“You are fortunate to have your misfortunes.”

“You are fortunate to have your misfortunes.”

I had a discussion with a co-worker this morning who spoke about his daughter’s friends and how one of them received a BMW 7 series for his 16th birthday. My eldest daughter attended an exclusive private school also, her friends drove Mercedes, Hummers, and BMW’s — all tricked out. Her best friend at the time received a Mercedes 450 SL two seater sports car along with her PERMIT in the 10th grade. I got a lot of blow-back because I told my daughter that I don’t know the Jones family so I have no desire to keep up with them. (smile) I have another story to tell…..about Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and a young person “not lucky” to have any of these luxury cars but instead is making her own “luck”. And for that, she might be the luckiest of all:

A wise man visited Portland Oregon last month. His name is Justice Clarence Thomas.

“You are fortunate to have your misfortunes.” These were the words that he told to a young woman by the name of Dakota Garza. And no, she is not a Republican, she is a registered Democrat.

Life is never as cut and dry as party lines appear to be, sometimes we forget this fact when the words of violence and vilification tend to be the norm in our political arena. But I digress. They both, Thomas and Garza grew up in hard times. Thomas, who has written about his early life, was abandoned by his father and grew up in a life of poverty in Pin Point Georgia.

Garza’s father died of a drug overdose when she was 2. She and her mother were homeless by the time she was 8. Garza does not have a relationship with her mother.

By her senior year of high school, Garza lived alone in an apartment and worked at Old Navy to support herself. She earned a 3.5 grade point average and could not afford college until she won a $20,000 Horatio Alger Association scholarship and a trip to the organization’s 2011 conference in Washington D.C.

That is where she met her guardian angel in the form of one Clarence Thomas. She invited him to eat at her table, he first declined but changed his mind. She told him about representing herself in court at the age of 16 to emancipate herself from her errant mother – she could not afford a lawyer but knew she had to save herself. She wanted a chance for herself and sometimes we have to let go of toxic relationships in order to move on to better things.

After lunch, Thomas gave Garza his phone number and email address. He told her to contact him if she ever needed anything.

She emailed him after the luncheon, thanking him and writing of her intention to attend the University of Portland. She told him that she wanted to attend Portland because it had the area’s best nursing school. Garza wants to help people and as a result of her tough times growing up, she wanted to make sure that she had a career in which she would have a good chance of steady employment. For those who grow up insecure in their means, security is a must.

Calls were made by Justice Thomas, himself, to make sure that between his association, scholarships and the like, Garza was able to make up whatever shortfall she might have financially. They worked out a deal to cover Garza’s tuition for all four years. Thomas also introduced Garza to a family for whom she nannies to pay for other expenses.

Justice Thomas, a humble man who gained a reputation among legal scholars as perhaps the most conservative justice of the last century: He once wrote that the Constitution gives states a right to establish an official religion, and that teenagers have no right to free speech. He’s compared affirmative action to slavery and segregation, and he is right.

Justice Thomas, who has been excoriated by misguided and uninformed Blacks and Whites alike as an “Uncle Tom”,(as well as other ugly things) has been the one to reach across the aisle to give a “hand up” rather than and “hand out” to a younger generational soulmate who was “fortunate to have her misfortunes.”

Fly high Dakota Garza.

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