I just did an appearance on MSNBC regarding Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan. After being peppered with emails all morning from a member of The White House staff, who seemed disappointed that black scholars are coming out against Kagan, I did a short inventory of all the reasons that I cannot, in good conscience, support this woman for the Supreme Court. How many reasons do black people have for NOT wanting Elena Kagan on the Supreme Court? Let me count the ways:
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1) How do you hire 29 people, with 28 of them being white? While serving as dean at The Harvard Law School, Kagan did not hire a single African American tenured or tenure-track faculty member. This says, very clearly, that Elena Kagan doesn’t care about black people, at least when they are applying to be professors. It also says that with all the applications that poured in every year from top black attorneys, she didn’t feel that one single black, latino or native American scholar was qualified to teach at Harvard university. How can a school that claims to have such strong minds hold onto such an ignorant belief system?
2) Kagan didn’t hire any black people when she served as Solicitor General, either: Randall Kennedy, a black law professor at Harvard, came out in defense of Kagan, attempting to help us realize that she is Harriet Tubman in disguise – that she will whip off the mask and come through for black people in the end. He also argues that Kagan didn’t have enough power as dean at Harvard to make any minority hires. Alrighty then. In my 17 years in academia, I’ve never once seen a dean who didn’t know how to make things happened if they wanted to. But let’s assume that this is the case – that somehow Kagan, a woman with enough connections to be nominated for the Supreme Court, was somehow a powerless flunky at the Harvard Law School. What did she do when she actually had hiring power as Solicitor General? Nothing….nada….zippo. Once again, she hired three white women, one white man, an Indian man and an Asian man. Not one single Black, Native American or Latino person in the bunch. I’m starting to see a trend here, are you?
3) The same old Harvard/Chicago/Obama connection overrules actual credentials in the nomination process: Let’s be clear – Elena Kagan is not the best person for this job: ]Kagan was selected because she is the most qualified white liberal friend of Barack Obama who was willing to take the job. Her connections to The University of Chicago and Harvard University are the likely reasons she made it to Obama’s short list, for he has had no shame in showing his loyalty to other members of the Ivy League. Kagan’s appointment to the Supreme Court would be a Harvard/Yale sweep of the court, a tremendous insult to the other outstanding legal minds who didn’t go to Harvard or Yale.
I was very happy to see black law professors take a stand against the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court. T’he reality is that she is nothing more than a clear reflection of the racist, elitist power structure, and does nothing to represent hope or change from a president who has trouble delivering either. I respect Barack Obama and appreciate political pragmatism, but black and brown people as a collective do not need to remain at the back of the bus. It’s time for real change and Kagan is certainly not it.