Harvard has first “blacks only” graduation ceremony

As The Independent reports, Harvard University, my alma mater (Ph.D) will hold a “blacks-only” graduation ceremony in six days. It won’t replace an existing ceremony, but is an add-0n:

Harvard University will host a graduation ceremony exclusively for black students, organisers have announced.

More than 170 students and 530 guests have signed up to attend the event, which will be held 23 May.

All-black ceremonies have been held at other US universities, such as Stanford and Columbia, but this will be a historic first for Harvard.

The event was crowdfunded by students who raised over $27,000 (£21,000). This year, the all-black ceremony is open only to graduate students, but organisers hope to open it up to undergraduates next year.

“This is an opportunity to celebrate Harvard’s black excellence and black brilliance,” Michael Huggins told The Root website.

Mr Huggins, who is graduating with a master’s in public policy from the Harvard Kennedy School, added: “It’s an event where we can see each other and our parents and family can see us as a collective, whole group. A community.”

Another organiser of the event said the ceremony would also draw attention to the experience of black students at Harvard and other elite institutions.

“Harvard’s institutional foundation is in direct conflict with the needs of black students,” Courtney Woods said.

“There is a legacy of slavery, epistemic racism and colonisation at Harvard, which was an institution founded to train rising imperialist leaders. This is a history that we are reclaiming.”

I can understand why black students at Harvard would want to have an organization, a center, or an association, but a blacks-only graduation strikes me as exclusive (I won’t say “racist”, because now “racism” is supposed to be “prejudice PLUS power”) and a form of academic segregation.  And how many such exclusive graduations can we have? Hispanics? Jews? Is it okay to have a a ceremony “exclusively” for blacks but racist if you had one “exclusively” for whites? What would Martin Luther King think of this, with his famous dictum that people should be judged by the content of their character, not the color of their skin? Would he approve?

The article ends by noting this:

Last year, Harvard admitted its highest ever number of African-American students. However, they still comprised just 14 per cent of the 2016 population.

But that’s a tad higher than the percentage of African-Americans in the country as a whole, which is slightly above 12%.

However, the New York Times says this, showing some underrepresentation:

Black students at Harvard represent 5 percent of the overall student body, compared with whites, who make up 43 percent, according to federal education data. Campus tensions at the Ivy League school have been heightened over the past two years after a series of racially charged episodes.

It may be taboo to even raise questions about this ceremony, and I pondered not posting this, but decided to start some discussion. Remember, though, that African-American students will still get their diplomas, as far as I know, at the regular ceremony for all students.

89 Comments

  1. Randy schenck
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    If it somehow does something for them to have an exclusive get together, I suppose they should have it. I am not African American so it is not my call. They should remember, however, this is exactly what white people has been doing to them for many years.

  2. Rod Berne
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    Whites are 43% of Harvard, 65% of U.S.

    Blacks are 5% of Harvard, 14% of U.S.

    So both are underrepresented.

    But there is one group who is vastly overrepresented. I’ll let you all figure out who.

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

      The group with the highest SAT scores?

      • Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:05 pm | Permalink

        I don’t know that that is necessarily the case. It might well be the children of alumni, or of the 1%.

        • Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

          Could be. I thought Rod was referring to Harvard’s lid on Asians because they are over-represented.

          • Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

            “I thought Rod was referring to Harvard’s lid on Asians because they are over-represented.”

            I assume he was, but that response was too obvious. I also wanted to point out that white people have an advantage as well in that they are disproportionately the children of alumni as well as the 1%.

            • Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:28 pm | Permalink

              That’s an advantage for the children of alumni. It’s not an advantage for ‘whites’. Other white people benefit jack shit from this.

              • Posted May 17, 2017 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

                “That’s an advantage for the children of alumni. It’s not an advantage for ‘whites’. Other white people benefit jack shit from this.”

                Something that disproportionately benefits white people does not have to benefit ALL white people for it to disproportionately benefit white people. Based on your reasoning college affirmative action programs don’t benefit minorities, because it only benefits minorities who go to college. This has been explained to you by others before.

              • Posted May 28, 2017 at 7:55 pm | Permalink

                Big distinction Mike Paps is missing:

                Affirmative Action directly benefits selected members of certain identified groups, but white is not one of those identified groups. Affirmative Action disproportionately benefits some (not all) non-whites directly because it is designed to do so.

                Legacy admissions directly benefit some (not all) children of alumni regardless of race/ethnicity unless there is unfair discrimination in the selection process. Legacy admissions disproportionately benefit whites only because there are disproportionately more whites to benefit from it. That can change with greater access to higher education (and eventual alumni status) for non-whites.

                Race/ethnicity is a criterion for determining who is eligible for Affirmative Action. It is not supposed to be (and doesn’t need to be) a criterion for determining who is eligible for legacy admissions.

                One can debate whether Affirmative Action and/or legacy admissions have net indirect benefits for those not directly benefiting. But that’s not the issue I’m raising.

    • GM
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      But there is one group who is vastly overrepresented.

      It is overrepresented and yet it is in fact underrepresented, because if you belong to that group you many need to score 200-300 points higher on the SAT to get in than a black student.

      There is in fact blatant discrimination going on in the admissions process:

      1. Racial discrimination against Asians
      2. Racial discrimination in favor of blacks and latinos at the expense of both whites and Asians
      3. Class discrimination in favor or kids from wealthy/influential families, which is at the expense of middle class and poor whites and Asians

    • Kevin
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

      Is it Jews? Most Jews I have met are, on average, smarter and harder working than most. I also met way more Jews in college than in public life. I would guess Asians too.

    • Jim Smith
      Posted May 18, 2017 at 2:12 am | Permalink

      As a white male, if the vastly overrepresented mysterious demographic is ‘overrepresented’ because of ‘merit’, I have no problem with it whatsover.

  3. Malgorzata
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Did the organizers of this ceremony establish rules for parents when one is black and the other white? Will only the black one be allowed in as to not disturb sensitivities of other “blacks only” participants in the festivity? Or, possibly, they will allow the parents of the wrong color to sit hidden somewhere at the back, behind a curtain?

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

      I think only students have to be black, so I don’t think there would be a problem with relatives and significant others of other races. My question is whether they going to have some sort of a rule on just how black a student have to be to get invited, because in your example the student would technically be only 50% black.

    • steve oberski
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

      And then there is the thorny issue of those who identify as black, the transracial black students.

      Will there be a color test to determine eligibility, a veritable color barrier ?

      The irony of this would be so delicious if not for the very real damage that this sort of nonsense will cause.

      It’s a long and bumpy trip down this rabbit hole and at the end of the day you will end up pleasing nobody despite the most valiant attempt to please everybody.

  4. Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    In a way I am happy for them. But this is one more example of the splintering of society into groups along lines ethnic or religious or cultural. Where will it end? Whatever happened to the melting pot?

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:14 pm | Permalink

      Snowflakes don’t tolerate melting pots.

    • somer
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

      Yes overtly segregating creates problems. Theres the issue of who qualifies and then once you start overtly segregating – how many minorities and sub minorities

      And whilst there might be widespread prejudice against blacks outside whats imposed by the law in many regions increasing special treatment will entrench some of this – especially in rustbelt etc areas where there is real unemployment, and serious competition for education for service and other non industrial jobs. Its a difficult issue but I can’t see how this will help anyone and its pandering to the whole de facto [Divided We Stand] stance of identity politics where the majority starts to feel despised

  5. Denise
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    I see you’re accepting the redefinition of the word racism. Do we have a word for what racism used to mean? And is it still to be considered a bad thing?

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

      No, I’m not accepting it; I’m pointing out how many people use it. I adhere to the old definition that leaves out the “power” bit.

      • Smegma
        Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

        If the new definition of racism is true then the KKK isn’t racist. They don’t have power anymore, so technically, they aren’t racist…I feel dirty saying that.

      • JonLynnHarvey
        Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

        We need to have multiple words for ‘racism’ just as the Greeks had four word for love. I have long held that malicious racism and stupid racism are two separate phenomena and a lot of confusion results when the two are giving the same label.

        • Kevin
          Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

          Racism is a spectrum. Just like ethnicity and the existence of liberal rednecks.

        • Denise
          Posted May 17, 2017 at 6:04 pm | Permalink

          And then there’s the racism that you have just by being a member of the oppressor class.

    • somer
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

      racism is racism. But we need to be realistic that all cultures engage/have engaged in it at some point. That its a particular species of kin preference. Also its a balance of who is doing what, how power is distributed by who -everyone has different kinds of power not in the need little categories SJWs say – and whether some kinds of power on balance serve to improve their material lot – and lack of other more onerous types of control/subordination they experience from elsewhere. Obeying the law has benefits at least in a non dictatorial society or where there is severe real material danger to the society. Work requires specialisation and subordination to authority – necessary for production. If the society is overall more prosperous than other models thats for the good (although regulation is necessary – its how much and does it destroy other elements of well being for the people over all). When minorities are affected how much are they affected – if severely what is needed – and will the remedy actually cause them other harms that are actually more severe. I measure the harm as serious subordination affecting their freedom seriously with no essential material benefit or seriously and deliberately humiliating. Harm is also serious constraining of all sorts of opportunities. Harm of course is also serious physical/material hurt or impoverishment. Harm is not just emotional perception or some hair splitting right or some minor harm.

      • somer
        Posted May 17, 2017 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

        Not in the need little categories SJWs say – should be “Not in the NEAT little categories SJWs say”

    • Jim Smith
      Posted May 18, 2017 at 2:14 am | Permalink

      Redefinition? Prove that your ‘definition’ isn’t the ‘redefinition’. I thought PostMod was based on inherent biases. You must have missed the first class.

    • Dan
      Posted May 19, 2017 at 7:14 pm | Permalink

      So, if racism is prejudice+power, then is it ok for an ethnic minority like my little brown asian self to use the word NIGGER to refer to people of African descent? Intriguing.

      Sadly I am cisgendered man or else I would also like to add CUNT to my everyday language.

  6. justin seabury
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    This kind of action and behavior is just high grade ammo for actual racism – the real definition of the word and not that “predjudice plus power” thing. We will never achieve equility if everybody but the “group in power” gets to be treated differently.

    • justin seabury
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

      I meant to say ” High grade ammo” for actual racists – Right wingers love this kind of stuff.

    • eric
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 8:27 pm | Permalink

      Yes I agree. Whatever good it will do, it will also prompt white racists to hold ‘whites only’ graduation ceremonies.

  7. Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:24 pm | Permalink

    “Is it okay to have a a ceremony “exclusively” for blacks but racist if you had one “exclusively” for whites?”

    IMO, it is racist either way.

    In today’s world it is also racist for me to simply suggest that exclusive ceremonies based on race is racist. This is because, since I am white (and male), I am automatically guilty of being a white supremacist, so everything I say is racist.

    WRT to the special definition of racism which you cited just prior to that question; the definition which defines racism in such a way that whites cannot be the victims. I reject that definition because it was invented precisely so as to exclude whites. This is the very essence of racism itself. But then, being a white male, I’m by definition a racist so that rejection is racist.

    We are, all of us, slipping deeper and deeper down this rabbit hole. There is no way out I can see. I will be gone soon, thankfully, but I grieve for my children -and their’s to be- who will have to live in this Brave New World.

    • Heather Hastie
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Personally, I accept the definition of prejudice plus power.

      However, people who don’t like this definition, and quite frankly, most of those who use it, assume that male WASPs are always in the power position. There are circumstances where they are not in power, and therefore can be the victims of racism imo.

      I don’t have a problem with this ceremony as long as it’s not a replacement for the ceremony that includes everybody. The participants organized it, arranged the funding, did all the work etc. I’ve no idea what it’s like being black at Harvard, so I can’t speak to whether it’s good or bad move.

      • Jonathan Dore
        Posted May 17, 2017 at 4:07 pm | Permalink

        My first thought would be that any negatives associated with being black at Harvard are vastly outweighed by the enormous privilege of being anyone at all at Harvard. If you’re attending the richest university in the world, which has produced more Nobel prizewinners than any other, you have, educationally speaking, already arrived at the very pinnacle of global privilege.

      • Posted May 17, 2017 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

        One can come up with countless hypotheticals (and undoubtedly some real ones) where hatred of another because of their skin color occurs when power plays no role.

        It seems to me that another word is needed when power differential plays a role in racial hatred, because the definition you accept is too often used (present company excluded) as a cudgel rather than a useful descriptor.

        For that reason I reject it and think another word should be used if that is what is meant. But I’m under no illusions. A different definition will not be adopted because the current one is much to useful as a weapon.

      • Posted May 18, 2017 at 11:36 am | Permalink

        Wouldn’t it have to be *relevant* power?

        Or alternatively, how does one understand social power in general?

        • Heather Hastie
          Posted May 18, 2017 at 2:17 pm | Permalink

          Both really difficult questions, and good ones. I’m saying it depends on the situation, and I’m not sure I could make any hard and fast rules that would always apply. And as Jonathan has pointed out, when it comes to the real world, most coming from Harvard are going to have an advantage whatever their background. That’s a lot of privilege right there.

          • Posted May 19, 2017 at 11:19 am | Permalink

            Indeed. I remember Susan Haack (I think it was) pointing out that as a female university professor she has a lot more power (however understood) than a homeless and jobless male.

            • Heather Hastie
              Posted May 19, 2017 at 1:14 pm | Permalink

              Yes.

    • Posted May 18, 2017 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      + 1

  8. merilee
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Permalink

    sub

  9. Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:43 pm | Permalink

    From the linked NYT article:

    “This event is truly open for everyone,…We really want this to be an open affair where people can learn about some experiences that often go unnoticed.”

    If this is true, then it is not like people with other skin colors are forbidden from attending. Other student organizations do similar things. For example, Jewish Student Union at Virginia Tech has a similar ceremony for Jewish students:
    http://iec.vt.edu/advocacy/ceremonies.html

    From the above:
    “Aliyah is a celebration of achievement for Jewish undergraduate and graduate students. The Jewish Student Union (JSU) designed this ceremony to provide graduates with a positive and rewarding experience”

    • Malgorzata
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Permalink

      You have changed my mind or at least got me thinking. I reacted impulsively. Yes, any group should have the right to celebrate the achievements of its members. Of course, nobody should be excluded from the audience but the people celebrated can be members of one group, however defined. When I started to think I remembered a celebrations of Polish graduates of British universities, my friend who belongs to a society of women graduated from Glasgow University (she studied there when women were still in a stark minority) and all other possible groupings with Jewish groups in so many countries. Yes, the same goes for black graduates from Harvard. Sorry for rambling, I’m still in the painful process of thinking.

      • Posted May 17, 2017 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

        I felt exactly the same way right after reading about it in the Independent (and a few right-wing sites). Apparently, none of them felt it was important to mention that the event was open to everyone to attend. And NYT mentions it toward the end of their piece. Instead, most headlines contain the keywords “exclusive”, or “all-black” which has certain unpleasant connotations.

        I just think the media spins any story in the most sensational way to get more clicks, and they do it for every story they report. It is hard not to get carried away.

  10. Ken Kukec
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

    Kenneth Clark is rolling over in his grave.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

      Thurgood Marshall, too.

  11. Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    As some have commented above, this is but an extension of the self segregation that occurs in society in general. At my Alma Mater waaay back in the early ’70s, there was an exclusively black fraternity as there probably is today. I also believe that this is not the first time such celebrations were held though this one was announced as such.

    More to the point as news, both of the real and fake variety, become almost instantaneous I sometimes feel that things that went unnoticed in days past achieve recognition and are denounced or praised with almost as much rapidity.

  12. Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

    “If this is true, then it is not like people with other skin colors are forbidden from attending.”

    I am sure some people of the wrong color will be allowed to attend, but only those students with the correct skin color will be honored. If you switched colors what do you think would happen?

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

      Oops. Meant in response to fixer above.

      • Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

        ^grrrrr

        ****Meant in response to FOXER above****

        ….incompetent boob…

        • Merilee
          Posted May 17, 2017 at 4:06 pm | Permalink

          Hey! As an owner of boobs I take offense at your mention of incompetent boobs🐸

        • Posted May 17, 2017 at 6:14 pm | Permalink

          As an “incompetent”, I take offense at your use of the word”incompetent”. Double whammy: I’m also a boob owner.

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Any cultural or ethnic minority should be welcome to celebrate its achievements as a group (with certain boundaries of course). It can be inspiring and some good may come out of it. In any case, it is no big deal.

      And I really don’t see any problem in celebrating the achievements of white students as an ethnic group. But it doesn’t make as much sense simply because they are the majority. The main graduation event is already mostly about white students and faculty. So what would be the point?

      • Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

        “The main graduation event is already mostly about white students and faculty.”

        An astonishing claim.

        • Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

          What is astonishing about it? Whites are the majority and it is only natural that most non-thematic events be about the majority.

          To be more exact, replace white with non-black. The point stands: there is nothing wrong with a minority to celebrate its members provided the event does not promote hate and violence and I have seen no evidence that the graduation ceremony for Harvard black students has such goals. They even emphasized that everyone will attend the main graduation event.

          • Posted May 17, 2017 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

            So are you telling me that at Harvard graduation ceremonies they laud the accomplishments of whites? Do they even mention -at any time during the ceremony- the color of the people getting their degrees?

            I do not have a problem with private groups celebrating their achievements. I even think it’s ok if it is given the imprimatur of the University so long as it is recognized for what it is; exclusionary and divisive.

            • Posted May 17, 2017 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

              Where did I say they laud white accomplishments in the graduation ceremonies?

              Minority experience is different than the majority because if it was not, then it would not have been called “minority”. Minority members often face tougher barriers in addition to all the problems and shortcomings every other member of the society has to face to achieve something.

              I only pointed out that there is nothing wrong with celebrating this different experience whether it is Jewish, Asian, or black students. Moreover, in response to some of the comments demanding an “all-white” ceremony, I noted that it will not make as much sense simply because whites are the majority and whatever they want to celebrate will be covered in the general event.

              I never made any claims about the content of the ceremony. Of course if the ceremony advocates some form of supremacy, it will doubtlessly be racist. Do you have any evidence that such thing has happened or could happen?

              • Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:08 pm | Permalink

                Ok. Now I’m confused.

                The black only graduation ceremony will be mostly about black students and their accomplishments (this is fine with me – see below). You claimed that “The main graduation event is already mostly about white students and faculty.”

                How? HOW is the main graduation event mostly “about white students and faculty”? Merely being in the majority doesn’t make that so. The only way this could be true is if they *singled out* whites. That could be considered racist. It shouldn’t escape your attention that this is just what they are doing in the blacks only ceremony.

                Again, it’s theirs. They -or anyone else- can have it if they want. I don’t like pretending it is something it is not.

                I won’t say anything more.

              • Posted May 17, 2017 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

                Merely being in the majority doesn’t make that so.

                I believe it does. But it is not something I want to contend over. It is not the main point I am trying to make here.


                will be mostly about black students and their accomplishments (this is fine with me…

                Then we agree on the main point. There is nothing extraordinary about this event. Other minority student groups do it all the time too.

              • Jim Smith
                Posted May 18, 2017 at 2:20 am | Permalink

                Be more specific. Cause Jews and Asians don’t seem to have ‘tougher times’ when it comes to college. Next time your going by the loser classes for employment you might notice there is a dearth of Jews and Asians in the loser course. It’s not because of racism. It’s because Jews and Asians tend to take winner courses and leave the loser courses to losers.

              • Jim Smith
                Posted May 18, 2017 at 2:20 am | Permalink

                Be more specific. Cause Jews and Asians don’t seem to have ‘tougher times’ when it comes to college. Next time your going by the loser classes for employment you might notice there is a dearth of Jews and Asians in the loser course. It’s not because of racism. It’s because Jews and Asians tend to take winner courses and leave the loser courses to losers.

  13. Stan Pak
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Permalink

    I think that this should be challenged by organizing the “white only” celebration. Just to prove the point. I would guess there will be protests etc. but such debate would immediately raise questions whether racial or ethnic ceremonies are appropriate.

    Just like Satanists did for school sponsored fairs inviting religious folks to give Bibles to kids. As a result school cancelled the event, as I recall, sealing the debate.

  14. Posted May 17, 2017 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    Well, why not go all the way and establish universities that are all black..or all white…and you could start this by segregating dorms by race too. And cafeterias. And fraternities. The new principle: self segregation is OK as long as you are black. And then you can have lunch counters in the south that only serve blacks….oh, sorry, I meant whites. Wasn’t it those who started the civil rights movement? I am really getting confused. But so is everyone else.

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      It does make the head spin, does it not. Or maybe the pendulum swing?

    • Larry Cook
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

      Surely you’re aware that black universities do exist and have for a long time. However, I don’t know but I think they were founded because blacks we’re excluded from most universities at the time.

    • BJ
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

      At a lot of schools, regressives are now demanding entire dorm buildings that are exclusively for marginalized groups, so they don’t have to feel “unsafe” by possibly seeing someone who is white at any time in their building.

      Horseshoe theory once again. Segregation. No mixing. Keep the races apart. Sounds like another, far more loathed-in-history group?

  15. Larry Cook
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    Sorry to be so disagreeable, but this is plain wrong and yet another illustration of how races are moving farther apart. To comment that they’re only doing to whites what white people have done to them for so long is wrong in so many ways that I’m surprised I have to point it out. First of all, my ancestors didn’t come to this country until 25 years after the Emancipation Proclamation and for a long time they faced signs that said “No Irish need apply”. Second, I was brought up to at least try to be color blind and third, through educating myself by reading science books I struggle to understand, I’ve come to the knowledge that race really doesn’t exist, at least as so.ething that makes us substantially different. Am I the only one who sees this as another step backwards in our struggle for freedom for all of us?

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:54 pm | Permalink

      You are not the only one. Unfortunately I believe it is unstoppable.

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 6:28 pm | Permalink

      I agree with you. I would very much like to see all people acknowledging (celebrating?) the elements of our humanity that are alike or similar. I would like for us to fully incorporate the understanding that we are in the same family and, that our differences are primarily surface and relatively unimportant. I want the movement to be closer together, not back towards segregation. I didn’t expect our country to be fighting this battle again. May it be corrected before I must leave the planet at the end of my old age.

      That being said, and for whatever reason they want it, I don’t have a problem with black students arranging for their own separate gathering and celebration. However, it isn’t really a “graduation”.

      Congratulations to all our graduating university students. You make us proud. And, more power to all of you. May you do better at fixing the world than we’ve done.

  16. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    I’m both in favor of the ceremony and very opposed to the characterization of Harvard as
    “an institution founded to train rising imperialist leaders”.

    Originally founded to train Puritan ministers, it became dominated from early on by Progressive figures like Henry Ware and Samuel Webber.

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

      FWIW, the ceremony does not bother me. It is odd though to attack your alma mater for ancient wrongs on such occasion. I thought you sang Fair Harvard.

  17. Posted May 17, 2017 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    ‘This is an opportunity to celebrate Harvard’s black excellence and black brilliance’

    I think we can all agree that they are a credit to their race.

    I congratulate all of them on their achievements.

    • steve oberski
      Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

      In the same sense that the brown eyed students of Harvard are a credit to all the brown eyed people in the world.

      Or those who break their eggs on the big end are a credit to all big endians of the world.

  18. Hempenstein
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Will there be additional signage for the bathrooms and water fountains?

  19. Ken Phelps
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 4:36 pm | Permalink

    “… ‘racism’ is supposed to be ‘prejudice PLUS power'”

    Well damn, that’s going to leave a lot of hillbilly types without a hobby, now isn’t it.

  20. steve oberski
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 5:02 pm | Permalink

    I anticipate the forthcoming gender segregated graduation ceremonies for Orthodox Jewish and Muslim students.

    And those for evangelical Christian and Catholic students that exclude divorced, homosexual and transgender students.

    Or those for extremist Hindu students that exclude meat eaters.

    The possibilities are endless.

  21. Henry Fitzgerald
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 6:12 pm | Permalink

    …I won’t say “racist”, because now “racism” is supposed to be “prejudice PLUS power”…

    And this ceremony demonstrates the emptiness of that slogan. Presumably the people organising this ceremony have the power to keep some people from attending. So even on this circumscribed definition of “racist”, why isn’t this enough to make them racist?

    The only prejudiced people who lack the power to express their prejudice at all, are the ones in comas.

  22. DrBrydon
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

    “Harvard’s institutional foundation is in direct conflict with the needs of black students . . . .”

    I think the tense is incorrect there; it should be “would have been.” It’s as if nothing at Harvard had changed in 400 years. The implication of the statement is that nothing that Harvard has done, or could do, will ever be enough to erase Harvard’s racist past.

    • Posted May 17, 2017 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

      The same could be said for the efforts our country has made to achieve equal rights for all people. There was a time when an event like this exclusively , or primarily, for black people might have been considered potentially dangerous and could have brought about severe, or deadly, repercussions.

    • Posted May 18, 2017 at 11:39 am | Permalink

      After all, we are talking a university which chronologically at least could have had Galileo on the faculty!

  23. eric
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

    And how many such exclusive graduations can we have? Hispanics? Jews? Is it okay to have a a ceremony “exclusively” for blacks but racist if you had one “exclusively” for whites?

    Well since these are all privately funded, I guess they will have as many and of whatever type as these groups deem to choose.

    And yes obviously, it will be considered racist if whites do it – but in truth, my guess is that whites-only graduation ceremonies would indeed be prompted by white racism rather than any sort of social ennobling motive, so I can’t say there’s much of a double standard here as much as there is a recognition of the reality that minority groups are often sincerely motivated to do good by such events, while when you see a ‘white’s only’ event, there’s a very good chance it’s either a poorly thought out political joke or straight-up racism.

    Personally, I’m sad that the students feel they need it. But I’m also sad that we live in a world that produced that feeling in them. What we should be working towards is a world in which no minority person feels they need such an extra ceremony because they aren’t made to feel oppressed or treated as a second-class citizen in the first place.

    • BJ
      Posted May 18, 2017 at 1:40 am | Permalink

      Most of these students are pretty darn privileged (in one of the best schools and graduating), and remember, wealth, education, and status are the real privileges of this society.

      I don’t think it’s our society that made them feel they need this ceremony; I think it’s their professors and the general regressive left ideological grip on campus politics. Most, if not all of them, are indoctrinated into these politics through the school staff and its attendant social circles.

  24. Charles Sawicki
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 9:00 pm | Permalink

    Encouraging divisions like this is a bad idea. We should work to encourage an egalitarianism that transcends separation. Many of the problems of Muslim majority countries including total absence of democracies, free speech and the lack of functioning legal and policing systems relate to aspects of Islam that encourage division and conflict.
    As the wealth gap increases, America follows a different path towards the same kind of end point with society splitting into opposed angry factions.

  25. Erp
    Posted May 17, 2017 at 11:08 pm | Permalink

    At Stanford the ceremony for Black students is only one of many that various groups have for their own communities. The Catholic community has a special mass (actually two, one is in Spanish). The Jewish community has a special Shabbat service and dinner (and a couple of other events). The LGBT community has its own celebration. The Hispanic community has a celebration. Asian American students and Native American students have celebrations. There are also unofficial celebrations by smaller groups (including the fraternities). These all happen on Friday/Saturday.

    Everyone then gets together for the main ceremony on Sunday (except those who overindulged the night before) and then split for the department ceremonies where the actual diplomas are handed out. Some of the students will be wearing something special from the previous day’s celebrations (students who went to the Black Graduation ceremony wear a Kente cloth).

    As far as I know there is no requirement to be Black to go through the Black Graduation ceremony (be a graduating Stanford student is a likely a requirement) just as no student group can limit students who wish to join (beyond limited membership music groups that can require an audition). I will note they do have a fee to be in the ceremony.

  26. Posted May 18, 2017 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    I don’t know why we should bother to care if a private university has a graduation ceremony for a particular faction of people. What’s the point? Who does it harm? Haven’t we bigger fish to fry?

    • Posted May 18, 2017 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      The point is to plant the idea that race is a real dividing factor and “black people are also doing it”.

      I still cannot believe people use the word “segregation” to describe what this ceremony is about. It is saddening to see how a moral travesty such as segregation can be trivialized to this degree, as if it was all a big joke which is sometimes played by whites and blacks on each other.

  27. J. Quinton
    Posted May 18, 2017 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    What do you know. We’ve gone back 60 years.

    Remember, separate but equal!

  28. Posted May 18, 2017 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    The first article I read about this stated at the very end that Harvard had already had Latino ceremonies for the past two years. Apparently it’s a thing.

    Somehow it seems more acceptable for a minority group to segregate themselves than for a majority group to exclude minority groups. I think it’s what you allude to in the OP; power plus.


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