Elena Kagan and Harvard Law School

Our own guestblogger Diane Lucas is interviewed in an article about Harvard Law students’ reactions to Elena Kagan’s Supreme Court nomination. Diane talks about some of the racial issues at Harvard, and Kagan’s response (or lack thereof):

“It was blatantly sexist and racist,” Lucas said. “They depicted a number of women of color in the play, and one woman who is African-American, very intelligent, very well-spoken, they depicted her as being a ghetto girl from the ‘hood’ and they made her talk in ebonics and made it so that you could hardly understand what she was saying.”

Lucas said another African-American woman was depicted as promiscuous, and a Latina woman who in reality spoke English with an American accent was depicted as speaking no English. She said several students walked out.

But Lucas says when she and other students asked Kagan to issue a formal apology, set up diversity training and hire a diversity director, Kagan refused. Kagan defended the parody as students’ freedom of speech. From that, Lucas concluded that Kagan shirked her responsibility to make Harvard Law School a more racially sensitive place.


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About Jill

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
This entry was posted in Law, Politics, Race & Ethnicity, Racism and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Elena Kagan and Harvard Law School

  1. There is clearly more to this story, and I’d like to see a broader picture before I state an opinion.

  2. Tasha Fierce says:

    Kagan also has a really pathetic record of hiring women and people of color for tenured positions at HLS, I discuss it here if anyone is interested.

    Personally I think she’s the wrong pick, I would have liked to see someone with a less problematic stance on racial issues be the nominee. I’m glad some people on the left are discussing these shortcomings.

  3. victoria says:

    I was thinking of the recent posts here about Harvard Law School when I heard that Kagan was nominated. I’m glad for the background info, it’s helped wade through the newspeak about her nomination.

    @comrade kevin,
    Jill conveniently provided a hyperlink (on Diane’s name) to the guest post about experiences of overt racism at HLS and Kagan’s responses (or lack of), so between that previous post and the many comments following it, I’d say there’s quite a “broad picture” to opine about already on this blog.

  4. Roger says:

    I understand the free speech perspective in refusing to make them apologize (I assume that’s what that means–why would she apologize for someone else’s skit?). That being said, a sure sign of a wanna-be “moderate” is skittishly hiding behind the First Amendment in the face of deplorable conduct. Don’t want to sanction them? Fine. But for crying out loud, have the moral courage to condemn the skit as vile and wildly inappropriate!

    Don’t just toss up your hands and say, “sorry, free speech”; have a little “free speech” of your own!

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