My Grandfather's Son: Clarence Thomas's Life

I just finished Justice Thomas's autobiography, My Grandfather's Son. It is excellent.

He was raised in Georgia by his grandparents, and as much as anything, the book is a tribute to his grandfather, Myers Anderson. It highlights that possibly the most important thing parents can teach their children is the value of hard work. Despite segregation and other manifestations of racism that limited his opportunities and restricted how he could live his life, Anderson had a deep love of America and a solid faith that hard work could overcome adversity.

In addition to simply telling his life, he discusses race throughout the book. In his early life, Thomas had to balance his grandfather's patriotism, faith in hard work, and faith in God with the anger engendered by racial injustice and the murders of civil rights leaders in the 1960s. Many of the blacks around him tell him that whites will never let him succeed, so he's stupid to work so hard. As he goes through university and then Yale Law School, he is confronted by the hidden racism of the left, a powerful condescension toward blacks. As he grows into an unorthodox thinker and leaves the Democratic Party, many blacks begin to consider him a race traitor. He works for the Reagan administration and there is opposed by many civil rights organizations for the simple reason that he is working for a Republican. He also criticizes the Reagan administration's policies and attitudes toward race, but he defends it against charges of racism. There are a number of good lessons in all of this.

Finally, he relates the harrowing account of Anita Hill's accusations of sexual harassment during his Supreme Court confirmation hearings and how that turned his life upside down. In 2016, it is no longer shocking to see the extent the left will go to, but it is still an object lesson to know the details of how they tried to stop his confirmation.

My only disappointment with the book is that it ends with his being sworn in as an associate justice on the Supreme Court in 1991. That was 25 years ago. It's time for an update.


ColoComment said...

Yes, excellent memoir. He is an admirable man. I suspect, though, that we will not see an update until he retires from the Court (if we see one at all.)

Have you read Hillbilly Elegy? It's also very good & provides much food for thought.

Tom said...

I haven't, but I've ordered it. I'll probably read it next month.