Things That Matter

Black Harvard Law Students Are Saying That They Are In Fear Of Their Lives After Menacing Racist Emails Were Sent To Them

This past spring the world of academia proved just how little it cares for minority and disadvantaged students when it was revealed that various colleges and universities across the country were involved in a millions of dollars bribing scheme. In short, the scheme gave affluent students “back door” access to elite schools and proved just how important programs like affirmative action are for minority students. Of course, few were surprised when news broke that these students had paid their way into some of the country’s top schools. In fact, for many, it proved once again, that in a lot of ways money really buy you everything even a Harvard degree. Now, a new report from Buzzfeed News is reminding us once again, how little academic centers advocate for its students of color.  

In a new report by the news outlet, four first-year Harvard Law School students complained they have been targeted by racist and sexist emails and text messages from another student. They’re accusing Harvard Law School of not doing enough to deal with the verbal threats and harassment. 

The students are accusing Harvard Law School of upholding racist and sexist views by not doing anything to support them.

According to BuzzfeedNews, the students emailed the dean of the law school, describing the messages as containing “racist taunts about affirmative action and intelligence” and “body-shaming.” 

The email’s and text messages contained “other personal insults.” The emails and text messages were sent from an anonymous source to black and woman students during their first-year between December 2018 and March 2019. 

BuzzFeed News reports that of the 80 students in the section, nine are black and 21 are “other minorities.” The first student that began receiving threatening text messages was one of the black students, Mo Light. The message Light received came from “impeachmo@gmail.com” and the sender stated that the student didn’t “belong here.” 

“You’re just here because of affirmative action, why even try?,” the sender wrote. “Everyone at [Harvard Law School] thinks you’re a joke, but I guess your section is lucky to have a curve boost.” 

(Photo credit: Mo Light, via BuzzFeed News) 

Immediately, Light took action and told a faculty member about the email he had received. He also tells BuzzFeed that he filed a police report with the Harvard University Police Department. 

“My initial reaction, ‘Wow, this is upsetting,’ but it’s not surprising, given that this is just living while black,'” Light told BuzzFeed News. Despite reaching out to faculty and the university police department, the messages would continue and now to other students of their class. 

Chris Volcy, one of the students who was also targeted, told BuzzFeed News the messages made her feel unsafe and uncomfortable going to class. “It was all we could think about… all we could talk about, all we were focusing on, instead of our schoolwork,” said Volcy. 

Another student, Chelsea Rooney, told the publication that the messages deeply disturbed her and she decided to report them to the administration. “In the era of school shootings, in this era of white supremacy, really and the violence and anger that goes along with that, I think it was our duty as students to bring this forward.”

(Photo credit: Chris Volcy via BuzzFeed News) 

“It would have been really irresponsible for us to receive these messages, know that someone is exhibiting really bizarre behavior, and not say anything,” the student said. 

The black students who were targeted said they felt the attacks were racist while the other two women students believed they were targeted due to other personal issues with the supposed sender. They also told BuzzFeed News that they had an idea of who the suspected sender was. 

Ultimately, the students believe the reports were ignored and their concerns weren’t addressed. 

Now, they’re accusing Harvard Law of not doing enough to support them.

In a statement from Harvard Law School to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for the school said that none of the messages the students received “threaten[ed] any type of violence.” The spokesperson also said they couldn’t “publicly disclose” the details of the investigation in order to “protect the respective rights of all parties.” 

However, we can’t help but wonder, where was this “respect” when the worried students reached out to school administration addressing their concerns?

The other students who received abusive, sexist and racist text messages were told to “no one likes you gtfo.” Chelsea Rooney was also called a “horse face from Texas” by the anonymous sender. Another woman student, who asked to remain anonymous, was called a “fat overweight pig.”

One would think that given the political climate in the country, Harvard Law School would act appropriately and try harder to find the culprit. Given the institutions elite status, one would also think that after the 2019 college admissions bribery scandal, universities and colleges across the country would think twice before letting something like this escalate.

Twitter users also rallied behind the students who are accusing another student of targetting them with racist and sexist emails and text messages.

One woman said Harvard Law school must “identify and excise” the person that’s responsible for harassing the students. 

Another Twitter user called Harvard Law School a “scam” and “shameful.”

“They do not support or protect their students of color or their women students,” the Twitter user said.

A Harvard Law School student also chimed in and said that when “elite institutions permit racist and sexist abuse their students” and don’t do anything about it, it speaks volumes.

“It endorses the racists’ message: You don’t belong here,” he writes. 

The law student also urged other Twitter users to sign the students’ petition to Harvard Law School, demanding a serious response to this racism and sexism.

“The school’s response was disheartening, but your action and emails helped us get our first response from the school.  We cannot thank you enough,” Chris Volcy, Chelsea Rooney, and Mo Light write in the petition. “But trust us when we say that there is evidence to make a determination on the identity of the sender, and we want to see why the school decided to let us attend classes with an individual capable of sending the attached messages from anonymous emails and unknown phone numbers. If you think that the school should at least release the investigation report to the members of Section 7 so that we can understand their decision, please sign this petition.” 

A Black Transgender Woman Was Killed On The Last Day Of Pride

Things That Matter

A Black Transgender Woman Was Killed On The Last Day Of Pride

@astoldbymelly/ Twitter

We’re now almost halfway through 2020 and the statistics tallying the number of murders that have occurred this year in the trans community are alarming. Sadly when it came to the sacred month of Pride the trans community did not receive a break in these numbers, unfortunately.

A community in Dallas, Texas is currently coming to terms with the death of 22-year-old Merci Mack a Black transg woman whose body was discovered in Dallas on the final day of Pride.

Mack, whose body was discovered in a parking lot, is at least the 18th trans person to be killed in 2020.

According to reports, Mack’s body was discovered at 6:15 a.m and had sustained gunshot wounds. She was found in a parking lot of the Rosemont Apartments located in South Dallas. After her body was discovered, residents at the apartment claimed to police that they heard shots fired an hour beforehand. According to the Dallas Police Department, they never received a 911 about the incident. By the time an emergency response team came to the scene, Mack was dead.

Despite being an openly trans woman, reports by law enforcement and the local media deadnamed her.

The lack of support in using the deadnames of trans people has earned the ire of The Associated Press Stylebook  GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). AP urges reporters to use “use the name by which a transgender person now lives” and HRC has published trans reporting guidelines for police and members of the media. In a statement to BuzzFeed News, a spokesperson for the department has said that their “hearts go out to the grieving family who are trying to cope with the loss of their love one… Our detectives, as with all murders, are working diligently to find the perpetrator to this horrible crime.”

In response to Mack’s tragic death, LGBTQ+ groups have released statements honoring her life and legacy.

“Another Black transgender woman has had her life stolen from her,” Tori Cooper, a director of community engagement for HRC’s Transgender Justice Initiative stated an interview. “We cannot become numb to the fact that our community has learned of more killings of transgender and gender non-conforming people in the past few weeks than HRC has ever tracked in the past seven years.”

Mack is at least the 11th trans person to die since 2017 in Texas because of violence. Almost all of them have been Black women. Most recently, in May of this year, Helle Jae O’Regan was stabbed to death while at a barbershop in San Antonio.

A Group Of Women Who Sued Harvey Weinstein For Misconduct Have Reached A Nearly $19 Million Settlement

Entertainment

A Group Of Women Who Sued Harvey Weinstein For Misconduct Have Reached A Nearly $19 Million Settlement

Spencer Platt / Getty

Disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein might be in prison but his legal woes continue.

The former film producer and convicted sex offender who founded the entertainment company Miramax and was toppled by allegations of sexual assault amid the early days of the #MeToo movement is still paying big time for his depraved acts of sexual assault and harassment. This week, Weinstein was successfully sued for sexual misconduct by a group of women and reached a nearly $19 million tentative settlement.

Late Tuesday evening, New York Attorney General Leticia James announced that the settlement, which is part of a class-action lawsuit against, meant the women would also be released from confidentiality and NDA agreements.

Speaking about the suit which was filed two years ago, Caitlin Dulaney one of the plaintiffs involved described the lead up to the decision as a “long and grueling battle.”

“Harvey avoided accountability for decades, and it was a powerful moment for us to band together and demand justice,” she said in a statement. “Knowing that we will help so many women who are long overdue for relief gives me hope that this settlement will continue to empower others to speak.”

If the lawsuit is approved by bankruptcy and US district courts, the settlement will give Weinstein victims between $7,500 and $750,000 each.

The suit also accuses Harvey Weinstein’s brother Robert Weinstein who co-founded the entertainment company Miramax with him as well as and other administrators of the Weinstein company of failing to prevent predatory sexual misconduct.

According to reports, the suit says Weinstein “created a hostile work environment by repeatedly and persistently sexually harassing female employees, including frequently remarking on female employees’ physical appearances, berating female employees, and requiring female employees to perform work while he was naked or only partially dressed.”

The suit also says Weinstein made employees help him with his erectile dysfunction injection. On top of this, women employees were also often forced to engage in sex to continue working for him or advance their careers. Some were even made to clean up for him after he had sex.

In 2017, The New York Times reported the first allegations of misconduct against Weinstein which ultimately helped spark the #MeToo movement. As a result, dozens upon dozens of women came forward to accuse Weinstein of rape and harassment.

The announcement comes three months after Weinstein was sentenced to 23 years in prison for raping Jessica Mann.

He was also charged with engaging in a criminal sexual act against Mimi Haley. Currently, he is being held in prison at the Wende Correctional Facility in Buffalo, New York.

Still, not everyone involved thinks the settlement is enough. Attorneys for six other women who have sued Weinstein for misconduct have called it a “complete sellout.” They also underlined that the settlement does not hold Weinstein accountable.

Speaking about the decision, Douglas Wigdor and Kevin Mintzer, two lawyers in a case against Weinstein said in a statement that they “are surprised that the Attorney General could somehow boast about a proposal that fails on so many different levels. While we do not begrudge any survivor who truly wants to participate in this deal, as we understand the proposed agreement, it is deeply unfair for many reasons. We are completely astounded that the Attorney General is taking a victory lap for this unfair and inequitable proposal, and on behalf of our clients, we will be vigorously objecting in court.”