[Straight From The Maverick] A Presidental Case for Affirmative Action

30 Sep

It’s too bad that Sen. Barack Obama, when he is elected as this country’s next president, cannot remove Clarence Thomas from the Supreme Court bench. But Obama’s election as president will serve as an effective counterargument why affirmative action remains necessary.

Affirmative action, if used correctly by the intended beneficiary, justifies the spirit of its intent: when given the opportunity to enter into an arena, a person can author his or her own destiny and not allow someone else to dictate what that destiny may behold.

Whether Thomas, or any of those who espouse his ideology, is willing to acknowledge it or not, is a man scorned by his failure to successfully launch his legal aspirations following his graduation from Yale University. His own arguments and legal opinions are nothing more than vitriol against the very legal landmark that made possible for him to pursue higher education more than three decades ago.

Thomas has articulated in speaking engagements and in his published memoir that he felt belittled and inferior when he went on job interviews. It’s apparent to me that Thomas’ assumption was that his degree from Yale was all that was needed to get him a job a many of the law firms that he applied to. I suspect that Thomas simply did not convince his interviewers that he was worthy of employment; that’s a problem that still haunts him to this day as a sitting Justice.

Conversely, while Obama’s admission to Harvard’s law school may be construed as being a beneficiary of affirmative action, his success is marked by being elected as president of the school’s prestigious Law Review. His academic success merited internship opportunities at prestigious law firms. And upon graduation, he had his choice to work at any law firm that he applied for, but he turned them down in favor of pursuing community organizer work in Chicago.

My life experience has taught me that no matter what the preconceived opinion might have been against me, it’s my responsibility as a black man to prove that I am more superior to those opinions. There may be those who may who have reacted to my exuding confidence as arrogant, and thereby they did not hire me. But there were those who embraced it as an attribute and appreciated it. Hence, in my own small way, I also believe the successes that I’ve attained in my professional endeavors only confirm Martin Luther King’s hope that I’ve ultimately been judged by the content of my character and not by the color of my skin.

Obama’s election as president would be an argument that also confirms King’s dream. It also would confirm the legal victories achieved by Thurgood Marshall and the legislative victory of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 that signed into law by Lyndon Johnson. It also is a reminder that affirmative action still serves a necessary instrument to keep in check those individuals who hold fast to discrimination on the basis or race and gender.

It is clearly obvious that Thomas has proven to be a man void of character and content. His career is an example for those who decry why affirmative action should not exist. Thomas has rejected affirmative action out of his own failure to prove his superiority when given the opportunity; and when given the opportunity, he’s sought every legal argument possible to reverse it.

In turn, Thomas’ actions imply that he rejects being black, the dreams and struggles of King, Marshall, and those before him, just as every other black person who shares in his opinion.

Posted By Sam B. Redd to Straight From The Maverick at 9/28/2008 04:06:00 PM


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