On July 25th, Kathleen McKinley, a political blogger for The Houston Chronicle, tweeted a picture of a pledge from Dallas Justice Now that a friend from the Dallas area sent to her. A letter titled ‘College Pledge’ asks white parents not to allow their children to “apply or attend any Ivy League School or US News & World Report Top 50 School.”
The letter begins accusing the white parents in the Highland Park Independent School District of “benefit[ing] from enormous privileges taken at the expense of communities of color.” And how exactly are these parents doing this? The letter explains, as a matter of fact, that whether these parents know how they’ve been exploiting or not, they “earned or inherited [their] money through oppressing people of color.”
Luckily, because these parents are “Democrat[s] and supporter[s] of the Black Lives Matter Movement,” they can be useful “white all[ies]” for Dallas Justice Now’s agenda, despite their oppressive nature. And acting as the arbiter of justice, Dallas Justice Now has decided that the least these allies could do for the movement “to make our segregated city more just” is not to allow their children to attend prestigious universities because doing so “takes away spaces from students of color.”
Well, that’s a lot to take in. But first and foremost, let’s not gloss over the description of Dallas as “segregated.” Dallas may have some issues with zoning and housing, but I can’t think of a more flippant trivialization of the actual segregation that African Americans experienced under Jim Crow than calling any place today in America “segregated.” Besides this disagreement, allow me to express my agreement: I do think white students who get accepted into these schools take away spaces from students of color, as well as from other white students. Simply because not all white students get accepted into Ivy League schools; and any student who gets accepted obviously crowds out every other student applying for the same spot.
But let’s say you believe, as Dallas Justice Now believes, that we do live in an institutionally racist society where white people hold all the powers that be and discriminate against people of color in our society and our universities. And that these universities, as the letter says, have “afforded white families privilege for generations.” If this is true, how exactly would preventing white students, specifically in Dallas, from attending these universities solve the problem? If these schools really do have a tendency to discriminate, then wouldn’t these schools just simply afford the same privilege to white families outside of Dallas instead? So, in theory, the pledge wouldn’t even help people of color in Dallas attend those schools — it would just ensure that both white students and students of color living in Dallas do not attend those schools at all. The pledge is absurd.
The pledge is absurd enough to make Tim Rogers, a writer for D Magazine, hypothesize that the letter itself is fake. After reading his article, I do agree with his many legitimate and logical reasons for thinking so, but that doesn’t mean, as he concludes, that the whole pledge is fake. Unbeknownst to Tim, the same pledge is displayed with the same demands here on the website; this time calling you a “racist hypocrite” if you don’t sign the pledge. How compelling.
Anyway, based on the internet’s outrage and willingness to believe it’s a hoax, it seems that accusing people of being horrible oppressors and then telling them that they should hold their children back from their dreams is not the greatest PR strategy. Unfortunately for Dallas Justice Now, they managed to make their strategy as equally absurd as the pledge itself.
One more thing, let’s say that these white parents actually are oppressive to communities of color through earning or inheriting wealth. If this is true, then wouldn’t some obvious solutions to the problem described be to ask them to pledge to move out of their wealthy neighborhood, quit their oppressive job, give their inherited money to charities that help people of color, or anything of that sort? That would make more sense than a college pledge, right?
Regardless of the pledge’s absurdity, if you are interested in actually helping people of color, here are some organizations that I would recommend donating to: