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George Takei’s Disrespect of Clarence Thomas Shows The Depths of Anti-Blackness


George Takei as Star Trek’s Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu

From burning Black churches to Clinton and Bush presidential campaigns, the system of white supremacy produces alarming repetition. This redundancy stems from an unwavering dedication to the preservation of white power.

The early days of the summer of 2015 look woefully similar to the summer of 2013.

Sanford, Florida, and the Trayvon Martin murder trial hypnotized millions. The acquittal of Martin’s killer prompted President Barack Obama to confirm that racism exists. He emphasized, “Trayvon Martin could have been me.” The Supreme Court’s controversial invalidation of a portion of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 resulted in Justice Clarence Thomas being branded an “Uncle Thomas.”

This summer, we’re days from the commencement of the Charlotte, North Carolina, trial in the shooting death of Jonathan Ferrell; a white enforcement officer killed the unarmed Black male in the summer of 2013. The massacre at Charleston, South Carolina’s Mother Emanuel A.M.E. Church inspired Obama to acknowledge how white supremacy has been methodically crafted “as a means of control, a way to terrorize and oppress” Black people. Two years removed from “Uncle Thomas” slights, the Supreme Court’s lone Black member is now rebuked as a racial fraud.

Star Trek icon and LGBT activist George Takei launched a crude, tacky tirade in response to the Black justice’s dissenting opinion on same-sex marriage. He accused Thomas of “[abdicating] and [abandoning] his African American heritage” and left no ambiguity, tarring him as “a clown in blackface.”

Takei cited a specific portion of the justice’s legal opinion that necessitated anti-Black slurs:

Slaves did not lose their dignity (any more than they lost their humanity) because the government allowed them to be enslaved. Those held in internment camps did not lose their dignity because the government confined them. And those denied governmental benefits certainly do not lose their dignity because the government denies them those benefits.

My consensus with Justice Thomas is irregular. But #BlackSelfRespect, not philosophical agreement, demands that any manifestation of anti-Blackness be identified and contested. Takei earmarked his disgust exclusively for Thomas; the justice’s Blackness became an inextricable, explicit component of Takei’s indictment.

As a survivor of the World War II internment camps, Takei is acquainted with white terrorism. But while lambasting Thomas, he regurgitates the most hackneyed, belabored racist tropes of the last 300 years. According to Takei, it’s not just that Thomas “doesn’t belong” on the Supreme Court, “He’s a disgrace to America.” Racists have long insisted that Black people are defective, unqualified to be judges, attorneys or valued citizens. The current president is daily lampooned for being insufficiently American; in 2011, CBS reported that 25 percent of all Americans “think President Obama was not born in the United States.” White supremacy guarantees that the most familiar gripe concerns underserving Blacks responsible for catastrophic ruin.

New Republic’s Jeet Heer also noted that Takei’s conduct reflects a pattern of attacks aimed at Thomas that “have a tendency to focus impertinently and offensively on his [Black] person.” Heer concludes, “The frequent jokes about Thomas … being Justice Antonin Scalia’s ‘sock puppet’ imply the justice is an unqualified quota hire.” Because of racism, Thomas’ melanin arouses belligerent scrutiny, hampers his fitness for the court and explains why Takei and others reserve their undiluted contempt for him.

Takei rationalized his original “blackface” remarks as a product of spontaneous rage. After a day of reflection, he announced a lack of racist intent. He labeled Justice Thomas a minstrel only to convey that he was a “Black buffoon.” Specifically: “A white actor who blackens his face to play a Black buffoon.”

Black made any insult worse. When you called somebody a ‘bastard,’ that was bad. But when you called somebody a ‘Black bastard,’ now that was terrible. In fact, when I was growing up, being called ‘Black,’ period was grounds for fighting.” – Assata Shakur

Not a buffoon. “A Black buffoon.”

Takei’s clarification is both profound and conventional. Invalidating the Blackness of Clarence Thomas is monotonous. What’s remarkable is that Takei labeling him a racial imposter verifies the racist nature of his critique. Three other justices opposed the same-sex marriage decision. No one impugns the racial allegiance of Justice Scalia, Justice Samuel Alito or Chief Justice John Roberts. Opposition to “marriage equality” didn’t void their whiteness. Takei constructed a premeditated assault designed to singularly target and crucify a “faux” Black justice.

Rituals are defined as religious behaviors or actions regularly and invariably followed by people. Chappelle Show writer and entertainer Paul Mooney submits that white folks have sanctified the art of blaming n*ggers. Predictably, many white and non-white people exalted Takei for exorcising a demonic Negro who “deserves a lot of disdain.” The Young Turks’ John Iadarola and Ana Kasparian praised Takei’s eloquence, declared their love for him and strengthened the conviction that Black people are worthy of ridicule. Bonding rituals of racist culture – church bombings, lynchings, mocking Black people like Clarence Thomas – consistently occasion the humiliation and murder of Black people.

Political foes of LGBT rights have disappointed Takei previously. He did not resort to racial attacks and character defamation. He credits former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger with launching his activist career. In 2005, Schwarzenegger vetoed a bill that would have authorized same-sex marriage in California. Takei didn’t brand the governor a bogus white man or declare him unfit for office. He reserved his uncouth antics for a Black person.

In an essay published by MSNBC, Takei again highlights Thomas’ Blackness:

“It seems odd that Justice Thomas, as an African American, would be an opponent of marriage equality. His own current marriage, if he had sought to have it some fifty years ago, would have been illegal under then-existing anti-miscegenation laws.”

Although Takei is not white, his treatment of Thomas mirrors the conduct of many white “liberals.” In the justice’s 2007 memoir, Thomas warned that, “[Liberal] whites … offered you a helpful hand so long as you were careful to agree with them, but slapped you down if you started acting as if you didn’t know your place.” Of late, nothing provokes more slaphappy whites than Black people unwilling to endorse gay rights.

Writer and editor Nick Chiles documented how this year’s GLAAD Media Awards continued “the trend of sweeping the entire Black community under the label ‘homophobia.’ When voters approved the 2008 California ban on same-sex marriage, The Washington Post mimicked Takei’s specific condemnation of Black people; they convicted Black Californians as murderers who ‘drove a stake through the heart of same-sex marriage.’ On the day of South Carolina State Senator Clementa Pinckney’s funeral, comedian and suspected racist Bill Maher questioned, “Who’s more against gay marriage than Black churches?”

The system of racism is designed to perpetually violate Black people. Perceived homophobia is satisfactory pretext for anti-Black aggression, although justification is unnecessary.

Takei penned a Fourth of July-inspired apology where he acknowledged regret for his lack of civility. Hopefully, South Carolina exhausted Black forgiveness.

Gus T. Renegade is the host of The C.O.W.S. Talk Radio – a platform designed to dissect and counter racism. He has interviewed and researched authors, filmmakers and scholars from around the globe.

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14 thoughts on “George Takei’s Disrespect of Clarence Thomas Shows The Depths of Anti-Blackness

  1. Joe Foerster says:

    I like George Takei and when I first saw the headline for this article, I have to admit I bristled a bit. I confess I don't really care much for Justice Thomas. But as I read your words, I began to understand. As a white person, even as a gay person, I don't fully know the depth of what my black brothers have been subjected to and how it continues in this modern age. I understand LGBT folks may sometimes look at their black brothers and expect them to relate to their LGBT trials. But you are right… a black person is a person. His opinion is a person's opinion, and he may agree or be sympathetic, or he may not. It was a clear lack of thinking about Justice Thomas's basic humanity and all the varied opinions and values that go with it that lead to Mr. Takei's mistake. I can only hope I take away a new perspective and respect from this and remember that how I feel about Justices Scalia and Thomas has nothing to do with either of their skins. As I've heard Satchmo sing, "I'm white, inside… my only sin, is in my skin… what did I do, to be so black and blue?"

  2. Tom Fuller says:

    George Takei's hatred resembles George Wallace's. The difference is, Takei's is politically correct. Wallace's was, too, way back when.

  3. Mr. Takei. You don't have to apologize for a thing.What you said is true. Inter-racial marriage was banned in most states and not respected in others. The reactions to that were as bad as the reactions to same-sex marriage. Clarence Thomas is a disgrace to jurisprudence and to the nation. And he is the one who dislikes black people. You have nothing to apologize for. Be well.

  4. Meanwhile a white lawyer in California successfully got a Kill all the gays referendum on the ballot,for the upcoming election. Silence from George,GLAAD, Caitlyn Jenner and all the rest.

  5. Gus please stop trying to make something out of nothing Justice Thomas is nothing but Uncle Ruckus. Please that man has never asked a question while being on the bench. Always goes against anything to help blacks countless times. If you follow the court and look at the cases you can tell how he votes before you even look at the votes.Trying to defend him is just sad. I have even worse to say about him. But I will leave at this.

  6. I wish more Black people would see Takei's comments for what they were. But then again, us Black people are often the first to use such language against other Blacks we do not agree with. Justice Thomas has been hearing such pejorative epithets from other Blacks for years, long before this has-been actor came on the scene. That is why he felt so comfortable saying those things.

  7. Ojo Arewa says:

    Takei spoke the truth!! Clarence Thomas is a dastardly individual that is an enemy throughout his 25 years on the Supreme Court towards African people. Any African defending Thomas is suspect themselves.

  8. Clarence Thomas is exactly as he described him…. a clown in Black face…. I have n respect for a Black looking man who marries white women and sexually harasses Black women as if we are whores for his amusement….. his statements lately about Gay marriage and Blacks being better off as slaves makes him a fool and a dullard.

  9. Thomas's view that the government doesn't give dignity is the basis of the American experience. If comes from the creator. (Who gives us inalienable rights.)

    Thomas grew up in the "real" black American experience – dirt poor, under Jim Crow in the deep South.

    He is far more "black" than Obama who grew up in an upper middle class white family in the most liberal diverse state in the U.S.

    Thomas is the most dangerous black in the U.S. because he thinks for himself.

  10. Love thine enemy! Is that your new motto?

  11. Jonathan James Bresnihan Who is my enemy now?

  12. I do not respect thomas either but I cannot understand the point of what george says: he is homosexual and he got what he wanted from the court.

  13. Clarence Thomas's disrespect of slaves and Japanese internees shows his true colors as a clown in blackface. Takei got it right.

  14. Amlak Nigus says:

    Takei spoke heatedly in a moment of Passion but he spoke the truth and I like the fact he apologized for the tone but not the truth Thomas has proven himself an enemy to Afrikans with action and word. Now while would not see him physically harmed any tongue lashing he receives is warranted I would just tell Takei to call a Black friend lol when that need arises again and it will, for Thomas is a brotha who would see us back to Jim Crow laws and think it Just he's not a Friend, so fuckem but leave the name callin to us ;).

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