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AWARE Holds Thomas Talk

Racial Stereotypes Key to Public Perception, Students Say

By Joe Mathews

Racial stereotypes played a key role in the how the public perceived the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, students at a roundtable discussion said yesterday.

The session was attended by eight students and was sponsored by Actively Working Against Racism and Ethnocentrism (AWARE) in Boylston Hall's Ticknor Lounge. The discussion was the first in a series AWARE plans to sponsor this year.

"The Thomas hearings have a legacy that will be with us for awhile," said AWARE coordinator Elizabeth H. Miller '92-'93. "Race has been involved with both the hearing and the trial."

Miller began the discussion by asking the group if the hearings were, in their opinion, a "high-tech lynching," as Thomas has said. Some students said they thought that Thomas used the term to evoke sympathy for himself.

"I think he fell on the notion of a high-tech lynching as an easy out," said Mary M. Mitchell '92. "He wasn't lynched--he wasn't even close to being lynched."

Other students said Thomas used the word "lynching" to point out that a double standard was in effect.

"If it had been a white nominee, I don't think the sexual harassment charges would have gotten such attention," said Melina Auerbach '92.

Although the hearings demonstrated white attitudes toward Blacks, they were particularly instructive of how Blacks view other Blacks, Miller said.

"I didn't think his confirmation would be good for my interests," said Miller, who is Black. "But when the Anita Hill thing came out, you get kind of protective of the Black man."

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