Opinion: Why the Harvard Report requires our attention 2022-04-29 07:08:14


As dozens of states have passed bills making it illegal for public schools to teach, teach, or discuss the deep history of slavery and racial injustice in America, the Harvard Report stands out as a breath of fresh air in a vast ocean of bigotry, fear, and lies.

appropriate address”Harvard and the legacy of slavery“The 134-page document demonstrates the depth and breadth of slavery in the university industry. Written by a panel of distinguished scholars and chaired by renowned historian, legal scholar and Dean of the Radcliffe Institute Tomico Brown-Survivor, the findings of the report were accepted by Harvard President Larry Bako, and issued a letter on behalf of the leadership of the school Define its commitment $100 million is earmarked for correcting past mistakes linked to the university’s unethical but economically profitable relationship with slavery.
The Report calls for money To be used in multiple ways: to create memorials and memorials to enslaved people who once worked at Harvard; To carry out a curriculum that can convey this history to students, scholars, and the wider public; To start a student exchange program at Harvard University and historically black colleges and universities and build partnerships to upgrade schools in the Caribbean and the American South.

These latter sites are important—both acknowledging the origins of the profits made by white elites at Harvard (and elsewhere), extracted from the lives and work of blacks who were then identified as a type of property. A portion of the endowment will be used to aid tribal colleges and trace the dynasty of more than 70 enslaved blacks owned by slave traders who had deep and intimate ties to Harvard’s former presidents, clergy and politicians.

The myths about slavery that still hold America
“The university is committed to sustainable, deeply meaningful treatments that will last forever,” Brown-Nagin told the New York Times. The report did not mention compensation, and in the same interview with The Times, Brown is a survivor Observed of “compensations” which “mean different things to different people, so focusing on that term, I think, can be counterproductive,”

The remedies proposed from the Promised Endowment, when implemented, would arrive too late for some of the descendants of enslaved blacks at Harvard who lived and worked in Boston—many unaware of their connection to the era when this venerable institution fattened its coffers with the wealth created from the wreckage of oppressed blacks.

Despite the breaking news gained from its $100 million price tag, the historical and contemporary context of the Harvard report is more important in the short term than the potential impact of actions that haven’t yet taken place. The Harvard report comes 16 years after Brown University, under the Ivy League’s first black president, the legendary Ruth Simmons (who then went on to lead Black Prairie View A&M), Publish a similar report That sparked accountability for slavery in elite schools.
Brown’s actions proved productive, with more than 80 universities in North America and Europe conducting their own investigations into her past relationship to slavery. r Georgetown Specialgently documented The history of the Jesuit institution’s relationship with slavery inspired the creation of a similar endowment that provided scholarships to some descendants of university-owned slaves to attend school for free.
We redefine blackness as a world and a gift

Despite the importance and pioneeringness of the Brown Report and subsequent investigations, Harvard is arguably more meaningful in 2022 because of the institution’s global impact and the critical timing of this report’s release.

Since 2020 At least 35 states have passed or considered passing legislation intended to prohibit the teaching of racial injustice in American public schools. The teaching of America’s long history of structural and institutional racism against Blacks, Native Americans, Latinxes, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and other groups has been labeled the “Critical Race Theory,” a phrase that became a key indicator in the nation’s new culture war.

Attacks on the teachings of hateful parts of American history, or in some cases mentioning them at all, are growing in scope and momentum as this election year rages on. Many of these attacks are rooted in conservative concern and intent to demonize “Project 1619” for the New York Times, a multimedia investigation into slavery and democracy edited by journalist Nicole Hannah Jones.

Derek Bell, one of the founders of critical race theory as a teacher of academic legal analysis, and the first permanent black professor of law at Harvard Law School, died in 2011. But if he was here, he probably wouldn’t be surprised in the way conservatives have demonized the CRT as a political tool to deny blacks their citizenship and dignity.

Civil rights attorney turned law professor, Bell’s work continues to shape generations of black and multiracial scholars interested in the relationship between race and the law in America. Bell’s 1992 bestselling book, “Faces at the Bottom of the Well: The Permanence of Racism,” rigorously predicted a whitewashed political backlash, the kind that fueled both the rise of President Donald Trump and the successful passage of so-called anti-CRT bills. They seek to avoid or deny the historical truth To protect the feelings of students and organize How employers can talk about race at work.

The Harvard Report then comes at a pivotal moment in American history, as the nation appears poised to either erase or bring back some of the bleakest parts of its past or move forward by taking bold steps to build a new world by sharing a new story about ourselves.

Instructively, the report documents the historical links—intellectual, financial, and direct—between Harvard University and slavery as an institution that created profit and leisure, added personal value and provided direct benefits to generations of Harvard students, faculty, staff, alumni, trustees and associates without ever acknowledging or contributing to black pain and suffering. The invaluable given by African Americans to the university.

Harvard not only used slave labor during the seventeenth century, but received a third of its finances during the first half of the nineteenth century from a handful of wealthy benefactors. whose fortunes have stabilized “Slavery and servitude produce commodities.”

This is heavy stuff.

The most exciting parts of the report, the ones that made me cry, come to the end. Annex I lists the more than 70 humans who were enslaved by Harvard University presidents, colleagues, supervisors, faculty, staff, and key donors. The pain I felt reading these names and parts of their stories was amplified as I thought about the gaps in the narrative, and the information we don’t have about them. I agonized over this knowledge, even as I understood that it would cause me (and others) more pain.

The biographical parts surrounding the enslaved woman Dina, who worked in the extended home of Harvard President Edward Holyoke during the 18th century, are particularly heart-wrenching. Her initial entry to this date was by recording her weight as a 51-pound baby. Twelve years later, she re-emerged as a domestic worker cleaning one of the Holyoke clan’s family homes. Dinah’s ultimate fate remains unclear, she may have left her position in slavery with the end of slavery in Massachusetts in 1780, but a more definitive answer remains elusive.

Nonetheless, a tireless optimist in me sees this report as an opportunity to obtain a deliberate, mature, and necessary push toward national reparations for racial slavery. The frankness of the Harvard Report, the foundation’s pledge of a $100 million grant to fix the wrongs of the past, and the care of committee members and President Baku in getting this right show as a model for more thoughtful, active, and influential confrontations to the legacy of slavery in other parts of the country. our country.

I hope every school teacher in America takes the time to read the report and share it with at least one student and friend. Parents, school boards, churches, synagogues and mosques should do the same.

Harvard, in its own small but significant way, by its willingness to confront the most inappropriate and inappropriate parts of its past, has taken meaningful steps toward the path to recovery. We can only build a new story for America–our past, present, and future–by confronting how we got to this moment together.