While visiting family members shortly after I got into Harvard, my friend texted me angrily about a comment that her uncle had made after learning that I had been admitted but his son had not. He asked my friend for my SAT scores, which she did not know, and claimed I only got in because I was Latina.
I’ve gotten the requests for scores countless times. I’ve gotten the magical question of why I think I got into Harvard. I gave tours through the Admissions Office over the summer. It was my job to answer these questions. I got different feelings depending on who was asking. From prospective students, I felt a need to affirm their own statistics as they began their application process. From parents, I felt a need to affirm them that their kid could get in. But along with it, I felt like they wanted me to prove their suspicions right. After looking at average scores and GPA’s that had been publicized, I felt like they wanted my scores to see if they were as low as they expected them to be.
But we are not here to prove ourselves. We are not here to present our stats. The opponents can’t possibly fathom that maybe it’s easier to do better academically when your school is not underfunded and your parents can afford to pay for tutors and college counselors. Maybe it’s easier when you don’t have to constantly hear and see slanders about people who look like you. Maybe it’s easier to do well when your community is not constantly criminalized because of the melanin you carry with you wherever you go.
That never gets taken into account. The main thing that matters here is race. Not to mention that the people who have benefitted the most from affirmative action are not racial minorities—they’re white women.
I am not here to argue for affirmative action. At this point, it seems like a useless fight. You’d think after so many years, people would finally understand the need. At this point, I can’t really do much to change the minds of those people who believe they were wronged when they didn’t get accepted to a school that has a 5 percent acceptance rate. I can’t do much to silence the attacks that have been made by the opponents of affirmative action, the attacks that I have been on the receiving end of time and time again from strangers and my own classmates.
This is not for them. They do not deserve to keep getting attention for their ignorant beliefs. No. This is for the incoming students here who will receive their hatred.
You are all so much more than what they think you are. You are strong and resilient and have earned your place here. They will try to tell you otherwise, but I am here to make sure you know that you deserve to be here. These institutions were not made for us. They were designed by the people in power for the people in power.
But we are trying to change that. We must create our spaces here. You must take ownership of your identities and be proud knowing that you made it so far despite all the circumstances that stood in your way—circumstances that they are strangers to. They assume that the darker you are, the farther you fall below the average scores for the College. They don’t realize that life is more than just GPAs and test scores.
You have several communities available for you at this school. You don’t have to listen to the rhetoric that people spew without knowing anything about you. They try to paint your narratives in a single color that they view with disgust. But they don’t know what it’s like to be you. They have not lived your life and have not witnessed your hard work and your successes. They don’t realize that there will be many more to come.
Laura S. Veira-Ramirez ’20 is a Crimson Editorial editor in Leverett House.
In Da ClubWhat we need now, then, is a change in how these social spaces operate, and in the many assumptions that float among the sweat and smoke hovering above the dance floor
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