Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) attempted to discredit Kristen Clarke on Wednesday at a hearing. Kristen Clarke, a top nominee to serve in the Biden administration’s Justice Department.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) cited not the idea that Clarke applies the prism of racism to too many things — but that she might actually think Black people are “genetically superior.”
The crux of Cornyn’s argument? Clarke had written a letter to Harvard’s student newspaper in 1994 with another student that ran through theories for why that could conceivably be the case. Among the arguments cited by Clarke: that Black children crawl and walk faster than other children, and that higher levels of melanin provide “greater mental, physical and spiritual abilities.”
“Maybe there’s a misprint. Maybe you can clear it up for me,” Cornyn said. “You seem to argue that African Americans were genetically superior to Caucasians. Is that correct?”
In fact, Clarke has explained this before — and actually did so as far back as the same day her letter was published. She said back then that these views were not her own and that she was being provocative.
Her letter was in response to controversy over “The Bell Curve,” a book exploring connections between race and IQ that has been labeled by many, both then and now, as being racist or at least feeding racist narratives. Black student groups at Harvard organized demonstrations, in which Clarke, as head of the Black Students Association, was heavily involved.
“What I was seeking to do was to hold up a mirror and put one racist theory alongside another to challenge people as to why we were unwilling to wholly reject the racist theory that defined the ‘Bell Curve’ book,” Clarke said.