Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Anita Hill Tells Virginia Thomas "I Don't Owe You Jack."

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Yesterday, as I was minding my business doing some work on my new site ( #shamelessplug I overheard the news stating that Virgina Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas called Anita Hill and asked her to apologize for accusing her husband of sexual harrassment. The alleged incident almost cost Thomas his seat on the highest court in the land. In a voicemail Virgina Thomas requested Hill, "consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband...give it some thought and certainly pray [...] and hope that one day you will help us understand why you did what you did."

Girl What?
Seriously, I have a huge problem with this. Twenty years ago when Anita Hill went in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and to report Thomas of impropriety, people watched the confirmation hearings and the Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill situation divided Black America. Thomas even referred to his trial as a "high-tech lynching." Thomas successfully made this case about race and class, in which a black woman of a lower status was used by white society in order to bring him down, and not about gendered violence. Of course with the sense Mother Nature gave her Hill refused to give an apology, stating "She can't ask for an apology without suggesting that I did something wrong, and that is offensive."
Black men have become conditioned to sexually harass black women based on stereotypes that label black women as “morally obtuse, openly licentious, and having no immorality." It happens when you walk down the street and get greeted with "Hey Sexy," instead of "How are you doing, my sister?" It's why you had slave masters perpetuate those stereotypes to reduce their own culpability when it came to the rape of Black women. It's why you had the wives of Slave owners, blame Black women and girls for seducing their husbands. It's why you have Virginia Thomas coming back twenty years later asking Anita Hill for an explanation.

Within this entire situation there is an emerging politic in which the intracacies of sexual harassment, black femininity, white femininity, and black masculinity are intermingling as social constructions. Hill is being contrasted with Virginia Thomas and the historical dynamics of white women being seen as the moral opposite of Black women come into play. If Thomas believes she is on the good side of right, then of course it would make sense for Anita Hill to owe her an apology.

Or maybe I'm going to far with this. Afterall, there are plenty of wives who seek out explanations from those who interfere with their happy families. Maybe it's the racial dynamics at play that have me gassed up. Perhaps it's the fact that Thomas is requesting this apology twenty years later during a time she has garnered a prominent role in Republican and conservative politics, as the founder of a group that is linked to the Tea Party. Like a mistress using a slave girl to nurture her children, maybe she is using this situation with Hill to expand her role within the Tea Party.

I may not ever understand this situation beyond the realm of my own assumptions. What I do know is that to ask Anita Hill to apologize for a situation she believed made her powerless, despite the fact Thomas' husband still became one of the most powerful judges in the country is baffling.
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