America’s Private, White, Elite Schools Need Reform. Now.

Their diversity statements are long on words but short on action

Tikia K. Hamilton, Ph.D.


Harvard University. Photo: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

All across the United States and at least three other continents, protestors insist: Black lives do in fact matter. The United States seems to be experiencing a seismic shift in what counts — to some White people at least — as an acceptable protest. A chorus of usual suspects has begun to lend a voice to matters that, just weeks ago, enjoyed their decades-long silence. As of now, the list includes Microsoft, Amazon, Airbnb, Nike, and, among others, the NFL. Now, in a come-to-Jesus moment, these organizations claim to be in solidarity with the Black community.

Of those, the latest organizations vying for the title of Grand Ambassador to the Black Lives Matter Movement are a slew of educational institutions that have issued diversity statements calling for more nuanced and extended conversations about race and identity. Harvard University, Emory University, and Boston College are among those who issued statements, as well as Princeton University and Dartmouth College, schools I attended.

While it’s nice to hear from these predominantly White institutions, much of what they are saying either falls flat or is mystifying in that the statements tiptoe around the issue of racism. For example, my…