‘Oh, He’s a Good Black’: Social Media Reacts After Article of Clarence Thomas’ White In-Laws Saying His Niceness ‘Made Up for Him Being Black’ Resurfaces Online

A news article from more than three decades ago resurfaced on social media this week, igniting a firestorm due to incendiary comments by Ginni Thomas, wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

At the heart of the controversy are Ginni Thomas’s comments to The Washington Post in 1991 concerning hot-button issues such as abortion and affirmative action, which critics argued at the time would likely come to influence Clarence Thomas’ judicial opinions over time. 

Justice Clarence Thomas Faces Criticism for Questioning Law Used In Prosecution of Jan. 6 Rioters Reviving Demands for His Recusal Amid Wife's Role In Insurrection
Associate Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas sits with his wife and conservative activist Virginia Thomas while he waits to speak at the Heritage Foundation on October 21, 2021, in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The 33-year-old article, with the headline “The Nominee’s Soul Mate,” reveals Ginni Thomas discussing her staunch conservative views at length, prompting renewed scrutiny many decades later, with growing calls for transparency regarding her ongoing involvement in her husband’s work.

But that’s not all.

Fresh allegations of racism also resurfaced from the era, with many social media users voicing outrage over insensitive remarks in the same article by Ginni Thomas’ relatives, who said they were shocked in 1987 when Ginni told them she was planning to marry a Black man.

“I can guarantee you I was surprised when I found out she was going with a Black man,” Ginni Thomas’s uncle Ralph Knop said from his Iowa farm house, according to the Post. “It was unusual for us.” 

Ginni’s aunt Opal chimed in next, saying, “But he was so nice, we forgot he was Black, and he treated her so well, all of his other qualities made up for his being Black,”  apparently unaware of the bigoted undertones in her comments.

Many social media voices swiftly pointed out that the remarks highlighted the abundant judicial biases that may be at play between Thomas and his wife behind the scenes while potentially influencing the nation’s highest court.

“Internalized anti-blackness has Clarence Thomas in a chokehold,” wrote X user Allison Wiltz.

Another user criticized Justice Thomas for allegedly not standing up for his race.

“Please tell me this isn’t real. Please?” he wrote. “In all seriousness, how could a brother stomach that level of bigotry from within your spouse’s family? Does he despise his Mother? His own skin color? I wouldn’t trust him to judge a hotdog contest with this level of coonery.”

An acerbic post by @acceber910 noted, “I wonder how many years he had to sit in the car at Thanksgiving until her family finally invited him inside.”

Another user suggested that Justice Thomas’s stance on affirmative action underwent a complete reversal from his days as a law student to the time of his confirmation to the high court.

“Not surprised at all,” he wrote. “Ironically, he was into pro-black groups while he was in undergrad.  I guess when we graduated and tried to get a job and faced discrimination, he thought, if it can’t beat them, join them.”

In a scathing rebuke, Andrea Jean vividly evoked the specter of the old Jim Crow South, accusing Ginni Thomas’s relatives of harboring racist sentiments. 

“Oh, he’s a good black, non-threatening to their delicate sensibilities. They can be their ratchet-selves around him because he won’t challenge their way of thinking.”

One user labeled Justice Thomas an Uncle Tom for allegedly aligning himself with the white community, stating, “That’s why he’s been fighting for white acceptance,” suggesting he had betrayed his own community’s interests to gain favor with white America.

The presiding pastor at the Thomas wedding, held in a predominantly white Methodist church in Omaha, Nebraska, fondly recalled the collective double takes and shock among the crowd who hadn’t quite caught on that Clarence Thomas was Black until he appeared as the groom.

Since then, Ginni Thomas has become a prominent conservative activist known for stirring controversy with her outspoken views. 

With influential connections and a steadfast conservative stance, Ginni Thomas has become a divisive figure in political circles, notably through her involvement with organizations like the Heritage Foundation. 

By consistently placing herself in the spotlight, she has drawn increasing scrutiny to Justice Thomas, with the latest uproar marking another instance of public statements that have occasionally sparked uproars on social media and elsewhere.

When Ginni Thomas expressed her opposition to affirmative action in 1991, USA Today columnist Barbara Reynolds suggested that Clarence Thomas would eventually become influenced by his wife’s stance against equal pay for women and take a judicial position against women’s issues. 

“If he is influenced by his wife, a white conservative who lobbied against comparable pay for women, he will be anti-women’s issues,” Reynolds wrote on July 5, 1991.

In their respective careers, the Thomases have consistently advocated that affirmative action and government programs hinder rather than help women and minorities, and they remain aligned in their belief that true equality is achieved by applying the same standards to everyone.

Expanding on her criticism, Reynolds, who is Black, also expressed concerns about Thomas’s marriage to a white woman.

“It may sound bigoted; well, this is a bigoted world and why can’t black people be allowed a little Archie Bunker mentality?” Reynolds said, according to the Post. “Here’s a man who’s going to decide crucial issues for the country and he has already said no to blacks; he has already said if he can’t paint himself white he’ll think white and marry a white woman.”

Over the years, Clarence Thomas has expressed his belief in a society where race does not determine outcomes; however, during his confirmation hearings, some viewed his marriage through a much different lens.

“His marrying a white woman is a sign of his rejection of the Black community,” said Russell Adams, chairman of Howard University’s Center for African Studies, according to the 1991 article. “Great justices have had community roots that served as a basis for understanding the Constitution. Clarence’s lack of a sense of community makes his nomination troubling.”

Some religious leaders at the time also expressed concerns about Ginni Thomas’s involvement with the Cult Awareness Network, a Chicago-based organization that aimed to educate the public about what it considered to be “destructive” religious cults, suggesting that her views could potentially influence her husband’s decisions regarding religious liberties.

Back in May, Thomas took aim at increasing criticism regarding his recent ethics controversies, including his refusal to step away from several rulings involving the 2020 election subversion case due to his wife’s efforts to keep President Donald Trump in power and his casual acceptance of gifts from a number of billionaire Republican donors.

During a May 10 panel discussion at a judicial conference for the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Point Clear, Alabama, Thomas called Washington a “hideous place” while blasting the “nastiness” and “lies” directed at him and his wife, Ginni, around the nation’s capital and beyond.

“My wife and I, the last two or three years, it’s been — just the nastiness and the lies — it’s just incredible,” Thomas said after being asked by the moderator, U.S. District Judge Kathryn Kimball Mizelle, whether his job on the bench required a degree of courage.

At the time, social media users also slammed Thomas for failing to acknowledge the ethical concerns raised by his questionable judicial actions.

Thomas, 75, said he is simply trying to do his job, and he contrasted himself with military service members and first responders, saying it would be disrespectful to them if he did not “sit at my desk and make decisions with a lifetime appointment that we know are the right decisions.”

In mid-June, Justice Thomas came under fire again over his repeated acceptance of luxury gifts and free travel after Senate Democrats released a series of documents showing the veteran jurist failed to disclose three private flights he took with billionaire GOP donor Harlan Crow between 2017 and 2021.

This came to light shortly after a report from a group called Fix the Court showed that Justice Thomas had received more gifts than any other Supreme Court justice in history, with the total value of these gifts since 1981 exceeding $5.87 million, with almost $4.2 million received in just the last 20 years, according to the readout from the committee.

The Code of Conduct for Justices, established in November 2023, lacks any provisions for consequences in case of violations, nor does it provide a mechanism to determine if such violations have taken place.

Without any real enforceable power, the code has increasingly drawn criticism amid various ethics scandals engulfing the Supreme Court over the past year. 

More recently, the controversy surrounding Justice Samuel Alito and the display at two of his residences of far-right flags that referenced the Jan. 6 attack has only highlighted the code’s ineffectiveness.

Lawmakers are leveraging these and other ethical controversies as a platform to call for a code of conduct that imposes real consequences for actions that are seen as eroding trust in the Supreme Court.

Back to top