The Secrets within the Ivy: The Continuation of White Supremacy

Upon recently reading the New York Times op-ed piece by Ross Douthat, The Secrets of Princeton, I am reminded of Dr. Joe Feagin’s words:

White racism today remains “‘normal’” and deeply imbedded in most historically white institutions. Every such institution is still substantially whitewashed in its important norms, rules, and arrangements…it seems likely that a majority of whites cannot see just how whitewashed their historically white organizations and institutions really are.

The editorial piece discusses a recent submission from guest contributor of The Daily Princetonian and Princeton alumna, Susan Patton, who controversially declared that the women of Princeton should, “Find a husband on campus before you graduate.” She goes on to say:

I am the mother of two sons who are both Princetonians. My older son had the good judgment and great fortune to marry a classmate of his, but he could have married anyone. My younger son is a junior and the universe of women he can marry is limitless… As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are. And I say again — you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.

Oh no, she didn’t!! Sorry, I was channeling a number of high school students I work with. But nonetheless, apparently from the slings and arrows she received for publishing her essay, Susan forgot the first two rules of the Ivy League:

1st RULE: You do not talk about the secrets of the Ivy League.
2nd RULE: You DO NOT talk about the secrets of the Ivy League.

Douthat noted many of her ideological opponents deem her as a turncoat to feminism. Her betrayal of acknowledging a truth, which Douthat feels many who attend Ivy League institutions are conscious of, is Patton’s biggest crime. A truth that encompasses the ideas that these places of highly manicured lawns and pristine historically well-kept buildings are focused not only on the pursuit of academic excellence, but also the charge of preserving racial entitlement while safeguarding the advantages accrued over generations in order to be safely transmitted to the next.

Even though these institutions over the decades have visibly discussed racial diversity and applied a dash of the finest cosmetic makeup to cover their blemished pale skin, Ivy League schools continue to be, as Feagin states, “whitewashed.” The quest for meritocracy continues within the 21st century. The current mode of protecting white interests, access to power, and purifying the elite is constant in country that attempts to convince its people that they are living in a post racial society. Albert Memmi understood this mechanism of racial supremacy when he stated,

racists are people who are afraid…generally it is because one wishes to obtain or defend something of value…the necessity to defend an individual identity and a collective identity, against all who come from elsewhere and don’t belong, is in operation.

This is not a declaration that all who attend these settings are racist per se, but the institution itself and those that practice the dark arts of the white racial frame, are definitely protecting historically privileged White placement on a hierarchy while simultaneously dispensing unequal treatment for a marginalized people. Its systems do not freely and equally entitle Blacks and Latinos to the same resources, power, and empathy as predetermined for the privileged placement of Whites. This is definitely illustrated within their modest number of students and faculty of color.

But then again, what do I know. I was poor and attended a state school.


  1. Joe

    Thanks for the sharp post. It is very significant that the elite media ignore your point, and only focus, if on that, on her anti-feminist view….. You are quite right that the truths are supposed to stay hidden: we are not egalitarian, we are not meritocratic, we are not democratic…. It is amazing the number of Illusions we Americans still live by…. in the ‘modern’ world.

  2. Shari Valentine

    Great piece. My daughter is a freshman at Princeton. We come from blue collar not blue blood lineage. She sent me the original Patton article and a late night phone call to discuss her outrage. My primary reaction was Douthat’s rather than a predictable feminist pushback.

    We talk/email at least once a week about her observations of the entitled and unreflective privilege of her classmates. She emailed this piece
    from a female black Princeton alum addressing the privilege and racial casting of the Patton letter and Princeton itself.

    You mention Black and Latino marginalization and Douthat mentions Asian de facto discrimination, my daughter and I, are very conscious of the invisibility of Native Americans in this discussion and in the atmosphere at Princeton. She notes that at her elite Ivy there is no more knowledge of or sensitivity to our Native practices than there was in our typically unreflective small town in Texas. For her, this is the norm.

    She is learning at Princeton how normal the class privilege in America is as well. And how disconcerting it is for her. Even though she has an educated mother, is bright and competent enough to be accepted to 3 Ivies and is not having trouble with her coursework, she is conscious most days of having a fundamentally different outlook on and intake of “the Princeton experience.”

    She decides on a daily basis, often several times a day, whether to ignore this privileged norm or take issue with it. And when taking issue how to do so most effectively. For myself, I am just glad, so far, she does not feel inclined to become a part of it.

  3. gemstone

    Excellent post. I applied to two Ivy League schools and was rejected, like thousands of others. I’m now glad I didn’t get in. And one of the strongest reasons is the lily-whiteness entrenched within the social life and culture. I wouldn’t be able to stand it. The stench of the snooty white privilege would be unbearable.

    Off topic. I tried to click on the “contact us” tab and nothing pops up. Is it disabled?

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