The Legal Beat
Is Notre Dame’s New Dean Catholic — Ask Two Self-Made Inquisitors On Facebook
Posted on Friday January 11, 2019
Yesterday, Adam Serwer wrote a fantastic piece in The Atlantic. It was about people of color who enter into positions of leadership have their credentials constantly questioned and de-legitimized by whites. From Barack Obama to Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez, Serwer explains that white-led effort to depict non-white leaders as frauds or beneficiaries of lowered standards. It’s really good, and if you are generally unaware of how much bulls**t white people put the rest of us through, you should especially read it.
Today, I’m reminded that the same hurdles placed in front of our national non-white leaders are placed in front of people of color here in our neck of the woods of law firms and law schools. Notre Dame recently named Stanford professor G. Marcus Cole as its new dean. The appointment isn’t controversial. But Professor Cole happens to be black (well, half-black, half-Filipino, which is something I will return to), and so of course the knuckleheads came out to opine.
A tipster and Notre Dame alumnus sent in a Facebook conversation he got into about the new dean. The conversation might not seem racist to you, especially seeing as the foolish ones in the conversation were anointing themselves the religious police, not the ethnic police. But it was.
Here’s how it went on Facebook, from our tipster:
I’d explain why this is wrong but the tipster already did in response:
You’d think once would be enough, but another rose and volunteered to be dragged.
What these people are doing, whether they realize it or not, is engaging in the same process of de-legitimization that Serwer is talking about in his article. I’m sure that, when confronted, these guys will proclaim “I do not have a racist bone in my body” or whatever. But when faced with a person of color in power, their first instinct is to imagine his qualifications being less than what is normally demanded. Even when confronted with direct proof that Dean Cole’s qualifications are in line with past, white leaders, they still resist and insist that questioning whether the man really belongs at Notre Dame is a fair line of inquiry.
And remember, they’re doing this all based on their mere suspicion that Dean Cole is not Catholic. I did not email Dean Cole to ask him because… well I really don’t give a damn. But, if we’re doing this, it’s worth pointing out that Cole is part Filipino. The Philippines is a very Catholic country. Based only on the public information, my baseline assumption would be that Cole either is Catholic, was raised Catholic, or is at the very least familiar enough with Catholicism that he can pass whatever religious test these pissy inquisitors feel irrationally empowered enough to demand.
There are some white people who always want to set the bar for people of color a little higher. Sometimes it’s obvious, sometimes it’s conscious, but it’s always really annoying.
End stupid scene.
UPDATE 2: A few alumni are telling me that Cole is not of Filipino descent which, if so, wouldn’t have changed my assumption about his religion, to the extent that I cared, which I didn’t.
Stanford professor Marcus Cole appointed dean of Notre Dame Law School [University of Notre Dame Law School]