Race-Ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas & Constru

Toni Morrison, Author, Nellie Y. McKay, With, Michael Thelwell, With
Toni Morrison, Author, Nellie Y. McKay, With, Michael Thelwell, With Pantheon Books $15 (512p) ISBN 978-0-679-74145-9
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As Morrison (Jazz) writes in her pointed opening essay, the Thomas controversy last year both raised and buried issues of profound national significance. This collection of 19 essays, mostly by academics, powerfully advances the debate, though Thomas's defenders will find little solace. Most telling is federal judge A. Leon Higgonbotham's open letter to Thomas, cordially but relentlessly laying out the legal history of the civil rights movement and showing how Thomas's own public and private life has benefited. Manning Marable, describing the crisis in the response by black organizations, skillfully skewers the neoaccommodationist support of Thomas among black liberals. Gayle Pemberton writes that Hill exemplifies James Baldwin's observation that white Americans don't know how to deal with a black who falls outside of their expectations. Christine Stansell notes Catharine MacKinnon's initial embrace of Thomas for his life experience while ignoring his ideas as an example of how even militant feminists can be snookered when the issue is racial identity. Some essays cover the same ground, and a few are jargon-heavy, but the collection remains valuable. (Oct.)
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