The Yale Law School administrator caught on tape pressuring a student to apologize for an allegedly racist party invitation pushed the Yale Law Journal to host a diversity trainer who told students that anti-Semitism is merely a form of anti-blackness and suggested that the FBI artificially inflates the number of anti-Semitic hate crimes.
The comments from diversity trainer Ericka Hart—a self-described "kinky" sex-ed teacher who works with children as young as nine—shocked members of the predominantly liberal law review, many of whom characterized the presentation as anti-Semitic, according to a memo from Yale Law Journal editors obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.
"I consider myself very liberal," a student quoted in the memo said. But Hart's presentation, delivered Sept. 17 to members of the prestigious law review, was "almost like a conservative parody of what antiracism trainings are like."
The controversy began when a law journal editor asked Hart why her presentation had addressed inequities like "pretty privilege" and "fatphobia" but not anti-Semitism. According to the memo, which collected feedback on the training from 33 law journal editors, Hart responded that she'd already covered anti-Semitism by discussing anti-blackness, because some Jews are black. She also raised questions about FBI data showing that Jews are the most frequent targets of hate crimes—implying, in the words of one journal editor, that the people compiling those statistics had an "agenda."
"She basically said anti-Semitism is a subset of anti-blackness," the editor told the Free Beacon. "She didn't recognize there could be anti-Semitism against white people." That characterization is corroborated by two students quoted in the memo, and by a third who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
Reactions to the training were almost uniformly negative, with 82 percent of editors saying they would not invite Hart back even if she incorporated their feedback. Over a third expressed distress at her treatment of anti-Semitism—"shocking," "offensive," and "upsetting" is how three separate editors described it—while several more mocked her account of "white supremacy culture," which one editor called "goalpost-moving, unfalsifiable nonsense."
On a scale of 1-10, the most common score for the training was a "1."
The training was held the same day that Yaseen Eldik, the law school's diversity director, told second-year law student Trent Colbert that his refusal to apologize for a party invite could cause him trouble on the bar exam. The journal had solicited suggestions for a diversity trainer months earlier, according to the memo, and Eldik recommended Hart as an "impactful and informative" choice. The memo noted that Hart had already "led workshops for YLS Class of 2024's 1L Orientation, the Afro-American Cultural Center at Yale, the Yale Good Life Center, and the Yale School of Nursing."
Hart did not respond to a request for comment. When the Free Beacon asked Eldik for comment, Debra Kroszner, the law school's managing director of public affairs, replied instead, saying the law school hadn't "received any complaints about anti-Semitic comments, nor were these anonymous concerns shared with us." Any complaints would have been lodged with Eldik, who serves as a "discrimination and harassment coordinator" for the law school.
In an email disseminating the memo to all journal editors, the board of the law review said it "condemns anti-Semitism and all forms of implicit and explicit prejudice."
Hart is not the only diversity professional with a blind spot around anti-Semitism. In 2007, Google's head of diversity strategy said Jews have an "insatiable appetite for war" and an "insensitivity to the suffering [of] others." More recently, two mental health counselors at Stanford filed a civil rights complaint against their department's diversity committee, saying it had "endorsed the narrative that Jews are connected to white supremacy" and "advanc[ed] anti-Semitic tropes concerning Jewish power."
The memo—which was written by the journal's "Diversity & Membership Editor"—suggests that such tropes have made their way to the top law review in the country.
So have many of the other tropes associated with pop "antiracism." In her September presentation, Hart listed "perfectionism," "objectivity," "a sense of urgency," and "the written word" as examples of "white supremacy culture." Dismantling that culture, she said, required abolishing prisons, opposing capitalism, and imprisoning former president Donald Trump.
At least five different editors slammed the suggestion that things like "punctuality" and "objectivity" constitute white supremacy, with one going so far as to accuse Hart of racism. "How is it not infantilizing for her to stand up there and say such traits are inherently white," the editor asked. "This sort of neoracism is not something we should be promulgating at the journal."
The reactions highlight the gap between student activism and student opinion at the Ivy League law school, which has seen several race-related controversies over the course of the year. In February, for example, a raft of racial affinity groups alleged the Yale Law Journal was systematically excluding minority students from its masthead, despite admissions data showing otherwise. The law review nonetheless agreed to host a series of "antiracist" trainings—including Hart's—to address the allegation.
Many of those same affinity groups subsequently denounced Colbert for his "racist" use of the term "trap house," which elicited nine "discrimination and harassment" complaints in 12 hours. In his meeting with Colbert, Eldik uncritically parroted the activists' complaints, including one from the president of the Black Law Students Association Marina Edwards, who accused Colbert of planning a blackface party.
Edwards's group sponsored Hart's "Anti-Racism Education Workshop" for first-year law students in August, the memo noted. Among the editors' many complaints about the journal training, one was that it was "literally the exact same training" Hart "gave last spring to the whole law school."
The survey results suggest that the vast majority of students oppose such sessions behind closed doors. What drives the programming is a small faction of activists and administrators who wield outsized power on campus, enforcing an ideology their peers privately regard as toxic.
The Yale Law Journal should "not accept at face value the recommendations of YLS's fringe advocacy groups," one editor said. "A good rule of thumb for whether to invite a speak[er]: If that presentation were leaked, how would it reflect on the journal and its reputation?"
Hart's training was adapted from a two-part "Racial and Social Justice" webinar priced at $72 per person and reviewed by the Free Beacon. Hart begins the webinar by stating that anyone who disagrees with her has likely "been conditioned" to "dismiss" black people. After listing her various privileges—including "cisgender passing," "pretty privilege," and "small fat privilege/thicc"—she declares that she is a "Poly adjacent" "survivor of white neighborhoods," and is "always aware of white supremacy" when she walks around New York City.
Hart and her partner, Ebony Donnley, go on to assert that slavery is intrinsic to capitalism; that there is a "genocide against black people"; that biology is a "racist pseudoscience created by white people to further their dominance"; that politeness and "perfectionism" are white supremacy; and that gender is a "tool of colonization" responsible for "multiple murders of black trans women." Hart also criticizes Robin DiAngelo and other white diversity professionals for "monetizing" black oppression, attributing their success to the fact that "black people are seldom believed."
For some students, the most offensive thing about Hart's training was its anti-intellectualism. "We are supposed to be the smartest law students in the world," an editor wrote. "Yet for two hours, we were forced to sit quietly and unquestioningly take on faith asinine arguments devoid of any evidence."
Another student called Hart's conflation of objectivity with white supremacy "really stupid and unreconcilable with YLJ's mission," adding that her training "was a complete waste of time."
Still, a few critics did find things to appreciate: Asked, "What did you enjoy about this training," four students pointed to the Grubhub voucher they'd received for attending.
Published under: Yale University