Thursday, January 14, 2021

Kristen Clarke, the Department of Justice and America's Racial Issues

Joe Biden's recent nomination of Kristen Clarke to the position of Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Department at the Department of Justice as shown here:


...and here:


...has drawn some unexpected interest from unexpected quarters.

Just so you can put a face to the name, here is a photo of Ms. Clarke:

Here is what Biden had to say about his list of nominees, including Ms. Clarke, to the DoJ (my bold):


Our first-rate nominees to lead the Justice Department are eminently qualified, embody character and judgment that is beyond reproach, and have devoted their careers to serving the American people with honor and integrity. They will restore the independence of the Department so it serves the interests of the people not a presidency, rebuild public trust in the rule of law, and work tirelessly to ensure a more fair and equitable justice system. They are among the most accomplished legal minds in our country who also reflect the best of America’s full range of talents and background. I am honored they accepted this call to serve at such a critical time in our nation’s history.


Now, let's look at a bit of history about Ms. Clarke.  As her C.V. shows, Ms. Clarke is a lawyer and received her Bachelor of Arts from Harvard and eventually, a degree in Law from Columbia University.  While at Harvard, Ms. Clarke was the President of the Black Students Association.  Back in 1994, she submitted a letter to the Harvard Crimson, Harvard's daily student newspaper which was published on October 28, 1994.  Given that things disappear from the internet with great regularity in the post-truth era, for your illumination, here is a screen capture showing the letter in its entirety:


Since the screen capture may be difficult to read, here is the text of the pertinent sections of the letter which was co-authored by Kristen Clarke and Victoria Kennedy:


"In response to those who defend The Bell Curve ("Defending The Bell Curve," Opinion, Oct. 24, 1994), please use the following theories and observations to assist you in your search for truth regarding the genetic differences between Blacks and whites.


One: Dr. Richard King reveals that at the core of the human brain is the "locus coeruleus" which is a structure that is Black because it contains large amounts of (neuro) melanin which is essential for its operation.


Two: Black infants sit, stand, crawl and walk sooner than whites.


Three: Carol Barnes notes that human mental processes are controlled by melanin--that same chemical which gives Blacks their superior physical and mental abilities.


Four: Some scientists have revealed that most whites are unable to produce melanin because their pineal glands are often calcification or non-functioning. Pineal calcification rates with Africans are five to 15 percent, Asians 15 to 25 percent and Europeans 60 to 80 percent. This is the chemical basis for the cultural differences between Blacks and whites.


Five: Melanin endows Blacks with greater mental, physical and spiritual abilities--something which cannot be measured based on Eurocentric standards."


As background, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life  is a 1994 book written by political scientist Charles A. Murray and psychologist Richard Herrnstein examines racial differences in intelligence (IQ) scores.  The book garnered significant media attention and created a great deal of controversy regarding its views on race, intelligence and genetics. Here is a summary of the Brookings Institute on The Bell Curve:


"While most criticism of The Bell Curve has focused on the authors’ claim that racial differences in IQ test scores are, in part, genetic, many of the book’s most important claims have escaped scrutiny. They shouldn’t. The book’s basic premise–that IQ is becoming the decisive force in determining economic rewards and social position–is demonstrably false. Herrnstein and Murray’s evidence on the difference between black and white test scores in various occupations does not show what they imply it does–massive reverse discrimination. In fact, their own evidence showing blacks and whites with the same test scores earn the same wages contradicts such a claim. Further, differences between blacks and whites in annual earnings, and the employment discrimination revealed in employment audits, suggest that blacks continue to be disadvantaged in the labor market. Because the authors sharply exaggerate the importance of I.Q, the book is excessively pessimistic about the potential role of carefully selected government programs in improving the lives of the disadvantaged. In all the controversy over the authors’ claims about race and intelligence, these points should not get lost."


All of that said, it is interesting to see the viewpoint of Kristen Clarke on racial issues and the link to  intelligence when she was a student at Harvard.  While she may no longer be promoting her earlier beliefs, there is no doubt that she held some fairly biased views of her own when it came to Black superiority.  Whether she can be trusted to maintain a non-biased viewpoint while holding the position of Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Department at he Department of Justice is a great unknown.

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