A week ago, residents of Enchanted Broccoli Forest [a residential co-op at the university  — RD] discovered the words “No crackers!” scrawled in paint across their bus. Targeted towards whites from the South, especially ones who are poor and rural, the term “cracker” is widely recognized  as a racial slur.
You would think that residents of a supposedly progressive and racially conscious house would jump to remove a racial epithet from house property. Not so. When a resident posted a picture in the EBF GroupMe last Thursday, peers brushed aside the incident with off-color jokes.
A white Southerner resident in the house asked that the graffiti be removed, as it is racist and classist. Well, that did it:
Other residents accused Ian of piggybacking on the complaints of people of color to raise his less-important “white” concerns, while others shamefully tried to excuse the slur for being “deserved.” The graffiti didn’t matter because white people are, by nature, oppressive and racist, they said — all while enjoying the best university in the world, while rural whites suffer grinding poverty. If anything, a blatantly racist act of vandalism is far more clear-cut than the murky concept of “cultural appropriation.”
Residents repeatedly brushed aside Ian’s discomfort with the racist graffiti. Finally, a staff member explicitly endorsed the message on the bus, telling him (erroneously) that since “the word cracker, has been historically defined to mean ‘racist white person,’” that she agreed with the graffiti. Apparently too enlightened to take ten seconds to read the definition  of “cracker” as a term “for white people, used especially against poor rural whites in the Southern United States” (never including the idea of racism), she told her first-generation white Southern resident: “I hope we have no crackers here.” If such ignorant and bigoted remarks are not grounds for immediate dismissal from a staff position, we are not sure what are.
Here’s what it looked like:
And another resident of the house weighed in thus:
As much as the co-op counterculture may delude students into believing they are not privileged and different from their “sellout” classmates, the bottom line is that every one of them attends the best university in the world. Meanwhile, many poor rural whites, written off as “trash,” face  rising jobless rates, drug epidemics, and familial decay. Supposedly “woke” EBF residents would benefit from looking outside the Stanford bubble to avoid what law professor Joan Hastings condemns  as “class cluelessness — and in some cases, even class callousness.” Though they claim to recognize intersectionality, these students failed to recognize poverty as one of the most obvious ways that anyone could be disadvantaged, instead buying hook, line, and sinker the catchphrase “white people can’t be oppressed.” To allow these staff members to continue to hold their positions as community leaders would be a tacit endorsement of this sentiment.
Students at Stanford, no matter what their color, are among the most privileged people in this country, and on this planet. And yet, look: they justify hating poor white people on the basis of their class and their color, and they exalt themselves based not on anything they’ve done, but merely on the basis of their skin color and sexual desire.
Meanwhile, at Yale, the admissions office says :
To the students who have reached out to us with these concerns, we have made clear that they should feel free to participate in walk-out events to bring attention to this issue without fear of repercussion. Yale will NOT be rescinding anyone’s admission decision for participating in peaceful walkouts for this or other causes, regardless of any high school’s disciplinary policy. I, for one, will be cheering these students on from New Haven.
I have the pleasure of reading applications from San Francisco, where activism is very much a part of the culture. Essays ring of social justice issues. In the fall of 2016, students in San Francisco were campaigning on behalf of Proposition F, a measure which would have lowered the voting age to 16 for local elections and ballot measures. The proposal did not pass, but the message was loud and clear: this generation of teenagers care about the issues and are ready for their voices to be heard.
Now, high schoolers have taken the issue of gun control personally. And rightly so. The phrase “school shooting” is now ingrained in our national vocabulary; how could our teenagers possibly stand idly by? In high school, we teach students calculus and US History, literature and physics. We teach them how to write analytical essays and lab reports. But we also have to teach them how to think and feel and be proud and involved citizens of wherever they live. I believe it is our duty to teach them the latter just as much as the former.
For those students who come to Yale, we expect them to be versed in issues of social justice. We encourage them to be vocal when they see an opportunity for change in our institution and in the world. We value student voices on campus and we encourage discourse and action. To punish our applicants for doing just that would go against the very beliefs that make Yale such a special place to study. Instead, I support those high school students around the country and urge other educators and administrators to do the same.
What high schoolers across the nation are doing right now is brave, it is good, it is larger than an absence from school or a blemish on an academic record or a college admissions decision. If you can’t march beside them, at least stand behind them. And at the very least, do not stand in their way.
“Versed in issues of social justice”? Oh? What if students protested against abortion? What if they protested in favor of gun rights? Or what if their social activism included mission trips with their church? Would these things hurt their Yale applications? I am certain that any student who wanted to get into Yale, and thereby join the American elite, would do well not to mention any non-progressive activism. The gatekeepers know the kind of people they want, and do not want. The message they are sending is coming through loud and clear.
Just two glimpses into how the culture and institutions of the elite Left make Trump voters…