Let Us Now Praise Courageous Men

Posted by Amanda M. Fairbanks


First, Judge Vaughn Walker's pronouncement: “Proposition 8 cannot withstand any level of scrutiny under the Equal Protection Clause." Walker went on to proclaim that “tradition alone, however, cannot form the rational basis for a law.”

Meanwhile, a debate involving another kind of diversity is raging at Hunger College High School in New York (former high school of the now-confirmed Elena Kagan). The New York Times reports that this past year, while public schools in the city averaged around 70 percent Hispanic and black, the school was "3 percent black and 1 percent Hispanic; the balance was 47 percent Asian and 41 percent white, with the other 8 percent of students identifying themselves as multiracial."

At issue is a written test that's the lone requirement for admission. And while things like interviews or portfolios of students work have been suggested in terms of increasing the diversity of its student body, the test remains. 

Enter Justin Hudson, an 18-year-old recent graduate, who is black and Hispanic. In addressing his class during graduation, Hudson didn't mince words (PDF of his full remarks):

More than anything else, today I feel guilty. I feel guilty because I don't deserve any of this. And neither do any of you.

We received superior teachers and additional resources based on our status as "gifted," while kids who naturally needed those resources much more than us wallowed in the mire of a broken system. And now, we stand on the precipice of our lives, in control of our lives, based purely and simply on luck and circumstance.

If you truly believe that the demographics of Hunter represent the distribution of intelligence in this city, then you must believe that the Upper West Side, Bayside and Flushing are intrinsically more intelligent than the South Bronx, Bedford-Stuyvesant and Washington Heights, and I refuse to accept that.

The entire faculty and about half of the 183 members of the student body responded with a standing ovation.

Somewhere, Judge Walker must also be smiling.

Photo via.