Burroughs Adding Machine

Social justice, arts and politics, life in New York City

Yes, Harvard Law School Students Can Be Racist, Too

A third-year student in Harvard Law School made racist remarks at a dinner earlier this week, then tried to clarify his wrong-headed remarks in an email. The recipients of this email forwarded it to their friends, who sent it to their friends, who shared the law student’s muddled thoughts with even more folks. The power of the Internet.

Among his remarkable comments is this one, justifying racism through a science experiment:

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.

One bad seed, as the cliche goes, does not mean we need to throw out the apple. But what’s most distressing to me is that this law student–pedigreed, entitled, and holding discriminatory views–is poised to join the highest echelons of power. How will his racist views affect his real-world actions?

Arguments against the uneducated nature of ignorance don’t apply here. Elite, East Coast, overeducated folks can be racist, too.

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Filed under: boston, harvard, law, racism, , , ,

Police Drop Charges Against Gates

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Latest news: Cambridge police are dropping the charges against African American scholar Henry Louis Gates, Jr. for “disorderly conduct” after breaking in to his own home.

No doubt more analysis and articles about the repercussions of this event–racial profiling? lackadaisical police training?–will follow.

Filed under: boston, racism, , ,

Racial Profiling in Cambridge

Harvard Scholar DisorderlyYou want to believe it doesn’t happen. You want to believe that it would happen to anyone, regardless of race. You hope it’s just an honest mistake.

Last Thursday, Henry Louis Gates, Jr. was arrested outside his own home in Cambridge. A neighbor called police after witnessing “two black males with backpacks on the porch,” with one “wedging his shoulder into the door as if he was trying to force entry.”

Clearly, this could have happened to anyone. A person forgets his keys, climbs in through a back window. It would be neighborly and helpful for a neighbor to call the authorities to check it out.

What is troubling about this case is the extent to which the Cambridge Police officers continued their line of questioning. Once Gates produced his Harvard identification and driver’s license, the officer continued to question him. To a reasonable citizen, proof of identity–much less residence status–would be enough to back off.

Makes you go hmmm.

Filed under: boston, racism, , , , ,

Harvard and the Gays

harvard_gateNews from the ivory tower: Harvard has endowed the nation’s first chair in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered studies. This will be the first of its kind, and was established by the school’s gay and lesbian caucus.

CUNY established the first gay and lesbian studies program in 1986. Activist Larry Kramer tried to endow a chair in gay studies at Yale in the late 90’s.

Filed under: boston, education, gay rights, , , ,

Publications

BIOGRAPHY

RECENT PUBLICATIONS
» "Pinays," AGNI, Spring 2016
» "Dandy," Post Road, Spring 2015
» "Wrestlers," Fifth Wednesday, Spring 2014
» "Babies," Joyland, August 2011
» "Nicolette and Maribel," BostonNow, May 2007
» "The Rice Bowl," Memorious, March 2005
» "The Rules of the Game," Screaming Monkeys: Critiques of Asian American Images (Coffee House Press, June 2003)
» "Deaf Mute," Growing Up Filipino (Philippine American Literary House, April 2003)
» "Good Men ," Genre, April 2003
» "The Foley Artist," Drunken Boat, April 2002
» "Squatters," Take Out: Queer Writing from Asian Pacific America (Asian Am. Writers' Workshop, 2001)
» "Deaf Mute," The North American Review, Jan 2001
» "The First Lady of Our Filipino Nation," The Boston Phoenix, 1999
» "Paper Route," Flyway Literary Review, 1996
» "Brainy Smurf and the Council Bluffs Pride Parade," Generation Q (Alyson, 1996)
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Ricco Villanueva Siasoco is a Manhattan-based writer and non-profit manager. More

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