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Separate and Unequal: Harvard Hosts Graduation for Black Students Only

Harvard has hosted its first ever graduation for black students only. One can’t help but wonder about the confusion surrounding the shade of Martin Luther King Jr. after the long fight, the attempt to abolish the system of separation of the races, his dream that one day his children would live in a country that would judge them by the content of the character and not the color of their skin.

One also feels that they owe the upholders of South African apartheid an apology.

But, Sarah, you say, this is different, this is not because blacks are inferior, but because blacks are equal. It is their own choice to hold their own graduation ceremony for only people of their race so they can feel comfortable and empowered.

Is it different now?

Why?

Why do black people in America, where they are absolutely equal under the law, graduating from one of the most prestigious universities in the country—one that almost guarantees a golden future to those in possession of a diploma—not want to graduate with the rest of their citizens, those in the same privileged position to grasp the golden ring of success, on the basis of their Ivy League education?

Why, having attained that kind of achievement, do they wish to graduate only with people of similar skin color (honestly, in the U.S. it’s more a matter of features)?

Are they likely to be attacked or suffer hostility at the hands of other scions of families wealthy enough to afford to send their children to Harvard?  Are they likely to be looked down upon and discriminated against by the products of an education that emphasizes, most of all, the eschewing of “white privilege”?  Will they not be sufficiently privileged in a more ecumenical graduation ceremony?

While I can see that some products of our educational indoctrination system believe just that, anyone who lives in 21st-century America knows all those fears are baseless. The greatest risk students of any color graduating from Harvard suffer is being fawned upon excessively. Though there’s also the risk, for those students who can tan, of being told how hard they’ve struggled and how much they’ve suffered.

Which is, let us face it, poppycock.

I want to say right up front that black people in America are on average as capable as any other American. It would be very strange if they weren’t since in Africa, American blacks would be known as “Caucasian.” Let’s face it – and no, it wasn’t just rape-minded slave owners.  It was the fact that for a long time in American black culture paler skin was prized – very few Americans here for more than three generations are pure anything, and the American black population is on average pale enough to be called “white” in any Mediterranean country. So there is no genetic inferiority, no basic lack of capability of performing as well as any other American.

Sure, ability varies—by individual, not by race. But most people capable of graduating from Harvard are capable of performing well in our society.

The problem is not even culture.  I’ve known many middle-class black families, and in general, they have more in common with white people of the same level of education and income than with any mythical “black heritage.” Sure, some of them might have slave ancestors that are a little closer in time than most of the slave ancestors of white Americans. But not all. Lots of black Americans never had slave ancestors in America, having arrived here after the American Civil War, and many white Americans had slave ancestors in parts of the world where slavery persists. Every so often we find that a not-particularly-tanned American was brought here as a slave in modern days. But none of these children experienced slavery. None of these children’s parents experienced slavery. Though it’s possible, I bet, that you could count the number of these children’s grandparents who experienced slavery on half the fingers of a single hand. In fact, at this point it’s likely that most of their great-grandparents didn’t experience slavery.

Which brings us to: Do you know what your great-great-grandparents were up to?  Would you know them if you met them on the street?  Do their travails and foibles matter at all to your day-to-day life?

If you answered yes to most of these questions, Prince Harry, I think you’d best be getting back to your honeymoon and stop reading PJ Media.

Seriously. To whom but royals and elderly people obsessed with genealogy do the lives of ancestors four removed matter that much?

So why is it that black people graduating from Harvard feel the need to isolate themselves from the rest of their classmates so they can enjoy their graduation in peace?

Discrimination. Not real discrimination they’ve suffered; not discrimination their parents suffered; not discrimination of any kind in the real world. They are afraid of the discrimination in their own eyes.

You see, when the gates of civil rights opened and black people could openly compete with white people in America, their expectations were sky high.

Perhaps it is always like that. When it became normal for women to work in the corporate world their expectations were sky high as well.

There is a reason for that.

Before the floodgates open, when a race or a sex or for that matter any class of people is discriminated against, those few who make it to the top, the ones that stories are told about, are exceptional people with rare gifts.

The oppressed group then looks at these people as representative of their race/sex/class and says, “If only we weren’t oppressed, all of us would be like that.”

When the floodgates open, it is that expectation that carries people forward: the certainty their people are actually superior to the majority and that this will be proven.

This expectation is insane. No race, no sex, no religious group, no class is uniformly exceptionally intelligent, driven and unwilling to give up. Most people are… people, which is why they are average.

So when the magical dominance of mainstream culture fails to materialize, the newly liberated people feel… let down. Betrayed.

Which is when the division mongers get to work on them.  It’s easy to convince someone in that situation that the man is holding them down, that someone is conspiring against them in the shadows, that their lack of success is due to discrimination, not to the fact that no one succeeds all the time.

Mostly, at this place, at this time, that is what is holding back black people in America. (They’re not alone. It’s what’s holding back women, too, who have managed to convince themselves in one of the freest and most equitable countries in the world that they live under the patriarchy.)

I know of what I speak. When I first came to the U.S. and experienced discrimination (everyone experiences discrimination and young women with accents are not specially blessed) the temptation encouraged by friends and acquaintances was to blame all my failures on discrimination. I was encouraged to think that people denied me opportunities because I was tan, because I spoke with an accent and, oh, yeah, there was the old standby “they’re afraid of strong women.”

Three years in, I decided that was a good way to never achieve anything. It didn’t matter if people were discriminating against me for this or that reason, or for that matter for all of them. I wouldn’t get anywhere if I sat in a corner imagining that everyone was conspiring against me.

I decided instead that I would pretend no one ever discriminated against me, and when I failed, I’d try again, harder and better.

I have friends from those days who refuse to talk to me because I’m successful and am either stuck-up or sold-out.

But I was lucky because I was not brought up from the youngest age being told all my failures were someone else’s fault. My incipient paranoia was not nurtured by every authority figure in the land, continuously reminding me my ancestors were abused.

Those kids graduating from Harvard holding a separate graduation, because, you know, if white people are present they’ll somehow be looking down on them? They’re the result of our education system. Our education system has primed them to blame all their difficulties and inherent human failures on other people, and to be certain, the country as a whole is conspiring against them and hates them for their skin color.

The indoctrination is so strong they can’t break out of it.

And so they’re running back into a ghetto of their own making—an imaginary “safe” community where everyone tans—and locking themselves in.

This must stop. There is no such thing as separate but equal. Even were it possible to enforce equality of circumstances, even where the young people are not being primed to blame everything on wholly imaginary “white privilege," it would be impossible to remain a functional nation with increasingly divergent communities based on skin color. (If you don’t think it’s imaginary, explain to me why Death Camp survivors are being accused of white privilege. Use words.  Show your work.)

This is how we get the Balkans, not anything resembling a functional nation.

A house divided against itself cannot survive.

We’re all Americans. No one needs a safe space, unless they’re currently standing in a prison yard.

Shame on Harvard for falling back on old doctrines of racial separation and eugenics. And shame on everyone else who encourages this nonsense.

Let’s end the madness.