Black people are ready for you, Attorney General.
I can’t speak for every African-American Harvard student or alum. But speaking just for myself (and, pretty much, every Ivy League black person I know), I’m unconcerned that Department of Justice is investigating Harvard University over its affirmative-action policies. If Attorney General Jeff Sessions is looking for some black people to kick around, PLEASE bring that mess to me and all my friends. We are smart. We are strong. We can defend ourselves from state-sponsored racism. I WELCOME the opportunity to deal with this Confederate chieftain posing as law enforcement, within the walls of our well-defended ivory tower.
African-American Harvard students are fully ready to stand on our “merits.” In fact, we’ve yearned and strived to be judged on our merits our whole lives. We’re not necessarily thrilled to be judged on merits according to the white man, as strained through the racially biased lens of his standardized testing. But if that’s the unrealistic standard, we’re ready for that battle too. Harvard blacks standardize test pretty well.
Seriously. Bring it the F on. Here’s every affirmative-action conversation I’ve had with a mediocre white man:
White guy: “You know, I probably could have gotten into Harvard too. But I guess I just wasn’t diverse enough.”
Me: “Yeah, well, uhh, there are lots of good schools. Where did you end up going?”
White guy: “SUNY Albany.”
Me: “Bruh, you need to get the F**K out of my face with that, before I apply the Second Law of Thermodynamics to your organic chemistry.”
Understand, nothing pisses off elite African-Americans more than this LUDICROUS argument from these intellectually weak white people that their lives would be better if they had just been born black. The constant, inane, prattle of mediocre whites screws some black people up for life.
Look, you can’t UNDERSTAND Clarence Thomas without understanding that he’s been told he’s only where he is because of his race for his whole life. That… damaged Negro has been so turned around by constant racial prejudice that at this point he’d rather make all black people fight in a cage so that the ONE who survived would be judged “worthy” by White America. Clarence Thomas is the tragedy of thinking that there is some way to earn the respect of the white man. He’ll die begging for something he should have been given at birth.
But most black people have made their peace with the fact that whites will always denigrate their credentials. Jeff Sessions can’t hurt me. I went to freaking HARVARD. Twice. I am UNASSAILABLE by the petty racism of a Klan sympathizer. Any cop can cut me right back down to a condition of a fugitive slave, but Jeff Session can’t do s**t to me.
And if I hadn’t gotten into Harvard, I’d still be here. Like most African-Americans who go to elite institutions, my parents sacrificed too goddamn much for me to be anything less than what I am. At the point where I had the educational background and training to even be competitive at a school like Harvard, my parents had done all the work necessary to put me in a position to succeed in life.
Black Harvard students are ready to compete on the global educational stage. Are white guys? Because if you really want to break elite college admissions down to test scores and GPAs, the people who are about to get crowded out aren’t people like me, it’s white people, particularly white women, who are about to lose. First Harvard will have to admit ALL the high-achieving Asians. Then all the high-achieving Jews (who tend to get screwed when schools look at geographic diversity). THEN Harvard will start admitting more international students: kids from Hong Kong and South Africa and India. Affirmative-action or no, Harvard is going to get its “diversity.”
I think sometimes white Americans forget that American high school education IS A JOKE on the international stage. Honestly, you think being the valedictorian from your public high school in Tennessee prepares you for Harvard? ARE YOU NUTS? Let me tell you something, out-competing QB1 in English Lit isn’t as impressive as you think.
There is a black girl right now in Johannesburg studying her way out of the slums, while your parents worry if you’re being given “too much homework.” YOU’VE GOT NOTHING ON HER, if we really want to make this all about the “merits.”
Yeah, African-Americans get the worst of what our bad educational system has to offer, so some of us will also lose out. If the Obama era proved one thing, it’s that white people would rather not have something than share it with minorities.
But let’s say Sessions boots out half of the African-Americans who would have gotten into Harvard. It’s not like those smart and high achieving black people will just recede in the ghetto. “I didn’t get into Harvard so now I sell crack” — said no one. If Jeff Sessions makes it harder for the bottom of Harvard University’s African-American class to get in… WE’LL JUST GO TO COLUMBIA.
Fools. You can’t STOP US.
I don’t care about affirmative-action for me. Clearly, I’d have been alright. And I don’t care about it for my kids. You’ll note that the Sessions Justice Department is apparently NOT investigating Harvard’s legacy admissions. What’s really going to bake the white man’s noodle later is when he realizes that Harvard has been admitting enough black people for long enough that second and even third generation “black Harvard” kids are starting to apply. MY black-ass kids are going to get in anyway. YOUR blonde-haired, blue-eyed dauphin will still be wondering “why does Hamlet have so many clichés?”
No, I care about affirmative-action because of this girl I knew from around the way. We grew up in the same town, she was smart and charismatic and a hard worker. But I had the blessing of a relatively stable two-working-parent household, while she grew up in foster care. I had any hint of my “lawn GUY-land” accent beaten out of me, she talked like Rosie Perez. I got a mediocre score on a practice standardized test when I was a sophomore in high school, and my parents reacted like I had been stricken with Morgellons Disease and sent me to the best “specialists” they could afford. She got the same mediocre score on the test years later, and her people reacted like she won the lotto. She went to community college (it was free!), I went to Harvard College (it was not). I went onto Harvard Law School, she went onto Touro Law School.
Last I heard, she was struggling it out, trying to pay off debts while working as a contract attorney. And I wonder, if she had gotten a little bit of affirmative-action help, if she had gotten into… Albany Law School instead of Touro, would her life be different? Would she be my key source at the ACLU right now, as opposed to somebody I’ve lost touch with?
Affirmative-action isn’t FOR me. It isn’t for Malia Obama. It’s for that minority who just needs a little bit of help, a little bit of a break, to help them overcome structural hurdles arrayed in front of her long before she was born. That is why affirmative-action has been the most effective social policy we’ve probably ever implemented.
Jeff Sessions wants to tear that all down, because helping black people is not his thing. I get that. But I’m happy that if he’s going to bring this fight, he’s bringing it to people like me and not people like my old friend. I’m ready for his ass. Black Harvard students are ready for his ass.
Keep your focus on us, Attorney General, and we’ll gladly shield who we can for as long as we can.
The Justice Department Is Investigating Harvard’s Admissions Practices
Elie Mystal is an editor of Above the Law and the Legal Editor for More Perfect. He can be reached @ElieNYC on Twitter, or at email@example.com. He will resist.