THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM | Combating White Supremacy Should Not Entail Throwing Other Black Students Under the Bus
On September 29, The Daily Caller claimed that Black Students United (BSU) at Cornell had insinuated in their list of demands to President Pollack on September 20 that Cornell “is letting in too many African students.” Upon seeing this headline, I dismissed the article as the click bait material straight out of a troll handbook. But because college has taught me to question everything and dismiss nothing, I took another careful look at BSU’s demands. Although the sensationalist article made it seem like BSU had called for Cornell Admissions to ask for birth certificates on the Common App as Trump did during the Obama presidency, to be clear, BSU did not explicitly say that Cornell should stop admitting African, first generation, and Caribbean students. The organization said “the Black student population at Cornell disproportionately represents international or first-generation African or Caribbean students” and that “there is a lack of investment in Black students whose families were affected directly by the African Holocaust in America.” Thus, “Cornell must work actively to support students whose families have been impacted for generations by white supremacy and American fascism.”
While advocating for increases in admissions of African American students is pertinent and should be a priority for all universities, insinuating that Cornell is overrun with foreign and first generation black students and that they are taking away the spots of American black students suggests that there are only a set number of spots for folks with melanin, a quota that should only be filled by a certain kind of black person. The kind of black students who should be here, as per BSU’s definition, are “Black Americans who have several generations (more than two) in this country.” Limiting the definition of “black” to only American students is treading xenophobic waters and unwittingly bolsters the misconception that black students are only admitted into Cornell because they are black.