.