I’ve often come to the aid of the underdog. I have a long track record of siding with the disadvantage in an unfair fight. But I find it hard to muster any sympathy for poor Kyle Kashuv. Nope not a half-ounce of pity for this privileged kid, nada, zilch, notwithstanding the fact, Kashuv has 295,000 more twitter followers than I.
Kashuv received admission into Harvard College, a sure sign that he would find success at the highest level once he graduated, probably a future lawyer and conservative politician, stamped with the bona fides of Harvard.
Now, a Harvard undergrad and law degree are all gone. In the utterance of a single word multiple times, Kashuv’s hopes of a Harvard education dashed. Swept away because of core beliefs Kashuv held at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida less than a year before a gunman, Nikolas Cruz, shot up the school, killing 17 students and one teacher in the deadliest school shooting in the nation.
Harvard pulled the plug on Kashuv’s admission which was set to begin in the fall for the 2019–2020 academic school year, after internet postings surfaced, where he brazenly uses a word that racists and white supremacists resort to when talking about Americans of African descent whom they disdain.
Kashuv cried foul!
Like every racist known to history, Kashuv played the race card and called Harvard, of all things, racist for its mistreatment of Africans during the enslavement period of American history. A classic case of the pot hitting back at the kettle, which does not justify Kashuv’s use of this hurtful language when he was 16 years old.
The Marjorie Stoneman Douglas lad said, shouting “Nigger” on the internet should be excused because it is only a word. Well, youngster, words have meaning and consequences for their users. The use of that expletive, as you and your high school buddies well know, carries an attitude that demeans and dehumanizes Africans living in America with citizenship rights.
Your case reminds me of a situation during my time in high school back in the 1960s, (I wrote about it in my memoir Freaknik Lawyer: A Memoir on the Craft of Resistance, Cascade Publishing House, Atlanta, 2019).
That’s quite a long time ago; perhaps, your parents were not born in the 1960s. But let me tell you when I was in tenth grade, a white kid in the eleventh grade, filled with promise much like you, got with his buddies during spring break and painted these words on the wall of the military science building: “NIGGERS GO HOME, OR DIE.”
Those words 52 years later are still seared in my soul. They hurt then, and they hurt now.
You should realize the harm you have done to Black students at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School.
My high school wrapped up their investigation. The investigation identified three Kashuvistic students, as the culprits. School administrators told the Black students that there would be no punishment of the white students. Just what you would have Harvard do for you — but the ringleader had expressed an interest in becoming a lawyer, and when he applied to a professional school, the high school would notify them that he did not have the character to be a lawyer.
Six years later this kid enrolled in the law school at the University of Georgia, which is big stuff for a Georgian. Three years later, this kid who expressed strong racist tendencies when he was 17 years old was not only admitted to the Georgia Bar but obtained a job as an Assistant District Attorney in our home county.
Seemingly, he had gotten away with the hurtful racist antics from his high school days. However, some 20 years later, this prosecutor was up for a Superior Court judgeship. By this time, I was a practicing attorney, and I wrote to the Judicial Nomination Committee and told them of this lawyer’s racist high school past. Karma caught up with him. He was denied this judgeship, finally punished for his racist treatment of his Black high school classmates.
I have no sympathy for you, poor Kyle Kashuv. Cry your tears in private. You do not have an excusable defense.
One wonders if some vile thing you and your cohorts wrote is the reason Nikolas Cruz felt a compulsion to kill as many of your classmates as he could just a few months after your harrowing and insensitive post. There is a reason why these school shootings occur. I submit that many of the school massacres result from social media taunting and bullying like what you and your friends engaged in at Stoneman Douglas.
Your media campaign is not likely to gain you a change of heart from Harvard. You can forget about it and go your way attempting to be the changed person you now tell the world that you are. And while you adjust to this new reality that the world of privilege will not bend for youthful vile language, I hope you will give some thought to the role high school students play in school violence.
Since you believe that the issue of school violence is resolvable without gun control legislation, perhaps a public campaign to address civility among school students will help to stem the tide of these tragic events.
With your public profile, you may be able to influence young people to be kinder to students who are different from themselves. If you undertake this mission, you will undoubtedly save lives, and in four years, I for one will come to your defense and encourage Harvard to admit you into their law school or whatever professional school you desire.
Harold Michael Harvey is an American novelist and essayist. Harvey is a Past President of the Gate City Bar Association. He is the recipient of Gate City’s R. E. Thomas Civil Rights Award, which he received because of his pro bono representation of students arrested during Freaknik celebrations in the mid to late 1990s. He is a Contributor at The Hill, SCLC National Magazine, Southern Changes Magazine, Medium, and Black College Nines. Contact him at email@example.com.