Apr 30, 2010

Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School,  has released a statement in response to the controversy that erupted yesterday when a student's email discussing "the possibility that African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent." Here's an excerpt from Minow's statement:

"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."


The student who sent the email, Stephanie Grace, is currently a third-year at Harvard Law School. She has since emailed an apology to the Black Law Students Association, saying: "I am deeply sorry for the pain caused by my email. 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."  source

I think this should serve as a teachable for Stephanie and her peers.  Hopefully the Black Law Students Association will meet and dialogue with her.  Only through true dialogue can we start moving forward on the issue of race in this country.


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