Shirley Tilghman, President of Princeton, lectures
president of Princeton University and an accomplished molecular biologist,
recently spoke about the “vexing issue of race” during a public lecture at
Princeton University. The address, “The
Meaning of Race
in the Post-Genome Era,”
was sponsored by Princeton’s Center for African American Studies.
Established in September 2006, the Center for African American Studies had
existed as an academic certificate program at Princeton for 37 years. The center
moved to its home at Stanhope Hall in 2007 under the leadership of its first
director, Woodrow Wilson Professor of Literature Valerie Smith (left), who
opened the doors at the dedication ceremony with President Shirley M. Tighman.
her strong and sustained support for Princeton’s Black Studies, Tilghman was
introduced as, “Sister President."
President” began her lecture by dismissing as biased the works of her dead White
male predecessors. According to
Tilghman, the Swedish scientist,
equated race with innate character and based his conclusions on prejudice rather
than observation. The German physician,
Franz Joseph Gall,
was the first person to postulate that the brain was the organ of the mind; he
claimed that Europeans possessed superior skulls.
an English polymath and cousin of Charles Darwin, proposed “assortative mating"
for traits like intelligence and
confused social class with race. Tilghman did not mention Darwin, probably
because his conclusions would be jolting (See
criticized the American eugenicist and biologist,
for claiming that complex traits such as high intelligence and personality
characteristics were tied to race and for influencing the passage of the
eugenically inspired and restrictive Immigration Act of 1924.
stated that current evidence shows that the genetic differences between human
beings are very small, and that individual differences are significantly greater
than differences between groups. Predictably, she rejected the possibility of
finding distinctive racial characteristics determined by genome sequencing. In
spite of the enormous variation in physical attributes regarding size, color,
hair texture, etc., she stated that at the level of the genome these differences
are infinitesimal in number when compared with the enormous number of identical
shared genomes. Though one can predict the geographic origin of today’s
Europeans, Africans, and Asians with great accuracy, genetic distinctions are
declining rapidly as widespread immigration and intermarriage are occurring.
ignore the work of
and Henry Harpending
showing that, although there is indeed more variation within than between races
and despite a great deal of genetic commonality among all humans, the amount of
genetic variation between human races is significant, and therefore racial and ethnic
groups constitute large storehouses of genetic interests for everyone.
showing important racial differences in traits like intelligence that have very
large effects on achievement that are so important in contemporary societies. An
exclusive emphasis on human commonality and downgrading the
genetic variation grossly distorts the reality that genetically-based
differences have huge impacts on individual and group performance.
no one has come up with a formula to get rid of ethnicity as a form of identity
and as a vehicle of expressing interests.
Throughout the world,
ethnically diverse societies are marked by ethnic conflict. Intellectuals like
Tilghman have utopian dreams about a racial future free from conflict and filled
with peace and harmony, but we already know that ethnic diversity increases
social isolation and lowers trust both within and between races.
Tilghman, it is the small race-specific component that
constitutes “the challenge ahead” because information on race-specific genetic
influences on traits like IQ could potentially be employed to “sustain prejudice
and discrimination.” The lurking fear of finding incontrovertible
evidence of race-specific differences in important traits is the “vexing issue” of genetics.
But we already have
evidence that genetic differences are important. When even more
evidence is available, Tilghman and her ilk will doubtless ignore it. In the
end, it's all about politics for these people.
feminists seem to believe that they share a common enemy with African Americans,
namely, dead and living White men, and have therefore become great friends of
Blacks. They have found that by advancing the Black agenda they can better
further their own minority position (see:
ed. Stephanie Gilmore, 2008;
Anne Valk, 2008). Since becoming
Princeton's president in 2001, Tilghman has greatly expanded Black studies, has
recruited a number of controversial Black faculty, and has encouraged the
extension of the university’s affirmative action admission and hiring policies.
was the first to be welcomed to Princeton by Tilghman after he left a position
at Harvard where management did not appreciate his merits. In 2000, Larry
Summers, then president of Harvard, rebuked West for missing too many classes,
contributing to grade inflation, neglecting serious scholarship, and spending
too much time with his economically profitable projects such as issuing two rap
CD’s, and appearing in several Matrix movies.
West, in turn, accused Summers of elitism, a serious sin to the
multi-culturally minded. He was welcomed into the Princeton fold in 2002,
apparently because Princeton does not limit itself to rarified interests.
Tilghman Black studies appointee is
who was recently appointed as a Distinguished Visiting Fellow. An attorney and
environmentalist, Jones was selected by Pres. Obama in March, 2009, for the
newly created post of Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise, and
Innovation, at the White House Council for Environmental Quality. Jones, called
by Time Magazine one of the “Heroes
of the Environment,” was founder of the Black advocacy group, “Color of Change,”
Alas, due to
his outspoken manner, his time at the White House was all too brief. Due to
allegations of associations with Marxist groups in the 1990’s, his published,
disparaging remarks about Congressional Republicans, (calling them “a$$holes”),
and several nasty publicized vendettas, he was too publicly uncouth even for
Obama. Jones resigned from his White House position just six months after he had
been appointed to it. Not to worry – Princeton immediately offered him a
sinecure. The government’s loss is Princeton’s gain.
sympathy for Black causes is of long duration. In 2003, Princeton joined an
amicus brief filed with the US Supreme Court in support of the University of
Michigan’s affirmative action policy. The brief ensured that racial and ethnic
diversity constitutes a “compelling” interest in the admissions process of
“selective” universities like Princeton. In Dec., 2009, she received the
the highest honor bestowed by Harvard University’s W.E.B. DuBois Institute for
African and American Research, for her leadership in strengthening Princeton’s
commitment to African American studies. Princeton’s Center for African American
Studies was established under Tilghman’s direction in 2006 after existing as an
academic certificate program for 37 years. Tilghman recommended a greatly
expanded curriculum because she found race study for all liberal arts students
to be an “indispensable element of preparation for life in this country.” Since
2006 core faculty members have grown from 2 to 18. Associated and affiliated
members contribute another 18 additional faculty.
Courses have increased by 40%.
two of the ten courses offered in Princeton University’s Center for African
American Studies, Spring, 2010.
AAS 314/COM 39 Model Memoirs:
The Life Stories of
International Fashion Models
course explores the life-writing of American, African, and Asian women in the
fashion industry as a launching point for thinking about race, gender, and
How do ethnicity and femininity intersect? How are authenticity and
difference commodified? How do women construct identities through narrative and
negotiate their relationships to their bodies, families, and nations. Course
will include guest lectures by fashion editors and models; discussions of
contemporary television programs, global fashion, and cultural studies, and
student self narratives about their relationships with cultural standards of
beauty, whether vexed or not.
339 Josephine Baker and the Modern
does a black burlesque star have to do with the making of Euro-American
modernity? This course situates the performance art of Josephine Baker as a
dynamic fulcrum through which to trace the unexpected connections between the
invention of what might be called the “modernist” style and the staging of black
skin at the turn of the 20th
We will study her work in film, photography, and cinema as an active and
profound engagement with a range of modernist innovations and theories in the
fields of film, photography, architecture, art and literature.
Courses to extoll the virtues of O.J. Simpson and Michael Jackson?
To a president who has supported Princeton’s first post doctoral
fellowship in lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered studies, who endorsed
the creation of a new LGBT campus center, and who has acted in a student
production of the Vagina Monologues, these Black studies courses are, no doubt,
most suitably diverse.
Princeton University admissions policy is very welcoming of Black students. If
race is merely a social construct, as Shirley Tilghman implies in her
Post-Genome speech, then Princeton’s admission policy is most puzzling. Why give
admission preferences based on race if racial differences are only superficial?
In their article, “The
Opportunity Cost of Admission Preferences at Elite Universities”,
Thomas Espenshade and Chang Chung, two Princeton sociology researchers, describe
who gains and who loses as a result of admission preferences.
concede, that “a decision to admit one
student involves a choice not to
admit someone else."
Espenshade and Chung, currently, African-American candidates for admission at
the elite universities receive on average 230 extra SAT points, Hispanics 185
additional SAT points, recruited athletes, 200 points, and legacy applicants,
160 points. If bonus points were eliminated, the following would result.
African-American acceptance rates would fall from 33.7% to 12.2%, a decline of
almost two-thirds. In other words, the proportion of Black students would
decline from 9% to 3.3%. Hispanic acceptance rates would fall in half, from
26.8% to 12.9%, a decline of 7.9% to 3.8% of all admitted students.
The category of recruited athletes and legacy students is mostly White
applicants would be the biggest winners if racial preferences were eliminated
from the admission process. Their acceptance rates would increase from 17.6% to
23.4%. They would comprise 31.5% of all accepted students compared with the
actual proportion of 23.7% However, were Princeton to place a ceiling on foreign
Asian students, this number would be much lower.
In the absence of admission preferences and ceilings for Asians, the
number of White students would rise only 2.4%, an acceptance increase from 23.8%
at Princeton is 13%, well below the Ivy League average of 25%. These figures
match up well with the many studies which have found corresponding average
normal racial IQ: Asians 104, White 100, and Blacks 85 (see, for example, “Is
Race a Valid Taxonomic Construct,
by J. Philippe Rushton).
In order to
attract minorities to Princeton and the other elite universities, there is a
great deal of money available to fund financial aid to students from families
with low incomes. In their book, “No
Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission on
(Princeton University Press, 2009), Prof. Espenshade and Alexandria Radford
concluded that social class matters in the admission process, but it is usually
given less weight than race or ethnicity. Having a lower-class family background
was equivalent to having 130 additional points on the SAT.
However, the admission
preference accorded to low-income students appears to
be reserved largely for nonwhite
enthusiasm for increasing the number of Black faculty and Black students at
Princeton is exceeded only by her eagerness in placing feminists into key
positions. For some time now
criticism of her many appointments of women, to the exclusion of qualified men,
has been growing. Because she herself had no administrative experience when she
was appointed president, her very selection to that office caused alarm, as it
most certainly was based on gender. And gender parity is always on her mind.
Once chosen, she moved aggressively to appoint an assistant dean “to oversee
gender equity.” Within her first
two years as Princeton’s president, Tilghman appointed Princeton’s first woman
provost, first woman dean of admissions, first woman dean of the Woodrow Wilson
School of Public and International Affairs, and first woman dean (a
non-engineer) of the school of engineering. Recently she appointed a second
woman to become dean of the Woodrow Wilson School. She favors preferential
treatment of women, and envisions policies whereby women faculty will be granted
a longer tenure review period and subsidized nannies.
“A decision to admit one student involves a choice not to admit someone else,”
applies not only to student selection but also to university hiring. When the
goal is to achieve race and gender parity, White men are side-lined.
Not only are White males losers in the racial affirmative action student
selection process, they are doubly cheated when women receive preferential
treatment in the hiring process.
alumni magazine quotes Tilghman bragging, “This is not your great-grandfather’s
Princeton.” What a pity. Princeton was established in 1747 through the efforts
and with the financial resources of mostly Scottish immigrants as the
institution of higher learning for young Anglo men. Princeton’s association with
the Presbyterian Church was close, and its first thirteen presidents, until
Woodrow Wilson, were clergymen. The beautiful English neo-gothic campus chapel
is the third largest college chapel in the world.
Princeton’s sixth president, the Scottish born Presbyterian minister, John
Witherspoon, was a signatory of the Declaration of Independence.
White men established Princeton University and Whites have continued to finance
the institution which now has the 4th largest institutional endowment fund in
the Ivy League, and the largest endowment per student of $2,000,000. One
wonders why racial descendants of Princeton founders, i.e., parents and students
of European heritage, do not demand a White preferential admission policy and a
faculty and an administration reflecting their own ethnic heritage.
Trudie Pert is a pen name.