Why Are Black Students at Harvard Having a Separate Graduation Ceremony?

In many ways, the history of the United States is the history of civil rights, whether you’re a woman who sought equal rights or an ethnic minority who simply wanted to be treated equally regardless of skin color, native language or country of origin. People both honored and ignored have braved hostile crowds and even sacrificed their lives on the altar of equality, and the nation has come a remarkable way in less than a dozen generations towards a society of equals.

As we’ve traveled this unquestionably challenging road, we’ve expanded the definition of equality to encompass more and more groups by gender identity, by sexual preference, even by height, weight and age. In contemporary America, equality is for everyone, and I do mean everyone.

Which is why it’s so hard to understand why black students at Harvard University held their own black-only graduation ceremony. Not only that, they aren’t the first college to do so: Stanford, Temple and Columbia have also had black-only graduation ceremonies. To be fair, these aren’t official university sponsored events, but in an era when people are marching, protesting and sharing their voices loudly across media both print and social, why would any minority group choose to be openly divisive?

Keep in mind that these are the same groups that complain vociferously when they perceive any evidence of discrimination, howling that “inclusion” must be respected and worshiped. Inclusion evidently means that a Bible group can’t meet on campus (That’s divisive! That ostracizes people who don’t believe in those religious tenets! The Bible is hate speech!), nor can the Campus Republicans have a guest speaker without physical violence being threatened.

Writing about the crazy left-wing PC world of a modern college campus is so cliché at this point that some liberals are even starting to see the vast idiocy of groups protesting inclusion while aggressively excluding people and groups that they don’t endorse. It’s another example of the widespread misunderstanding of freedom of speech: it’s not just about the freedom of minority groups to air their gripes, but of every group to have their moment at the podium.

But it’s hard not to wonder whether the Black Student Council at Harvard would endorse having Betsy DeVos as their commencement speaker, or would invite a member of the Trump family to the ceremony, or even sponsor a debate where they pit their sharpest, most eloquent speaker against Milo Yiannopoulos?

The answer is easy: they’d never endorse any of those possibilities. It’s easier to visualize a world where everyone’s a lock-step Democrat, happy to have their earnings overtaxed to ensure that everyone else in society has an all-inclusive safety net, middle-class level “minimum wage” and completely free health care. Easier to imagine a world where Caucasians—and anyone who looks even slightly white (which isn’t racist, though it’s easy to get confused)—is ostracized (Because: Collective guilt! Your ancestors were slave-owners! No white people have ever been poor or had to work their way up from a ghetto!).

Oddly, no other minority group at Harvard opted to have their own graduation ceremony. Not the LGBT community, not women, not Asians, not Hispanics, not Muslims, not the disabled. But maybe they’re just not “minority enough” to justify the “inclusive exclusivity” of the black-only graduation ceremony.

I just find it all very confusing, and suspect that there’s actually no winning on the modern college campus. No one is sensitive enough, no one can be inclusive enough and no one can possibly avoid micro-aggressions in their speech, writing, dress and actions. And cultural appropriation? That’s just another pike upon which you can be skewered.

Now let’s just see what all these students do once they’ve graduated and found out that changing national culture is a bit more difficult than wallowing in campus identity politics.

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  • Jilpi

    well said

  • gvanderleun

    Why are they separate? Maybe because their fellow students really can’t stand them any longer.

  • Agonizing Truth

    So I suppose it’s not segregation and “not” racist if minorities choose to segregate themselves? If I were the dean of Harvard I would agree to allow a separate black graduation ceremony on one condition: tying it to ending permanently all scholarships to Harvard being awarded to blacks simply for being black. From here on they would have to actually (gasp!) EARN their way in. Still sound like a good deal?

    • Unmutual One

      Sounds like a fantastic idea.