Stephanie Grace, a third year student at Harvard Law School, sent an email to a few (?) students in an effort to clarify remarks she made about race during a dinner conversation. The content therein is racist and sexist. She says she does not rule out the possibility that “African Americans are, on average, genetically predisposed to be less intelligent.” Less intelligent than what, I am not sure. However! She also states that she could “be convinced that by controlling for the right variables, we would see that they are, in fact, as intelligent as white people (the standard by which all intelligence is judged – Ed.) under the same circumstances. The fact is, some things are genetic.”
Things go downhill from there. She claims that “prenatal levels of testosterone” are to blame for women’s inferiority in mathematics. She also categorizes this as a “genetic,” so perhaps testosterone levels contribute to women’s inferiority in biology as well.
That email eventually made its way to several Black Law Students Associations (BLSAs) and now, the Internet at large. Despite Above The Law‘s efforts to keep her anonymous, Grace’s name got out, and people are angry! Some are angry about the content of Grace’s email, but many are angry that Grace’s “privacy” was not respected – that she is being “victimized.” Just browse Above The Law for a little while (if you can stomach it) to see where America’s future attorneys stand.
This post is not about Stephanie Grace specifically, because Stephanie Graces are a dime a dozen. This one just felt comfortable enough to put her pseudo-intellectual bigotry into an easily-transmittable format. The defenses of Stephanie Grace are more interesting than the woman herself.
You don’t really know her so how can you judge her?!
This is a case of youthful indiscretion.
You can’t expect a grown ass person who has attended two Ivy League universities to know what qualifies as racism and that racism is bad!
And that’s from someone who appears to agree that the email contains racist sentiments. But y’know, it was supposed to be private!
White people give Grace the benefit of the doubt, and beg others to do the same. White people are privileged to get the benefit of the doubt over, and over, and over again. Stephanie Grace is extremely lucky because her educational credentials, tone and seemingly rational thought process provide a thick layer of protection. But she sounds so scholarly! She doesn’t want white people to be smarter than black people; it’s just science! She’s not from the South!
Unfortunately, anyone who thinks Grace’s career is over as a result of this incident underestimates the market for racist, sexist writers and columnists, pundits and governors. She’ll probably become a judge. In conservative circles she’ll be hailed as a politically incorrect hero.
Despite this, everyone is very concerned about the repercussions for Stephanie Grace. But what about the repercussions for POC who come into contact with her and people like her? To be accused of racism–or outed as a racist–is not worse than being the victim of racism. A privileged person’s future is not more important than a marginalized person’s future, but it is given priority. Because privileged people have more to lose?
As an almost-graduate of Harvard Law, Grace is poised to attain real power in the world. She has a federal clerkship lined up for the summer. People with bigoted views must be outed before they climb the ranks and cause serious damage.