Clarence Thomas book, My Grandfather’s Son explores his biography in terms of his childhood, life achievements and also his misfortunes in life. The memoir is based on a real-life story of Clarence Thomas. The narrative is inspiring and at the same time illustrates the challenges that individuals encounters in life. Clarence Thomas refers to himself as My Grandfather’s Son since his grandfather played a key role in his upbringing.
Clarence Thomas was born in 1948, in Georgia, Deep Southern part of United States. The book re-counts that, Clarence was brought up in a humble background. However, the divorce of his parents provided a new challenge in his life. The book asserts that, his mother was employed as a maid. Hence her income was not that enough to sustain major family obligations. Thomas (25) illustrates that, the money was too little to sustain the family; hence, to purchase sugar, breakfast cereal was an absolute nightmare to the family.
The challenging economic conditions the family was experiencing compelled his mother to transfer caring role of him and his younger brother to Mr. Myers Anderson, their grandfather. Mr. Myers thus played a big responsibility in taking care of their education.
Clarence Thomas went to school while living with his grandfather in his savannah home. The absent of a father figure in their lives contributed to the grandfather assuming the role. His grandfather was a supporter of racial discrimination. He believed that racial discrimination will only be eradicated when complete self-reliance is encouraged among the blacks. Besides, Myers Anderson ethics of a; being strict disciplinarian, hard work ethic and a figure-head provided a role model in the lives of Clarence and his brother. This greatly contributed to their sound and hardworking personalities.
This is illustrated in the examples in the book, for instance, he made Clarence and his brother to understand that by observing hard work, self-discipline, time-consciousness and obedience among other good habits, they would end up getting a salaried job. He adored the wise advices bestowed to him by his grandfather to the extent that, in most cases, he would match his grandfather’s philosophy as only Godly. His grandfather had a small business dealing with fuel-oil from which he managed to get the savings to send him to a catholic school. Racism played a central role in American schools. Catholics schools in Georgia, where Clarence joined were of no exception. It was dominated with vast racial discrimination.
The book illustrates that, at the time Clarence was at holy cross seminary school, only two black students had sustained the vice. Holly Cross seminary school had constant fights against racial issues; however, the trust of black communities was still not shaken. Racial issue in school encouraged Clarence to work extra hard while in school, a virtue he had acquired from his grandfather. Also, the book points out that Clarence developed interests in the field of law while in school so as to allow him advocate for the racism issues in American society. By focusing in his dream, Clarence passed his exams and was admitted to Yale University to pursue a degree in law.
However, at the university, it was not easy for him; he was exposed to harsher racial injustices because of his the black communities. Clarence encountered his first marriage at an early age which bore him a son. For him, balancing between marriage life and work proved futile and he resolved to compulsive drinking pattern, this, however, destabilized him financially. His drinking habits degenerated to the point of breaking his marriage.
His good knowledge of law allowed him to reconcile with his wife thus, once again establishing a good family. The book illustrates how Clarence character was shaped. It points out the role of his grandfather and great thinkers of the time such as Thomas Sowell. Equality is seen as some of his major strength. This is seen when he practices fairness for all races in a commission championing for employments rights of the black community.
He further advocates for civil rights movements and strengthens the systems of transparency and fairness among all races. Reflecting on his youthful frustrations and the bias against the black communities, he handles his duties with biases deploying a defensive strategy and unjustly treating his enemies. He does take the opportunity of implementing major reforms, because the existing policies on racial matters are biased to extend of favoring the whites. This is illustrated when he works for the U.S government for some years and what he receives is an underpayment for his legal services.
Clarence Thomas position as the Supreme Court justice of the America was not without a political engagement as pointed out in the book. Before being appointed to this position, he faced challenges of oppression from his former employee, Anita Hill and persecuted for his initiatives in implementing reform changes through the elimination of racist white groups. However, despite of all the challenges he underwent, the book shows that, his winning strategy has been his defenseless ego which is hidden among his foes.
The book, The Grandfathers Son, by Clarence Thomas illustrates the challenges that still exist in the American society. However, despite of these challenges, one can arise and be what he or she wants in life through hard work.
Clarence gives us this lesson. He rose from a challenging childhood thus becoming the United States Supreme Court justice. In achieving goals in life, appreciations of mentors are important because they offer guidance and emotional support to one’s ambition.
In this connection, Mr. Myers Anderson played a vital role in instilling good qualities in Clarence.
My Grandfather’s Son: A Memoir, New York; HarperCollins, 2007