Orange County, to Blue County

Last week, almost a full week and a half after election night, the final results of the congressional races in District 45 and 39 were finally called, and Katie Porter and Gil Cisneros of the Democratic Party won their seats. These two wins came as a surprise, as on election night, both candidates were trailing by a significant percentage. However, mail-in ballots came in and changed the results. The Republican stronghold in Orange County flipped to Blue, as did a district in Northern California (CA-10) and one in San Diego (CA-49). Overall, surprisingly, the blue wave overtook California.

As someone who canvassed and phone-banked for Katie Hill on several occasions (CA-25), met Josh Harder a couple of years ago when he was starting out his congressional campaign, and met and phone-banked for Gil Cisneros, these races felt especially close to my heart. For the first time, I felt like I could have an impact on the outcome of the race, and I felt engaged and enthusiastic about the possibility of change. I attended one of the first election events of the season, when Obama visited Anaheim in September, and it was inspiring to see the energy in California, somewhere that politicians often look over and ignore (unless it is for money of course!).

I grew up in California and I now attend university in California, and it has always felt like my political voice didn’t matter that much. On one hand, I felt blessed to live in a place that reflected my political values, but on the other hand, I didn’t feel like I could make as much impact nationwide. For the first time this election cycle, California was in the news, having significant races and people were paying attention politically.

There was a measure on the ballot that would split California up into three parts. Although it was primarily for taxation purposes, and to be able to tax Silicon Valley much higher than the other parts, it brought up an interesting question about politically, how that would change the climate. Would people pay more attention to California? Would our votes actually matter?

Dana Goodyear, in her article in the Atlantic wrote, “What has changed in Orange County, along with demographics, is the way those in the region view the President. It was clear when Clinton became the first Democrat to win the county since F.D.R. that Trump was causing legacy Republicans to question their party allegiances. The turbulent and divisive past two years have only cemented the impression.” The truth of the matter is, even though these districts flipped, and California is now more blue than ever, Democrats must stop taking California for granted.

There are different types of Californians– there are the rich Silicon Valley-ers, and the rich Hollywood-ers who will always be paid attention to, because they have the money. Then there are the huge pockets of middle-class immigrants, especially Asian immigrants, who tend to vote economically conservative, and could easily be persuaded to vote Republican, had it not been a Trump-era election. There are the rural Californians in the Central Valley and Northern California, who can be more culturally conservative, and could also be persuaded (or already do) vote Republican.

Californians, both liberal and conservative, do not feel as though their voice is ever heard. In the Senate, a person from North Dakota with a population of 755,393 has the same say as a person from California, 39.54 million. And conservatives feel that their voices aren’t heard, because their votes go almost unnoticed, when down-ballot Democrats are not uncommon in state offices, and a supermajority in the state legislature has been solidified.

There is no easy solution– but it is very clear that California is a very unique case when it comes to electoral politics, and as the demographics and the impact on our nation continues to evolve, so should its role in national politics.

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Lean In- All a Farce?

The Atlantic posted an article about Sheryl Sandberg’s decline as a feminist icon, since Facebook has come under scrutiny about their ongoings with Cambridge Analytica, Russian interference in elections, etc. When she wrote her book, Lean In, she became a feminist icon of sorts– teaching women how to balance a successful career, family life and stand up to those who stood in her way.

Since then, her reputation slowly declined– more and more people using Lean In ironically, criticizing her for being a white feminist as well as failing to recognize the economic privilege that she came from.

Author Olga Khazan argues that Sandberg never went against what she preached– she just utilized her skills for an end that most of us would disagree with.

“Executive women are expected to be nice, but Sandberg never claimed she was. The point of Sandberg-style feminism is to be more powerful, and that, for better or worse, is what she is. This whole time, Sandberg was doing what was best for her company, protecting it at all costs. She was leaning in. We just couldn’t fathom what that might mean for the rest of us,” Khazan writes.

It brings up an interesting question about what feminism really is and what it has evolved into. Is feminism the best for all women, taking into account race, economic class, ability etc., or is it the ability for individual to consolidate as much power as white, privilege males have been able to, since the beginning of time.

Sheryl Sandberg profited off of the feminism movement, without truly fulfilling all the tenets of being a true feminist. We don’t want wealthy white women to just replace, or join wealthy white men in the power structures. We deserve more and we deserve to fight for more. Her public decline is necessary and deserved and her faux feminism should have no place in this movement.

Earlier this year, the California legislature introduced a bill that required a quota of women on the boards of companies. I struggled greatly with whether or not I supported this legislation– on one hand, who wants to be the person who’s unhappy with the fact that more women would be on the board of companies? But on the other hand, it fails to solve the inherent problems in the feminism movement that ignore the other identity aspects that dictate the lives of poor women and women of color. Likely, the women appointed to the boards would be white women who were already in high positions in the company.

There are conversations and debates about how to approach the movement– whether step-by-step methods like the quotas are the way to go, or whether it should be more overhaul changes that uproot entire systems. I say step-by-step methods are fine, as long as they don’t use poor women and women of color as the stepping stones to get there, which it seems like is being done right now.

 

Voting Mechanisms Must Change

This week, the GOP won two of the most competitive and watched governors races in the country, in Florida and Georgia, amidst widespread claims of voter suppression. Stacey Abrams, Democratic candidate for Georgia governor, won the case against Brian Kemp, loosening “exact match rules” that prevented a portion of the population from voting. Yet, come election day, both of these candidates lost. When voter ID laws unfairly target minority and low-income voters, it is very clear which party this is benefitting. And yet, when the election results came out on Tuesday, the public was expected to accept the victory of Brian Kemp. Even though we know there were active efforts to disenfranchise the population, we are expected to have faith in the democratic process. But in order to truly be able to call ourselves a democratic society, we must implement national oversight policies, reform voter ID laws with a national standard and reform absentee ballot measures.

Voting is a fundamental right, not a privilege, and we must treat it as such. The 26th Amendment itself says, “The right of citizens of the United States, who are 18 years of age or older, to vote, shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any state on account of age.” The 15th Amendment says, “Right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Then how can we continue to ignore the fact that politicians and lawmakers are denying people the right to vote on arbitrary measures, for their own political gain?  

Tate Delgado, 19, a student at the University of Southern California hails from Peachtree Corners, Georgia. As a public policy major and from a state housing one of the most watched races in the country, not voting wasn’t even an option– it never has been and it certainly wasn’t now. He mailed in his application for a absentee ballot well in advance, already anticipating problems. Instead of mailing a ballot to his California address, like requested, they sent a letter to his home in Georgia, saying that voting is a “privilege” and they “must deny” his request for a ballot, because his signature didn’t match the one on file.

“A large majority of the people who were rejected are African American, who are a minority, so unless black people just forgot how to write their name I’m calling out that excuse,” Delgado said. “Not that it matters anyways, voting is a right not dependent on how one writes their name.”

Delgado’s rejected ballot did not include a provisional ballot like a judge ruled that it is supposed to. Delgado has now been actively prevented from voting in this election.

And Delgado is far from the only one who has faced immense barriers to casting his vote in his home state. Voters in West Tuscaloosa, Alabama, a predominantly African-American neighborhood, had difficulty obtaining their absentee ballots. Texas has long been in the news, over battles of who is allowed to remain on voter rolls. Voter ID laws have become more stringent for Native Americans in North Dakota, home to one of the toughest races in the country. And in Georgia itself, the Secretary of State, Brian Kemp has been engaging in very blatant voter suppression, in order to win the Governor’s race for himself. In addition to the fact that the Secretary of State is meant to oversee the process, when voter suppression benefits typically Democratic candidates, it should not be a surprise that the GOP candidates in Florida and Georgia reaped the benefits.

For this reason, it is absolutely necessary that the federal government institute a unified standard on absentee ballot measures as well as federal oversight on Voter ID laws. In some states, all it takes is a phone call to the Secretary of State’s office, while in others, a handwritten request must be filed. This must be reformed to one national standard, so that it can be clear to voters what exactly the mechanism to getting their ballot is. Furthermore, there needs to be a comprehensive online tracking system that is implemented by the federal government, so that people are able to accurately track whether or not their ballot is on the way. Too many times, people’s ballots get “lost in the mail,” such as in South Florida, without any way of holding the offices accountable for delivering them.

Additionally, voter ID laws should unilaterally be struck down. When the intent is so blatantly racist, and the impacts are also so unfairly utilized, there is no reason to maintain such harmful laws. It interferes with the ability for all citizens to be franchised. Beyond court cases simply striking down voter ID laws, there must be universal oversight to make sure that these laws are not enforced. The ACLU has dedicated active efforts in certain states to overseeing, but more dedicated efforts on a national level must be enforced.

We have a responsibility to make sure that all our citizens are able to participate in the democratic process. Until our voting systems are reformed and until our democratic process is not skewed towards privileged white people, we should not accept the results of elections with histories of minority oppression and disenfranchisement. Our current voting processes are interfering with the integrity of our democratic process and the values that our nation holds close to itself.

Midterm Frenzy

Few Senate races have had the name recognition, celebrity appeal and fundraising ability as Beto O’Rourke’s campaign in Texas. Electing a Democrat in Texas six months ago seemed like a laughable challenge, but has become one of the most energizing races in the country, not only fueling Democratic fires in Texas, but all around the nation. The Atlantic published an article about how Beto’s ability to tackle the NFL protest issue allowed his campaign to thrive and gain traction as the race has gone on.

Jemele Hill writes, “The energy of his campaign is not so much about O’Rourke himself, Foster soon learned, as about what he has tapped into—a deep desire among many voters for a politician willing to stand up for their beliefs, instead of apologizing for them.”

This is something that O’Rourke seems to have tapped into a great deal during this Senate race. His ability to be authentic, personable and tackle the issues that seem to matter to Texas voters and fundraisers has been key in his revolutionary presence in a once solidly Republican race.

To sum it up, he seems to represent everything that voters want to change about Washington.

Hill wrote, “‘I’m leery in general when it comes to politicians,’ said the former Houston Texans running back Arian Foster, who still resides in Houston and who has now twice appeared with O’Rourke on the campaign trail. ‘I’m not saying it’s his intent, but he had to know saying that was going to be controversial in Texas. The climate we’re in, in general, is that if you take a side on that issue, one side is going to vehemently agree with you and one side will vehemently disagree with you.’”

Ordinary voters seem to have connected with his ability to make the issues about more than just politics– make them personal to people. In a climate that seems more like a game to everyone outside Washington– about counting the votes, legislative strongholds, minority and majority whips and partisanship over all, Beto makes the issues seem like they affect him as much as they affect you. And that matters.

Democrats are aware that despite his energy and the name that has swept across the nation, there is a good chance that come election day, there will be disappointment. While we may be ready for that, his nature and fight represent the best part of politics and what we hope to see in the years coming through. We’ve seen people who never, ever in their lives voted Democrat going out and canvassing for him. We see previously disengaged youth places signs outside their houses and getting their friends registered to vote. We’ve seen this all across the country– not just in Texas, and I genuinely deeply hope that it will continue past the midterms and this immediate frenzy.

Until then, Beto, Jackie Rosen, Katie Hill, Harley Rouda, Sinema and so many more. I’m rooting for you. I hope you represent a change in engagement, politics and hopefully, the partisan leaning of the House (and maybe Senate!).

 

Asian-American “Bias”

The New Yorker posted an article about the court case in which Asian-American students were suing Harvard for discrimination. In this case, students say that even though they had higher test scores and statistics than some of those admitted, and it is demonstrated anti-Asian bias. This case has come to represent the case that many people have tried to build up against affirmative action, arguing that we do not need systems like this in place anymore and that admission should be solely by merit.

As an Asian-American student who quite recently went through the college process, I was acutely aware of the “disadvantage” that I was at. Indian-Americans, and Asian-Americans as a whole tend to have higher scores on standardized testing and have higher grades, and I knew that I would be grouped into “a category” that tended to be more competitive. At a hyper-competitive high school, I saw my classmates try and downplay their Asian heritage as much as possible. Some of them put down an ethnicity that they truly did not identify with, but genetically had some family history in, in order to increase their chances. I just did not see my white classmates reacting in the same way. The understanding was that it helped you to be “an underrepresented minority,” it was no net gain or loss if you were white, but  it hurt you to be Asian. Yet, here I am supporting affirmative action. And yet, here I am vehemently opposing this court case.

The article states, “But to understand the stakes of the case, it is important not to conflate two separate concepts: the legal issue of affirmative action and the factual issue of whether Harvard discriminated against one particular racial group. The case against Harvard will be strongest if the allegations about how Asian applicants were evaluated relative to white ones turn out to be true.”

I believe that this court case, even though it was brought by Asian-Americans, is in reality being used by the right to perpetuate existing power structures. Utilizing Asian-Americans as a political tool to get rid of affirmative action is manipulative, when affirmative action isn’t even what is being fought against right now. The Trump administration is notoriously anti-affirmative action. Additionally, Asian-Americans have been used as the “model minority” to perpetuate racial myths for a very long time. By citing the success of a select part of the Asian immigrants in the U.S., white conservatives are able to institute racist policies against other minorities, who do not traditionally fit the “success stories” that a portion of Asian-Americans do. Immigration policies, often discriminatory ones, are based on the model minority myth.

Merit-based admission policies are good in theory, but fail to take into account the institutional racism that certain minority groups face or do not face. Asian-Americans simply do not face the same sort of institutional racism that African-American and Latino students face, when coming up through the education system, just as white students do not face the same sort of institutional racism that Asian-American students do. Therefore, to pit minorities against each other, and to frame this as an issue of affirmative action is harmful to the dismantling of systemic racism in the education system.

To talk about this as anti-Asian bias is one thing, if Asian-Americans are routinely ranked lower on personal traits, but unfortunately this court case has taken a more potentially harmful and political turn, that is not being considered seriously enough.

To Keep or Not to Keep: How to Preserve Troubled History

For centuries, present generations have had a complicated relationship with history. The United States has a history of success, progress and development, but the achievements of the nation are colored by a past of troubled mistakes– colonization, slavery, economic suppression, rampant sexism and many, many more. The impacts remain extraordinarily prevalent in our daily lives today. We have an obligation to take responsibility for the atrocities, and to utilize history most effectively in order to educate our future generations to prevent them from making the same mistakes. However, people have long disagreed on how to celebrate the achievements of our nation while recognizing and apologizing for the mistakes of the past. In order to effectively learn from the mistakes of our predecessors, we must critically examine our history, remove celebrations of figures who no longer align with our values as a country and retell our history in a way that highlights both the achievements as well as the grave mistakes that our previous leaders made.

One example of the heated debate on the present’s relationship with history is the issue of the naming of buildings on college campuses. As can be expected, institutions of higher education have histories of discrimination, perpetuating existing power structures and questionable moral decisions. It can also be expected, those who were in power at universities had very different political and ethical views than higher education institutes are expected to have now. Yet, celebrations of their reigns remain widespread on campuses– academic buildings, dining halls, residence halls, all adorning their names.

On the University of Southern California’s campus, one of the landmark buildings on campus is a red brick building, centered around a tower with a globe on top, that can be seen from miles off campus. This building is named after Rufus B. Von KleinSmid, and students fondly refer to the building as VKC. Most students who take classes every single day in this building do not know the history of Mr. Von KleinSmid, a known and prominent eugenicist. He was a former USC President, and according to Professor George Sanchez, who created a timeline of racism at USC, “In 1945, he refused to send transcripts to colleges enrolling Japanese-American citizens who were released from internment camps. Not only did he work to prevent these students from getting an education, but he also sent them to the camps in 1942, according to the same source.” He was one of the founders of a eugenics society called the Human Betterment Society, and allegedly held up an informal quota system that allowed one Jew to enroll at USC per year.

Since then, students have rallied behind the cause of changing the name of the building, arguing that the celebration of such a figure is not reflective of the values of the university. Undergraduate Student Government senators brought a proposal to the administration, and they circulated a petition amongst students to build their case. So far, the proposal has not been taken seriously by the administration and there are no plans in place to change the building name.

Opponents not only say that there are bigger battles to fight, but also that we must celebrate the achievements of those who built these communities, regardless of whatever ethical differences they may have had. Opponents also say that we must take their historical context into consideration when criticizing their political and ethical views.

However, having buildings named on campus for these figures, without any historical context, celebrates not just their achievements, but also all the harmful acts that they committed during their lives and their presidencies. When it is very clear that Von KleinSmid would not have wanted a majority of the students who now attend the university, it is tone deaf and harmful to continually celebrate the man. To remember the achievements of Von KleinSmid while recognizing the harm that he inflicted onto minorities would be one thing. However, allowing students to walk in and out of the building every day, mentioning his name in passing, without any insight into the truly troubling history of a USC president, can leave a lasting impact on students of color who already can feel like their presence is not welcome on a higher-education institution.

Regardless of whether Von KleinSmid held these views at a time where they were more acceptable or not, the values of a university must be reflected in the people it reveres and the image that it puts forth. Since the times of Von KleinSmid’s presidency, USC’s values have changed, and regardless of his contribution to the university, the correct vision for the future must be displayed. Most people would agree that celebrating a eugenicist is not what USC’s vision for the future should be. To place a statue of Von KleinSmid in a museum, with information about both his time at USC, but also proper context about the extremely harmful views he held, would allow a more complete picture to be painted.

A similar controversy arises when considering whether or not to take down Confederate statues. Especially in the South, monuments and civil war memorials celebrating the Confederation and its heroes are as incredibly common. Robert E. Lee and his counterparts are widely praised, and seen as his heroes and champions for the Southern identity. In 2017, one of the biggest white supremacist and alt-right rallies was held in Charlottesville, to protest the removal of a confederate statue.

The narrative of the civil war is often portrayed as a fight over broader issues, when it is widely decreed by historians that it can be tied directly to one issue: slavery. Stephen Sawchuk, in Education Weekly, wrote, “Some of those [omissions in classrooms] have roots in the continued prevalence of “Lost Cause” thinking. The term refers to a discourse that views the Civil War as a fight over states’ rights or culture, omitting what nearly all historians agree was the prime cause of the war: slavery. Most of the Confederate monuments now under debate were erected between 1880 and 1940 as Lost Cause mythology flourished, and as Jim Crow laws undid the Reconstruction’s promise of a racially integrated America.”

To claim that removing monuments is erasure of history, when a holistic and comprehensive history of the civil war is already not being taught, is deeply ironic. To claim that Robert E. Lee and the other confederate heroes were primarily fighting for other causes and not to maintain their right to own slaves is not a different view of history, but simply a falsehood. And this falsehood has deeply ingrained effects on African-Americans today.

When the effects of disenfranchisement, economic inequality and social stratification during the Jim Crow Era, can still be seen, these monuments are a slap in the face to African-Americans. An article in the Jacksonville Free Press, drew direct comparisons between the Jim Crow laws and the mass incarceration of African-Americans today. Mgbolu wrote, “Americans with criminal records face with the daily fear of being stopped and frisked by officers, the anxiety that the prison door can reopen repeatedly – not for committing a crime, but for simply missing an appointment with a parole officer or failing to pay a court fee. While Jim Crow deliberately disenfranchised blacks through literacy tests, today we openly deny exfelons the right to participate in the democratic process. Voting rights have yet to be formerly restored for all second-class citizens in America.”

Additionally, an article in the Huffington Post, that regardless of their enforceability, many Jim Crow laws are still in state legislature, and have not been removed. Hutchinson writes, “Alabama, and nearly ten other states keep Jim Crow laws on their books. Not all the states are in the South, and despite public embarrassment, and repeated demands to cleanse the books of them, state legislators, and even voters have resisted taking any action. While the laws are unenforceable, they aren’t laughable, antique relics of a long buried racial past. They insult and degrade, and have had and still have a corrosive effect on law and public policy. In Georgia teachers that taught at once segregated private schools are eligible to collect state pensions, and as far as we know many of them are.” These laws include everything from school officials being allowed to close integrated, limiting the number of African-American officials at schools and statutes that establish “Negro schools.”

To deem racism as a thing of the past is laughable. When there are statues and flags celebrating the very people that institutionalized racism and put in places the laws that continue to create insurmountable challenges for African-Americans, we must examine what kind of country we want to be moving towards.

One argument against removing Confederate statues is that it is part of Southern identity and pride. Tasha Pilpot, who wrote a book, Conservative but Not Republican, about African-American party identification, argues that “Southern identity” was undeniably centered around slavery. She wrote in Vox, “It was under the guise of ‘states’ rights’ that the South sought to preserve institutionalized segregation post-slavery and throughout the civil rights movement. Federally enforced desegregation became such a sticking point in the South — which at the time was dominated by the Democratic Party — that it eventually led to the demise of the New Deal coalition.”

When a sense of pride is derived quite directly from marginalizing a minority group, it cannot and should not be deemed acceptable. As Steve Clowney said, in a letter to editor to the Wall Street Journal, “Monuments are never about recording a nuanced and objective version of the past. Rather, monuments are works of art erected by powerful people to communicate messages about who deserves honor. For years, Southern whites have used sculptures on public lands to insist that soldiers in the army, raised to defend the principle of white supremacy, deserve praise.”

This fight to keep confederate statues is fundamentally tied to maintaining power structures of white supremacy. The people that attended the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville and the messages they were conveying, were a perfect example of the racial tensions that cannot be separated from “Southern pride.” The shock that the country felt when people revealed their true political beliefs was an indication that the majority of the country did not feel the same. The profile and beliefs of the people who showed up to defend confederate statues should be an indication that these statues should in fact be taken down.

The other argument against removing these statues is that we must take into account their historical context when criticizing their beliefs. In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal, Tony Woodlief wrote, “Most people seem to need this debate to be more simple. Not only Ivy League professors and descendants of Confederate veterans, but also those who should know better. Maybe Americans’ deep-rooted Puritanism drives them to view every person as either glorified or damned. And so we spiral down this Stalinist path of history-flattening and monument-erasure, one side waving a battle flag that Robert E. Lee himself renounced, the other insisting that every man who wore gray was little different than Leonardo DiCaprio’s caricature in ‘Django Unchained.’ Americans long ago abandoned Lincoln’s admonition — malice toward none, charity for all — and in some important ways the U.S. is less united today than in 1866.”

This argument simply doesn’t explain why we shouldn’t hold our historical figures to high standards. If we are unable to criticize leading eugenicists and generals who fought an entire war to maintain their right to own slaves, then who are we able to criticize? Instead of trying to focus on these white males consistently in positions of powers who should be “excused” because of history, why not celebrate those who fought the fight to make these beliefs unacceptable in our society. Instead of spending time defending the actions of these people and discerning right from wrong, these monuments should celebrate the battles and achievements of women and minorities who have long been forgotten from history books, statues and celebration.

This is not to say that these statues should be removed, and forgotten. It is equally important that citizens learn about the harm that they cause, so they know not to repeat the same mistakes. Museums, classrooms, libraries with the proper historical context is the right place to showcase these historical artifacts– not in a public park with no information or recognition of the atrocities that these men caused.

It is commonly said that history is written by the winners, and it goes beyond just stories and history books. People in power have always decided who should be honored and who should be the hero. To keep these statues and other historical monuments and symbols, such as the confederate flag, because they have historical significance is suppression of historically oppressed voices. If we truly want to change the culture and values of our country, we must be amenable to recognizing our mistakes. Taking down these statues, renaming buildings and critically examining history is a recognition of mistakes, and a call to action for the future. By doing so, we make this country a more inclusive place for oppressed citizens.

These statues go far beyond political correctness and history. They signify existing hierarchies of power and the values that a country holds close and views as guiding principles for the future. They impact the stories that we tell and how we tell those stories. If critics think it is just about a physical monument or erasing history, they are gravely mistaken. This is an issue of collective identity, memory and reforming our country to progress in a positive direction.

 

Tradition isn’t an excuse.

This week, The Atlantic posted an article titled, “The Girls Who Live in an All-Boys World,” taking a deeper look at the misogynstic culture at elite prep schools, both co-ed and single-sex. This article comes within the context of the allegations of Supreme-Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, and his experience at Georgetown Prep, an elite private school in D.C.

Brendan Kiely, who attended one of these all-boys elite private schools himself, writes, “Misogyny is ubiquitous. It is deeply entrenched in these school communities, and yet many young men can’t see the water they’re swimming in for what it is. They seem to have no understanding of the harm this culture of misogyny causes. As one alumnus from St. Paul’s School quipped when he heard about the alleged incident with the ice-hockey players at Milton, “The question is: Did they win?”

These elite private schools are steeped in tradition, boasting a plethora of successful and wealthy alumnus, pipelines to the most selective colleges and generations and webs of useful connections for the future. But with this “tradition,” comes these deeply problematic habits. Even when girls are admitted into the schools, the underlying currents of the education still push the males in the class to more prominent positions than the women in the class. The situation worsens when the school is single-sex, in which misogyny is used as a tool to build a strong community of males– similar to fraternities or final clubs in college. When women are treated solely as sex objects, and not as people, that can become the entire foundation for a culture being created. Societal and economic privilege combined with toxic masculinity can be a potent combination– and could very well be what we see in Kavanaugh’s Georgetown Prep case.

As someone who went to a middle and high school that held a lot of similarities to schools like Georgetown Prep or St. Paul’s, I can understand the benefits of attending schools like this. But my school had one large difference– I attended an all-girls school. The rampant misogyny that Kiely talks about was replaced with feminist teachers, candid conversations about reproductive health and rights of marginalized women and deliberate efforts to build the confidence of young women ages 11-18.

My school has been around for over one-hundred years, and I’m sure there was a time when we had cooking class and homemaking classes, raising us to be educated, sure, but also a new generation of wives. But now, we have alumni who are on the Hill, engineers who are changing the technology industry, doctors working on cutting edge medical innovation, rockstars who are touring the country. Sorry, but tradition isn’t an excuse for appalling and misogynistic behavior.

What it comes down is accountability. For generations and generations, the kids from wealthy families who filtered in through these elite high schools, knew that because of their privilege, mistakes they made would undoubtedly be covered up. While first generation students, students of color and those on financial need were and are scared to jeopardize their educational opportunity in any way, these students knew that making mistakes would mean a call to the principal’s office and a light slap on the wrist, especially if their parents made a call. And those students end up in positions of power, whether it be as CEO’s, politicians, judges– where their “mistakes” have long been covered up.

We are in a culture shift (hopefully) that will push the breeders of this behavior to rethink their policies. This extends far past elite high schools— this extends to elite institutions like Yale, USC, Harvard etc., as well as corporations of all types, medical boards, entertainment industries. If we change the culture at the beginning, where privileged students are currently taught that they have an unlimited safety net and budget for silencing their mistakes, we can continue to unlearn that attitude to the rest of the people we place in power.