The following piece was written before I learned of the anti-white racial language directed at my classmate Bill Barlow. Before I learned that “the beauty of Belinda Hall is that whiteness, in all its forms, including the obsession with persuading white allies, does not occupy the center.” I wholly agree with Reclaim that racism has no place at Harvard Law. I am now convinced, more than ever, that racism is alive and well at HLS. But as long as the political left continues to legitimize anti-white racism and use it as a tool to achieve its goals, racial harmony will remain a dream deferred.
Try explaining American racism and discrimination to the Dominican spouse of a Harvard Law student in today’s campus climate. It can get pretty confusing, but it’s something I have tried to do during the two years that my husband has lived with me as a member of the HLS community. The greatest challenge is attempting to unpack our community’s struggle with “structural racism” when overt acts of discrimination toward whites and whiteness are common, accepted and openly encouraged.
This year, in an uncontested election, Lambda elected a supermajority of white students to lead the organization. If the former Dean of Students had not intervened and required removal of the bylaw, we would have seen this year’s election results invalidated. We would have seen white students removed from the office to which they were elected solely on the basis of race, even though they bring to the board a diversity of experiences and viewpoints that, I am confident, will make them strong and effective as a group.
There are many reasons to support diversity, affirmative action, and even quotas, in a number of settings. I won’t argue those merits here. But it is difficult to heed a call for diversity and inclusion when it is accompanied by segregation. Power structures, imagined or real, do not justify targeting students because of the color of their skin—period. And if we continue to police whites and whiteness, diversity and inclusion at Harvard will be all the more difficult to achieve.
Stephen Manuel Silva is a 3L at Harvard Law School.
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