Sunday, May 6, 2012

The Controversy Over Elizabeth Warren’s Native American Ancestry: Warren and Harvard Should be Embarrassed

I have long admired Elizabeth Warren. As a person who grew up in Oklahoma, I am impressed that Warren rose from humble beginnings in Norman, Oklahoma to become a Harvard Law Professor.  I also admire her work in bankruptcy law and consumer-protection law.
Thus, I was greatly disappointed to read that Warren listed herself as a minority as she was advancing her academic career based on the fact that she is 1/32nd Native American.
Elizabeth Warren
Source: Harvard Law School
OTnline Directory
Not all the facts of this hullabaloo are known, but we do know that Harvard Law School touted Warren as a Native American law professor in 1996.  And, according to a Boston Herald story, she listed herself as a minority in a law school directory from 1986 until 1995.
If Warren is embarrassed by this controversy, she should be.  And Harvard Law School should be even more embarrassed.  Currently, Harvard Law School claims to have one Native American faculty member but won’t say who it is.  If it is not Elizabeth Warren, then who  is it?  Do you think it might be Alan Dershowitz?
Why is this controversy significant for student-loan borrowers? Students have seen their tuition go up every year while they borrow more and more money to finance their educations. Meanwhile, universities--and particularly,the nation's elite universities--have obsessed on race. Harvard Law School apparently thinks it struck a blow for equity by counting Elizabeth Warren as a Native American because her great great great grandmother was a Cherokee. What would higher education look like in this country if Harvard and other elite universities focused on substantive issues of access and equity instead of fixating on race.


Chabot, H. (2012, April 27).Harvard trips on roots of Elizabeth Warrant’s family tree. Boston Herald.

Chabot, H. (2012, May 4). Harvard won’t say if Liz Warren is listed as minority. Boston Herald.

No comments:

Post a Comment