In a recent tweet from Harvard promoting their online education platform, the university decided upon a strategy that some have described as racist.
By insulting the intelligence and character of Kanye West and Kim Kardashian West with this gem:
“’Kim and Kanye are the intellectual equivalent of burgers and pizza — hard to resist, but with limited nutritional value for our hungry minds.’ Feed your brain with free online courses from @HarvardUniversity…”
Harvard’s tweet quoted the Harvard Business Review’s September 2018 article entitled Take Control Of Your Learning At Work. The article was, ironically, a cautionary piece warning about the obstacles to building a solid platform for self-education posed by click-bait headlines and the shallow content attached to them.
Amidst dozens of pointed criticisms in response to the insult, Harvard quickly removed the offending tweet, but not before the blowback took on a life of its own.
Prominent conservative Ali Alexander posted a screenshot of Harvard’s deleted tweet, and wrote, “Never, ever, make the mistake of devaluing what Kanye West and Kim Kardashian are bringing to the world.” Alexander called Harvard’s tweet “borderline racism.”
Author and filmmaker Mike Cernovich made another salient observation, “Harvard is defending itself in court against a massive racial discrimination class action. This Tweet will come in handy in that case.”
Harvard is defending itself in court against a massive racial discrimination class action. This Tweet will come in handy in that case. https://t.co/l0xSexFeOq
I imagine he did not mean it would be handy for Harvard.
It’s almost laughable that such an insult should be leveled at Kanye West, a man who has risen to elite levels of success in nearly every endeavor he’s engaged in during the course of a near 20 year career in the public eye, and who’s net worth is estimated to have reached nearly a billion dollars.
So too for Kim Kardashian West who, though first gaining notoriety for little more than her beauty, has since created successful business ventures and in tandem with The Decarceration Collective has to date lobbied for the release and paid the legal fees of 17 prisoners who received life-sentences for non-violent offenses.
Kim Kardashian is funding a legal team that has helped 17 prisoners gain freedom over the last three months. The people released were serving life in prison sentences for low-level drug offenses. https://t.co/LvbIZIlRol
In addition, she has announced her intention to enter into the legal profession to continue her work on a deeper level.
Harvard, meanwhile, recently asked Ron Sullivan and his wife Stephanie Robinson, the first African-American deans in the university’s history, to step down from their positions as deans of the Winthrop House due to Mr. Sullivan’s brief inclusion in the legal team of accused sexual predator Harvey Weinstein. The university cited claims from students that they felt ‘unsafe’ about Sullivan’s involvement in the proceedings as justification.
Sullivan, in a public rebuttal published in The New York Times, suggested pandering to such emotional reactions was unproductive.
“Some students may have felt unsafe because I represented Harvey Weinstein,” wrote Sullivan. “But feelings alone should not drive university policy.”
In yet another ironic twist, Professor Sullivan has worked over the course of several decades to free thousands of wrongfully convicted prisoners.
Sullivan talks about his criminal justice work in his TED Talk from 2017:
It would seem Harvard finds prison reform distasteful, given its treatment of those pursuing it.
Hypocrisy is nothing new to Harvard University. Though claiming to value justice and diversity, the university forced the first two African-American deans in school history to step down over Professor Sullivan’s involvement in ensuring a proper defense was provided in a very high-profile case.
Harvard is also embroiled in a class-action lawsuit over systematic racism against Asian-Americans in the college’s admission process. Another lawsuit against Harvard calls out its decision to punish members of single-gender clubs.
In a final ironic turn to this story, in 2013 Kanye West made a surprise appearance at the Harvard Design School at the invitation of a group of its students. West gave an impromptu speech about the importance of design and the critical role that design students would have in shaping the future.
At the conclusion of his speech, West informed the students gathered before him that he was gifting them with free tickets to his concert later that evening. The students cheered, obviously excited and grateful. The university apparently found the appropriate response to West’s graciousness would be to insult his worth as a speaker in a Tweet six years later.
Husband, father, autodidact, physical culture enthusiast, podcaster, blogger, author, networking specialist, journalist, gardener, man of faith, personal sovereignty extremist and all around obnoxious self-promoter.