Chatroom: Sexual Assault and #RapedbyMorehouse

Michael: Ok, Cara — earlier today women at Spelman College held a protest over the egregious lack of accountability in instances of sexual assault with their brother institution of Morehouse College. You and I were talking about this a bit earlier. What about all of this really hit home for you?

Cara: My immediate thought is that this is happening all over the country. Almost every college seems to have a problem with rape and way too many fail to address it. Victims get punished or expelled and rapists never get charged. It’s pretty sad that I find myself feeling “lucky” to have made it through college without being a victim of sexual assault.

Michael: Right — the statistics on campus rape and assault are insane. And unfortunately (outrageously) many campuses are failing to do anything real or meaningful about it. Ironically, Vice President Joe Biden was at Morehouse campus not long ago decrying campus assault and yet, according to many victims, neither Morehouse nor Spelman has taken the appropriate steps needed to curb campus rape. Black women bear the brunt of not only being black in a society that devalues blackness but also being women in a society that devalues women. The African-American community is not immune to sexism and gendered violence — hearing the stories of rape and assault of black women just leaves me particularly deflated.   (more…)


Does Affirmative Action Help?

Uttering the phrase affirmative action conjures up a torrent of emotion in people from all walks of life. Putting the emotion aside, I’ve always been more interested in knowing exactly if affirmative action works. Does it help kids and teenagers realize educational goals that otherwise would not have been achievable?

Some say it does not. One of the most vocal opponents of the policy, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas has often stated that the stigma around being an affirmative action beneficiary is often greater than the opportunity the policy may present. In a 2003 supreme court case on the issue, Grutter v. Bollinger, Thomas — in dissent — wrote:

Who can differentiate between those who belong and those who do not? The majority of blacks are admitted to the Law School because of discrimination, and because of this policy all are tarred as undeserving. This problem of stigma does not depend on determinacy as to whether those stigmatized are actually the “beneficiaries” of racial discrimination. When blacks take positions in the highest places of government, industry, or academia, it is an open question today whether their skin color played a part in their advancement. The question itself is the stigma—because either racial discrimination did play a role, in which case the person may be deemed “otherwise unqualified,” or it did not, in which case asking the question itself unfairly marks those blacks who would succeed without discrimination.

The stigma, I believe, is very real. Not only in the minds of students who do not directly participate in affirmitive action, but also in the conscious of the female and minority students who must persistently push back the pang of uncertainty as to whether or not their spot was ‘deserved’.