The Justice isn't as well liked by Black folks as he should be and that's incredibly regrettable given the astonishing arc of his achievement in an era where a depressing number of Black men are pressing the self-destruct button in their lives.
By Nadra Enzi
Saturday I'll be 43 and with that minor milestone comes time for reflection. Ironically I'm writing on the 111th birthday of a personal hero, Paul Robeson while thinking thinking about another hero, US Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
The Justice isn't as well liked by Black folks as he should be and that's incredibly regrettable given the astonishing arc of his achievement in an era where a depressing number of Black men are pressing the self-destruct button in their lives. I'm an NAACP life member and have always felt the Justice warranted the Spingarn Medal, our highest award. While I'm sure this year's awardee will probably be President Obama, I think it's long overdue in Justice Thomas case.
Before Bill Cosby ( another personal favorite ) began publicly speaking out against the destructive sub-culture gnawing its way into millions of young Black lives, Justice Thomas was one of the lone voices for Black sanity and abandonment of using an unfortunate history as an excuse not to achieve. Belief in the inherent worth and competitiveness of the individual is what our young people need to hear from the highest podiums to the lowest barbershop or beauty salon.
Too often a lengthy litany of excuses and crippling practices are offered to us as if we, among all other ethnic groups, are incapable of making sound decisions in the face of great challenges. With 43 years under my belt as a Black man and a Southerner I can tell the world that whether or not I got as many breaks as my peers from other groups, the ultimate decider of my fate was myself- by the grace of ALLAH.
Whomever threw my job application away without reading it; whomever was in office who didn't like a stance I took on a given issue; however long access to capital was denied people who looked like me, at the end of the day I still has the power to pursue new avenues for accomplishment.
Justice Thomas isn't part of the school of thought that would have the Black community on its knees begging someone to grant us all our dreams. Like Booker T. Washington ( yet another personal favorite ), he tells us to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps. Some reading this will be amazed at the outrage some of their Black peers will demonstrate upon hearing these views.
Sadly, some Black people need to blame White people in order to explain where they have come up short in life. While racism isn't dead, there is no earthly reason to allow it to murder your initiative.
I wanted to be be a writer and guess what, I became one. I wanted to be a bounty hunter and guess what, I became one. I even wanted to become an icon, what the media calls a real life superhero and guess what, under my Capt. Black brand name, I did that too!!! Justice Thomas is living proof that you can't allow others to psyche you out into becoming a failure!
There is a war being waged in popular culture over what it means to be a Black man and too often the vision offered is of a swaggering, gun-toting, drug dealing parasite who is destroying his community faster than all the Klan's in history combined.
While President Obamas' election offers a compelling counterpoint, a cursory examination of what many young Black men are wearing, long t-shirts and baggy jeans, shows just how deeply that has impacted urban style. Justice Clarence Thomas is a standard bearer for dignity and productivity in a time when those givens in Black conduct have all but been abandoned.
Read his writings and speeches and you will see a simple formula for making your dreams come true: Believe in God; Work hard; Develop your mind; Be disciplined; Be your own person, don't follow the crowd and especially don't blame White people for your personal failures. These and other values are always dismissed at every turn by detractors who have a vested interest in a culture of failure within the community.
Consider this: a community of people practicing these truths doesn't need as many spokesmen or organizations acting on its behalf, which means a loss of power and income for Black overseers who never demand more from their constituents because it would mean getting less for themselves.
I'm glad the second Supreme Court Justice who happened to be Black came from Savannah. It's an indictment on the low expectations many of us have embraced and an incentive for those who demand more from themselves than the low status quo. It's sad that so many Black readers will be upset that one of us dared to call for an NAACP Spingarn Medal for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.
Unlike the preachers-for-hire; the unions that undermine Black workers at every turn and elected officials who use our condition as fuel to propel themselves to higher office, the Justice has consistently called for us to look within ourselves for the answers to our problems instead of laying our lives at the feet of government.
Telling someone he has the ability to solve his problems means you respect him as an intelligent being.
Telling someone he doesn't have the ability to solve his problems means you do not respect him as an intelligent being. We're nine years into the next millennium and some of us are finally standing up to the sub-culture of ignorance, violence and death dealing being marketed as THE authentic modern Black culture.
All I'm asking is for us to give credit where credit is due and recognize one of the leading voices against this sub-culture, Justice Clarence Thomas. If the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is finally honest with itself, it'll give a medal to this man who been advancing " colored people " all his career!
Nadra Enzi aka Capt. Black is an anti-crime activist and urban security consultant. NADRACAPTBLACK@YMAIL.COM is his direct e-mail and PayPal address for donations to his " legal, yet creatively waged war against street crime. "