A student at Harvard Law School (pictured above) recently sent an e-mail suggesting that African Americans are genetically predisposed to inferior intelligence, and it’s been made public.Somehow the controversial e-mail found its way to the Harvard Black Law Students Association (BLSA) and was eventually forwarded to similar student groups at law schools across the country. In part, here’s what it said:
“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.”
“…Everyone wants someone to take 100 white infants and 100 African American ones and raise them in Disney utopia and prove once and for all that we are all equal on every dimension, or at least the really important ones like intelligence. I am merely not 100% convinced that this is the case.”
When sending out the e-mail, a member of the Harvard BLSA noted that:
“The author of the e-mail will be clerking on the 9th Circuit next year, is a member of the Harvard Law Review, and is a graduate of Princeton. I am saddened that a current HLS student holds such antagonistic and archaic views about our people and that the potential impact of her ignorance is only strengthened by her prestigious affiliations and credentials.”
After the e-mail received national attention, the dean of the Harvard Law School released a statement saying:
“Here at Harvard Law School, we are committed to preventing degradation of any individual or group, including race-based insensitivity or hostility. The particular comment in question unfortunately resonates with old and hurtful misconceptions. As an educational institution, we are especially dedicated to exposing to the light of inquiry false views about individuals or groups. […] This sad and unfortunate incident prompts both reflection and reassertion of important community principles and ideals. We seek to encourage freedom of expression, but freedom of speech should be accompanied by responsibility. This is a community dedicated to intellectual pursuit and social justice. The circulation of one student’s comment does not reflect the views of the school or the overwhelming majority of the members of this community.”
Stephanie Grace, who sent the e-mail is currently a third-year student at Harvard Law School. She has since e-mailed an apology to the Black Law Students Association, saying:
“I am deeply sorry for the pain caused by my e-mail. I never intended to cause any harm, and I am heartbroken and devastated by the harm that has ensued. I would give anything to take it back. I emphatically do not believe that African Americans are genetically inferior in any way. I understand why my words expressing even a doubt in that regard were and are offensive. I would be grateful to have an opportunity to share my thoughts and to apologize to you in person. Even beforehand, I want to extend an apology to you and to anyone else who has been hurt by my actions.”
I regard this “controversy” and the accompanying outrage as a pure yawn fest. It’s funny to me that everyone is so shocked and surprised that there are those with ideas that are offensive to our own. From Harvard to Appalachia to Washington, D.C., there are people who will never accept those of other races as their equal. Some use science to justify their beliefs, some use hate speech and others use nuance and code language to get their point across. I think we should stop giving these occurrences such a big platform and devoting so much attention to them. (Note: The irony of me writing this piece is not lost on me, but it’s what I do.)
We have much more important issues in this country to address. If we focused as much attention on health, education and family in our own lives as we do when some fool utters a racial epithet or tells Obama to go back to Africa, then perhaps we would have time to start creating the real change we need in our communities. I rate the uproar over this e-mail with a big, fat who cares.
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