It was 1991, and a century-old piece of American history was in reply: a black man was again on the auction block. The medium in which the ritual took place now allowed millions to watch it in real time and in color. the images were vivid and animated and its performance still captivated white America. It was the display of a black male stud; it was the interrogation of Supreme Court nominee Clarence Thomas. The date was October 11, 1991.
Instead of a wooden auction block in the town square, the location was an opulent Senate hearing room at the United States Capitol building in Washington, D.C. It was altogether unfitting and improper that those who would interrogate Thomas would do so in such a manner. The Senate on that day diligently displayed to the world that the sacrifice of those who gave their lives that all men might have dignity and freedom did not apply to the black man. Their actions proved that though slavery was gone; the black man and his anatomical manhood were still not free.
In 1991, I was in my early thirties and I was embarrassed and irritated of the questions asked of Thomas in mixed company. The fascination with the size of his manhood was unimaginable. Black male sexuality has been an issue since Adam and saying like “the shorter the man the longer the stick”, the smaller the feet the bigger the rod,” and “once you go black you’ll never go back” only added to the curiosity. At one point during the hearing I thought that Senator Arlin Specter was going to pull out a measuring tape and measure Thomas’s manhood in front of the world.
Would the damage have been less significant if the size of his manhood was smaller? A conversation with my girlfriend Eunice about the anatomy sounded something like this: Eunice said, “It isn’t the size of the ship, but the motion of the ocean, and the technique of his beat”, and I said, “technique and motion have their place, but I am like Aretha, I want something I can feel.” Clarence Thomas was another set up brother.
Almost nineteen years to the day that the Thomas hearings began, Virginia Thomas, Clarence Thomas’s wife called Anita Hill (his accuser) to ask her to apologize for the nearly two decade accusations of sexual harassment against her husband. Anita Hill phoned the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to inform them of the phone call and a simple voicemail becomes a major news story. Personally Mrs. Thomas what is there to apologize for and would that make you feel better really?