Thursday, April 29, 2010

Racist Harvard Law Student Needs a History Lesson (Updated)

Those of you who read Above the Law or other law school scam sites have probably read about the Harvard Law School 3L who made this racist and sexist statement in an email that went viral:
I absolutely do not rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent. I could also obviously be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic. African Americans tend to have darker skin. Irish people are more likely to have red hair. (Now on to the more controversial:) Women tend to perform less well in math due at least in part to prenatal levels of testosterone, which also account for variations in mathematics performance within genders. This suggests to me that some part of intelligence is genetic, just like identical twins raised apart tend to have very similar IQs and just like I think my babies will be geniuses and beautiful individuals whether I raise them or give them to an orphanage in Nigeria. I don’t think it is that controversial of an opinion to say I think it is at least possible that African Americans are less intelligent on a genetic level, and I didn’t mean to shy away from that opinion at dinner.
I've read comments on other sites from people who are rightfully outraged and offended by this email. Let's not kid ourselves, whoever this person is got into Harvard for a reason and would fit right in Biglaw or another white-shoe firm. I've come across a fair amount of arrogant and tactless bigots and chauvinists in the law, so despite how it disgusts me to read these comments, I can't say I'm terribly surprised. The world of Mad Men still exists to a lesser extent only because people like the Harvard 3L face certain repercussions for being blunt about their real feelings about minorities and (other) women. She'll still have a much better chance of getting a six-figure job most of us so don't think this email going viral will in any way ruin her life in the privileged, upper class, and extremely narrow-minded world that ensured her a spot at Harvard. I'm fairly certain her admittance into Harvard had very little to do with her intelligence or world view.

Speaking of racism and sexism, I think it is important to remember those who have proven people like the Harvard 3L wrong time and again throughout history rather than focus on one ignorant Ivy League law student. One of those people is Dorothy Height who died last week at the age of 98. She was the president of the National Council of Negro Women for 41 years and fought against what she had called the "triple bind of racism, sexism and poverty" her entire life:

Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation, told The Times in an interview, "Dorothy understood from the beginning the importance of both the civil rights movement and the women's rights movement and how they're intertwined. She's always tried to keep people together and united."

The daughter of a nurse and a building contractor, Height was born March 24, 1912, in Richmond, Va., and grew up in Rankin, Pa., where she earned top grades in school.

After graduating from high school at 16, she was accepted to Barnard College in New York but was told she had to delay her entrance a year because the school had met its annual quota of two African American students.

Instead she entered New York University, which had no such quota. In four years she earned bachelor's and master's degrees in social work.


Under her leadership, the National Council of Negro Women offered job training, set up a school breakfast program in Mississippi, registered voters and pushed to ensure that African Americans were included in the census. In the 1980s, Height also led African American Women for Reproductive Rights, an abortion rights group.
Height retired from the YWCA in 1977 but continued to lead the National Council of Negro Women for two more decades. The council celebrated Height's birthday every year with an "Uncommon Height" gala fundraiser.

On her 90th birthday in 2002, well-wishers such as Oprah Winfrey and boxing promoter Don King helped raise $5million, enough to pay off the mortgage on the organization's national headquarters on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington.

In 2004, President Bush awarded Height the Congressional Gold Medal for her many decades of service. Inscribed on the medal is a classic Height quote: "We African American women seldom do just what we want to do, but always do what we have to do. I am grateful to have been in a time and place where I could be a part of what was needed."

: H/T to the Jobless Juris Doctor for the update. Gawker has exposed the Harvard 3L as Stephanie Grace. She graduated from Princeton in 2007 with a degree in Sociology, is on Harvard Law Review, and will clerk for Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, also known as the cow porn judge. More proof that idiots can get into Ivy League schools and have a successful legal career. Oh, what a world we live in.


  1. Ha, I'm actually going to be using Mad Men in an upcoming post. But back to the subject at hand, this HLS 3L makes me want to use a word that rhymes with runt, blunt, hunt.

    I know it's hard for her to measure "success" unless you're in the secret handshake club. But the following disproves her theory and it's also the story of the lawyer named Dovey Johnson Roundtree. When that 3L leads a life like Dovey's then she can talk shit.

    "It is on the shoulders of people like Dovey Johnson Roundtree that we stand today, and it is with her commitment to our core ideals that we will continue moving toward a better tomorrow." ------First Lady Michelle Obama, July 2009, who I heard was also quite an accomplished attorney from some kind of "inferior genetic background."

  2. The 3L is a woman.

  3. Does anyone see the irony in homophobe David Lat (at ATL) weighing in on this controversy?

    Several ATL comments allege that his man is also gay, which would make his homophobic articles as a Harvard undergrad, even more repulsive. At least, some stupid redneck with no education has an excuse for such ignorance. If Lat is gay, you would expect him to have a better understanding and more sympathy.

  4. Nando: I rarely if ever read Above the Law unless someone sends me a link to their site. I do not know David Lat's history or his writing. I read the article you linked to The Crimson and if he is in fact a closeted gay man, it makes sense that he would be uncomfortable with people who are openly gay and events that celebrate being gay. I don't know if Lat is gay but either way it is unfortunate that he felt this way when he was at Harvard. It's also ironic that his current job is to "out" people and expose their personal business daily on Above the Law when he was against any event that would even pressure someone to be outed. I've met people from Ivy League schools who are no less ignorant than the stereotypical redneck. They just come from rich families so their money hides their ignorance and biases.

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  6. Of COURSE she is clerking for the Koz.

    That is all.



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