Amazing Grace, How Dangerous You Sound

The response below is based upon this email, in which Harvard Law Review editor Stephanie Grace indicates that she would entertain the possibility of the genetic intellectual inferiority of African Americans.

In most university research, much of the work that is done is completed by students.  They are often rewarded with co-authorship of the articles that describe the outcomes of their projects.

For the students who serve as editors of the Harvard Law Review (HRL), they go much further.  Serving as the sole researchers presenting their findings, interpretations, and editorials, these students’ journal is the second-most referenced legal publication in the country.  It means that practicing lawyers doing casework everywhere use the writings of these students to help them interpret the law and deliver their opinions.


As one of these HRL editors, Stephanie Grace then, is much more than an irrelevant and anonymous student.  She is amongst the elite of the elite: a third-year law student (3L), about to graduate from the nation’s most prestigious law school after having been an editor of its most prestigious publication.  Ms. Grace has accepted an appointment with a circuit court judge, and already has credentials that put her on a high-arcing career path.

Simply put, Stephanie Grace has the resume’ and the platform to be an influential voice in legal matters.

So it is truly disturbing to read her email in which she states, among other things, that she does not “rule out the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent.”  If at some point Ms. Grace has to represent a Black client or as a judge preside over the prosecution of a Black defendant, how does she reconcile the racist suppositions she entertains with her ability to adjudicate fairly?  And while there are certainly people currently practicing law who share or even endorse the idea of inherent Black inferiority, how many of them have had the audacity to commit it to written record?  Moreover, in the context of our new “post racial society” (you know, since the President is Black, it means the racism and prejudice no longer exist.  As a matter of fact, neither does skin color or any other racial identifier!), what does it mean when one of the “best of the best” is still willing to entertain this inherently racist notion?

What is even more disturbing is the number of people who have actually determined that Black genetic inferiority is a topic for intellectual debate.  Like the author of the above article, I’ve read blog comments in which people have written that it is political correctness or fear of ‘uncomfortable truths’ that are the basis for the outrage over Ms. Grace’s email!  Please.  The problem “we” have is that it is patently racist to even entertain the idea of the genetic inferiority of a race of people.  Here’s the logical progression: a person questioning intellectual equality between races is unconvinced of the intellectual equality between races.  If people are not intellectually equal by race, then there are races that are intellectually subordinate, and races that are intellectually superior.  I know “we” like to say that racism is prejudice plus the power to subject others to it (and my disagreement with that idea is for another time).  This fits that idea, as well as the “dictionary” definition of racism.  And this ideology is even more dangerous in the mind and the mouth of someone who will soon be entrusted to interpret our laws.

The ideal outcome of all of this is a greater vigilance in the type of discourse we’ll accept as intellectually worthy, and a reminder that the face and tone of it may have changed, but reports of the death of racism are greatly exaggerated.

PreachMoSqrMaurice “Mo the Educator” Dolberry has been a science teacher, a math teacher, a Dean of Students, and a Director of Diversity over the past 12 years. He has worked at both public and independent schools from Minnesota to Florida, and is a long time coach as well. Maurice has won a few awards, including Who’s Who Among American High School Teachers in 2006, and is currently back in school full-time completing a master’s degree in multicultural education. Growing up, Maurice attended both public and independent schools, and he uses his variety of experiences to help others in their scholastic endeavors.

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0 Comments

  • BAnjeeB

    Reply Reply May 13, 2010

    Thank you for saying this better than I ever could! 🙂

  • Mo the Educator

    Reply Reply May 15, 2010

    Thanks! Hopefully we’ll keep the dialog going on this. It’s important to address the roots of institutional racism whenever we find them.

  • Syvell Hall

    Reply Reply May 17, 2010

    I agree with your point of view Maurice. I am also comforted in the fact that this “Women” has revealed her inner thoughts. Comforted because those thoughts are now a part of public record. Maybe in 10 to 15 years those thoughts and views will “bite” her. I’m willing to bet it will be sooner.
    Just maybe, she’ll lose some of her “intellectual” advantage due to them.. Just maybe, a young “intellectually subordinate” attorney or judge will hand her an “intellectual” reality check.
    Spoken words are often forgotten. The written word is forever! Ms. Grace has an tuff road to travel… She has just made her first major career mistake.

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