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Reverse Racism at Yale

September 7, 2020 (728 words)

What am i missing? Here we are, smack dab in the middle of a “transformative social justice moment,” with every organization from acting troupes to tech firms loudly proclaiming its support for diversity and inclusion. So now the U.S. Department of Justice is accusing Yale University of “reverse discrimination” in its admissions policies?

Specifically the charge is “Yale discriminates based on race… in its undergraduate admissions process race is the determinate factor in hundreds of admissions decisions each year.”


“Asian Americans and whites have only one-tenth to one-fourth of the likelihood of admission as African Americans applicants with comparable academic credentials. Yale uses race at multiple steps of its admissions process resulting in a multiplied effect of race on an applicant’s likelihood of admission. Yale racially balances its classes.”

As someone who does not give the Ivy League and its exalted machinations much thought on a typical day, I for one hope that in this instance Yale is guilty as charged. That would mean it has been making a conscious effort to improve the level of diversity and inclusion among its student body, instead of settling for high-minded public pronouncements designed to appease the mood of the moment.

As for the belligerent white majority who finds itself siding with the plaintiffs in the case, and who find admissions (and hiring) quotas distasteful, how exactly do you think we are ever going to improve the level of diversity at our elite institutions?

It’s a tad unrealistic to just sit back and hope hardly any whites or Asian Americans apply in a given year, thereby opening the door to a higher percentage of black students.

It’s hard for me to work up any sympathy for the aggrieved party here, since it’s not as though they are being denied a basic human right. Getting turned away by Yale is not exactly going to automatically condemn anyone to a life of depravation.

Of course, the white and Asian American students with “comparable academic credentials” who are being bumped are probably not the fortunate sons and daughters of alumni. They probably do not come from well-heeled “legacy” families who have helped build Yale’s endowment to a stunning $30 billion – second only to Harvard’s.

No, the students getting passed over are more than likely from families of more modest means, who have only their native intelligence, an aptitude for class work, and an unflinching determination to recommend them. In other words, my people.

Even so there is no cause to shed tears for someone not being admitted to Yale, whatever the reason. There are any number of fine colleges and universities where one can obtain a reliable education. There are bright students and engaged professors everywhere. Sometimes in places where you’d least expect to find them. In no way does one need a degree from Yale to flourish in American society, or pursue one’s ultimate destiny of eternal salvation.

I only hope the previously disadvantaged blacks currently being welcomed will be able to change the tenor of the institution in some meaningful way, instead of merely being absorbed into the existing rarified Yale ethos.

The problem with all big organizations and elite institutions is that those at the top, the ones who make the decisions and determine the agenda, are completely out of touch with the people most affected by those decisions and agendas. This has undermined civility and a sense of unity among the general populace.

We need more folks from the lower ranks of society making their way to the upper echelon. Of course such people will need to be groomed for leadership, which will require the appearance of appropriate mentors along the way. But it’s vitally important they bring their working class sensibilities to their new-and-improved station in life. It is the only way to break down the stratification that has existed since our nation’s founding, and which has only gotten worse over the last half century.

This is why I have such high hopes for someone like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. (Assuming she can manage to win re-election to her House seat in November.) Until recently she earned her living as a waitress. When it comes to steering a future course for our country, I will take a hustling waitress with her wits about her any day over a skull-and-bones child of privilege legal expert who thinks he knows best.

Robert J. Cavanaugh, Jr
September 7, 2020

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