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April 03, 2015 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily

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420 Maynard St.

Ann Arbor, MI 48109


Edited and managed by students at

the University of Michigan since 1890.

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily’s editorial board.

All other signed articles and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.

The Michigan Daily — michigandaily.com
4 — Friday, April 3, 2015

Claire Bryan, Regan Detwiler, Ben Keller, Payton Luokkala, Aarica Marsh,
Victoria Noble, Michael Paul, Anna Polumbo-Levy, Allison Raeck, Melissa
Scholke, Michael Schramm, Matthew Seligman, Linh Vu, Mary Kate Winn,

Jenny Wang, Derek Wolfe



have often found myself drawn
to men of color. In high school,
a handsome, Black athlete made


something that no
white boy in high

been able to do.
My attraction to
him was magnetic
— and I justified
it as such to my
white girlfriends
who just “weren’t
into Black guys.”
Being a student
at a majority-white high school, I
shamefully felt the need to justify my
attraction to a minority student by
referring to it as “carnal.” It couldn’t
just be attraction. It couldn’t avoid
explanation. It had to be because
my body was heavy with desire, or
because he was a great guy. It had
to be because of something, because
we were different, and because oth-
erwise, to my peers, to this world, it
wouldn’t make sense.

My oldest sister, a college stu-

dent at the time, proposed a biologi-
cal explanation: “You’re probably
attracted to Black guys because bio-
logically you want to diversify
your gene pool for your offspring.”
Freshly immersed in evolutionary
anthropology classes, she tended to
overanalyze situations that required
no analysis. There was the opposing
argument that same-race prefer-
ences in sexual relationships actu-
ally benefitted the biological fitness
of one’s offspring. The latter argu-
ment, the racist argument, was the
one the majority of our white bodies
abided by.

As I experienced it, conversations

on race-based attraction occurred
all too much. Over cafeteria lunches,
we talked about hook-ups — ones
that had happened the weekend
before, ones that would happen the
following weekend, ones that we
wished would happen but never
would due to the ever-present, very
unscathed social hierarchy of high
school. A boy might have said some-
thing like, “There’s no one in school
that I want to hook up with,” and if
on the rare occasion someone pro-
posed the option of hooking up with
a Black girl, he might have said, “I’m
not attracted to Black girls.” Then,
directed at the one Black person
sitting at the table, he might have
added, “No offense.”

“No offense” was a phrase used

so often, uttered so reflexively, and
yet was so overtly offensive. It was
said with the ingrained belief that no
matter what came before it, as long
as it was followed by “no offense,”
the person saying something objec-
tionable would be absolved. I can’t
know what it must have felt like to be
a person of color in that situation, lis-

tening to an ignorant white kid deem
your whole race unattractive, but I
can only imagine that it was painful.

I won’t deny the fact that like

many of my peers, my sexual prefer-
ences have at times been reduced to
specific racial groups. It’s a deeply
concerning reality that no matter the
person, no matter how kind or good-
looking or smart they are, if they fall
into a certain racial category that has
been routinely associated with physi-
cal dislike, they’re not then consid-
ered to be the most “viable mate.”

Over Spring Break, my housemates

and I traveled to Naples, Florida, for
the week. It’s a small town — expen-
sive, well manicured, brimming with
rich, old white people. We download-
ed Tinder for the occasion, having
little intention of utilizing it for its
intended purpose: a meet-up. One of
my housemates, my good friend — a
beautiful Indian woman — swiped
her fingers across the screen of her
phone, sifting through the mounds
of Florida preps who had “just moved
to Naples, looking for a good time.”
After a little while and only a few
matches, she set the phone down. “I
miss Ann Arbor,” she sighed. “People
here are so racist.”

It was true. A platform like Tin-

der, a dating app governed by the
laws of attraction, fosters racism.
A person’s face comes into focus on
the screen, and if it’s not the color of
your liking, you swipe left. No con-
sequences. No one judging you for
your “inherent” sexual preferences.
There’s no need to justify why you
did or didn’t swipe left as it applies
to race. And this is arguably a more
concerning form of racism, the kind
hidden behind a screen, the kind
that holds no one accountable.

So, here is the pivotal question:

Is race-based attraction inher-
ent, or is it informed by the racial
associations that permeate our cul-
ture so deeply? When, during my
semester spent abroad, I strolled
the streets of Havana and received
cat calls that often began with
hola blanca, “hey white girl,” was
I in part being targeted due to my
whiteness? Absolutely, because a
country so polluted by slavery and
racial inequality can only construct
a reality in which a white person,
the former imperialist, is associat-
ed with superiority. And that is only
talking about Cuba, not America,
where racial inequality exists not
only because of our past history, but
also because of our present history.

It would absolve us of any social

responsibility if we denied the
fact that attraction is informed by
implicit racial biases, because to do
so would deny the complex systems
of racial inequality and racial con-
trol that America has created. For
instance, our knowledge of the fact
that the majority of incarcerated

people in this country are minorities
does permit us to form a racist asso-
ciation: If you are a person of color,
you are more likely to be a criminal.
To deny this association is to deny
the fact that we are racist because
of the complicated racially advised
context in which we live. And to
deny that is to deny that racism can
and should be unlearned.

There are arguments suggesting

that same-race preference is, in fact,
inherent. It’s thought that we are
intrinsically attracted to ourselves,
and that in unfamiliar situations,
we gravitate toward those who look
the same as us. This is corroborated
by the clumps of people seen walk-
ing together on campus, categorized
by their skin color, and occasionally
sporting their token friend of color.

While this might be argued as bio-

logical, it doesn’t really matter if it is
or isn’t. Same-race-based attraction
manifests the assumption that racial
difference indicates cultural and
economic difference, thus making
integration uncomfortable. Our soci-
ety has surpassed the need to explain
or justify things biologically because
we negate our biological needs every
day due to technological progress. In
which case, it doesn’t matter if there
is an innateness to same-race prefer-
ence — that preference, regardless of
its foundation, has been dramatically
shaped by racism.

We’re used to relying on our

attraction in order to dictate our

Attraction feels chemical, and it
is, so we go along with it. If it says,
“You only like white guys,” then
that’s who we seek out — white
guys. However, as we abide by what
our bodies might tell us without
challenging why, in fact, we feel
that way, we negate the possibil-
ity for our preferences to expand.
There’s no use in pretending that
we wear no racial lens when at
a party, when on a dating app or
when we’re noticing someone on
the street. But to recognize that
lens as problematic is to recognize
race-based preference as a problem.


intended to instill guilt. Guilt, at
its core, is useless. It’s meant to call
into question whether or not “just
not being into” a specific race is OK.
It’s meant to seek an answer as to
why we are willing to justify racism
on the basis of physical attraction.
It’s meant to propel the shedding of
certain associations that may have
caused you to consider an entire
group of people unattractive. Iden-
tify those associations. Feed them to
yourself. Remember that attraction is
based upon so much more than skin.
I’ll remember this, too.

— Abby Taskier can be reached

at ataskier@umich.edu.

Dear Michigan Law School community,
The #BlackLivesMatter movement does

not represent a new fight or a novel message.
#BlackLivesMatter is only the current name
on an ever-present struggle. The University, in
its own right, has struggled with race since this
law school was founded, since Gabriel Franklin
Hargo received his diploma, since we fought in
our nation’s highest court to protect our com-
mitment to diversity.

The core message of the #BlackLivesMatter

movement has always existed in different forms,
under different banners, calling attention to the
continued racial oppression of minorities in
American society. In its most recent iteration,
the movement grew in response to the post-
humous trial of Trayvon Martin for his own
murder. #BlackLivesMatter, per its website, is
“Rooted in the experiences of Black people in
this country who actively resist our de-human-
ization, #BlackLivesMatter is a call to action
and a response to the virulent anti-Black racism
that permeates our society.”

This letter is the University of Michigan

Law School community’s contribution to
the #BlackLivesMatter National Law Stu-
dent Day of Action that occurred on April
2, 2015.

It cannot be overstated that critical race

and economic discourses in higher educa-
tion — especially law school — are at best
overlooked and at worst invalidated and
misrepresented. Support from faculty and
administration is an important institutional
validation of students’ desire to self-educate
about the legal hardships burdening racial
minorities in this country.

Law schools have an imperative to take this

movement seriously, and to reflect on our own
role in perpetuating systems of racial oppres-
sion. Beyond reflection, we also have an obliga-
tion to take action. The law, truthfully, is both
part of the problem and part of the solution.
Here, at the University, many student organiza-
tions and professors have responded to recent
events through activism at the Law School. But
we can and must do more.

We call on our Michigan Law community to

achieve the following:

First, we ask students to recognize their

own power to change the classroom dis-
course on race and the law;

To demand race-conscious, intersectional

conversations in classrooms from professors
and each other;

To push for a curriculum that challenges

students to think creatively about the law, so
as to advance color-conscious claims on behalf
of clients;

To continue to work with one another to shift

the collective consciousness of the Law School
beyond acknowledgment of racial inequality
and toward tangible solutions;

To include people of color in student-led pro-

gramming; and,

To remember that as law students, we are

entering a space of privilege and power, and it is
our obligation, regardless of our future career
paths, to continue to check our own biases and
role in perpetuating inequality and oppression.

All students, regardless of career path, seek

acknowledgement and meaningful inclusiv-
ity by students, faculty and administration. As
peers, we have an obligation to pursue honest
conversations with one another about race and
other marginalized identities.

Next, we call on faculty to actively take

on the challenge of incorporating discus-
sions of race into their classrooms and

To nurture passionate and conscientious stu-

dents, who respect each others’ diverse back-
grounds and experiences;

To talk about race, recognize that the facts

of cases matter, especially those involving race,
and to include them in discussion. In taking
the safest route toward teaching the cases, by
avoiding such facts, professors are implicitly
teaching students to accept the cases as they
stand. Professors control the dialogue, and fear
of losing control is not a sufficient justification
for ignoring these demands;

To reevaluate their pedagogy, regardless of

tenure, and incorporate social justice dialogues
along the way, not just while discussing Goetz
or Dred Scott;

To, with administration, recruit and tenure

minority faculty, both in gender and race; and,

To question the status quo, give historical

context to the casebook, and confront the reali-
ties of social inequality and injustice head on.
The law does not stand separate from the soci-
ety and history from which it is produced.

If these demands seem shortsighted or too

burdensome, we pose these questions to the
faculty: If these difficult conversations do not
occur during law school, when are students to
learn the practical consequences of the cases
we study and ultimately litigate? If not now,
then at what stage in our legal careers should
we open our eyes to the social, political and
historical realities that perpetuate racial and
class hierarchies?

Finally, we call on the Law School admin-

istration to support students and faculty in
accomplishing these goals.

It is an obvious reality that there are sig-

nificant hurdles facing minority law school
applicants. From the outset, minorities must
overcome a variety of economic, educational,
social and political hurdles just to get their foot
in the door. The racial composition of our Law
School, and the legal field at large, unequivo-
cally demonstrates this fact.

Because of these realities, we ask that the

administration continue to recruit minor-
ity applicants to our Law School, intentionally
providing a culture and classroom that is sup-
portive and welcoming to all students, for the
benefit of all students.

We ask everyone to take a stand. Students,

faculty and administrators should be an active
voice in the local and national movement — host
events, contribute to scholarship, make public
statements of support. Keep the momentum
alive. Injustice remains. We must act — today.
Take a picture of yourself holding a sign
that says, “MLaw believes #BlackLive-
Matter” and post to social media with the
#BlackLivesMatter and #MLaw.

The University has always taken a leadership

role in addressing longstanding racial inequali-
ties. In casebooks, we are remembered for reso-
lutely defending affirmative action in Grutter
v. Bollinger — and we must continue to protect
such important principles.

Michigan Law is an undeniably special

place. Our aim in this letter is to show sup-
port for the #BlackLivesMatter movement
and improve race-based dialogues and prac-
tices within our community. We believe that
though much been done already, there is much
more that we can do.

The following individuals and organizations

have endorsed the aforementioned goals:

From Michigan Law:
Black Law Students Association
National Lawyers Guild
United Coalition for Racial Justice
Michigan Journal of Law Reform
Student Rights Project
Law Students for Reproductive Justice
Michigan Immigration and Labor Law Asso-


Michigan Journal of Race & Law
Asian Pacific American Law Students Asso-


Human Rights Advocates
Latino Law Student Association
ACLU Student Chapter
Other legal organizations and firms:
Sugar Law Center for Economic & Social


Julie Hurwitz (’82), Partner, Goodman &

Hurwitz, P.C.

Marilyn Mullane, Director, Michigan Legal


John F. Royal, President, National Lawyers

Guild, Michigan/Detroit Chapter

Written by Law students Meredith Osborne,

Miriam Schachter, Sophie Wolman, Jessica

Gingold, Amina Kirk, Divya Taneja, Peter

Calloway, Jim Thurman and Nick Kabat.

Examinng race-based attraction



Take a stand


here may be three games
left to go, and the month
of March has already come


without a doubt, I
was not a winner
of March Mad-

Of course, I can

take solace in the
fact that I have
lost along with
every single other
person who filled

Rarely do perfect
brackets last beyond the first day of
games, and this year was no differ-
ent. And for part of the first round,
my bracket was about as accurate as
a coin flip. A few rounds later, and
I can safely say that the $10 I spent
on my pool is no more, and such is
the punishment for my illegal gam-
bling escapades — and also for my
poor bracket choices.

Since I refuse to blame my own

knowledge for my incorrect selec-
tions — because why would I ever
do that — I’m choosing to blame
math instead. Picking blindly from
a field of 64 teams, there is roughly
a one in 9.2 quintillion chance of
picking a perfect bracket. That’s a
really big number, and I’m forced to
round it because the AP Stylebook
probably doesn’t cover what to do
with numbers that take three lines
of text to print. If you really want-
ed to win a billion dollars, you’re
better off trying to do it by play-

ing the Mega Millions lottery over
and over instead of winning War-
ren Buffett’s perfect bracket chal-
lenge. Even according to the best of
C-3P0’s calculations, picking a per-
fect bracket is two and a half qua-
drillion times more unlikely than
navigating the asteroid field.

I know, I know, never tell you the

odds. After all, a little bit of basket-
ball knowledge is better than blind
picking, and there is the wealth of
an entire Internet of statistics and
research in your arsenal. FiveThir-

predictions this year using every
statistical source at their disposal,
so surely they have a chance at get-
ting it right. And well, they do: by
their estimations, they have a one in
1,610,543,269 chance.

So, you’re telling me there’s a

chance? Probably not. That friend
in your pool who picked teams by
the ferocity of their mascots and
was sitting in a cool third place
after the first round is proof enough
— yes, University of Alabama at
Birmingham Blazers, I’m look-
ing at your first-round upset and
your dragon mascot. Meanwhile,
the hour I spent looking up team
research, log5 analyses and statis-
tics galore might as well have been
spent watching Jimmy Fallon lip-
sync videos.

Yet it’s the same cruel element

of chance that makes March Mad-
ness, well, mad. It’s looking up in
the lecture hall and seeing all the
computers throughout the audito-

rium watching Georgia Tech come
back and upset Baylor. Excitement
brought from the same mechan-
ics as picking a card from a deck
or rolling the dice, realized in the
extravagance of a sporting event.
The numbers and formulas become
irrelevant, replaced with the reality
they tried to describe.

Chance is the drive of the thrill

of everyday life. We’re all Charlie
Bucket, asking, “I’ve got the same
chance as anybody else, haven’t I?”
Chance itself is the Golden Ticket,
the device that takes the ordinary
and gives it a chance to be extraor-
dinary. It takes the monotony and
makes it into something undeter-
minable. Sometimes the only cer-
tainty is the existence of inevitable
uncertainty, the anticipation of not
knowing what lies behind the choc-
olate bar wrapper.

This principle of uncertainty

governs everything around us, to
the point where we conclude that
Schrodinger’s cat is both alive and
dead, and that’s somehow OK. You
can continue spinning the wheel,
around and around, knowing that
in the moment you’re spinning it
you are in control, and the moment
you let go you relinquish it all. So
you roll the dice, pick up whatever
card is on top of the deck, pass Go,
collect your $200 and go at it again.

Because all you really need is

a chance.

— David Harris can be reached

at daharr@umich.edu.

All you need is a chance


— President Barack Obama said of the nuclear deal struck with Iran on April 2. In exchange for

loosened economic sanctions, Iran agreed to reduce its nuclear program.


I am confident that we can show

that this deal is good for the security

of the United States, for our allies

and for the world.”

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