Joe Biden has recently chosen Clarke to be head the U.S. Department of Justice Civil Rights Division. This has caused a lot of stir because in 1994 she allegedly penned a letter to the Harvard student newspaper (Harvard is her alma mater) that has been characterized as black supremacist.

Current news reports seem to focus solely on this letter, and I feel are not strongly sourced and don't explore Clarke's current beliefs. 25 years is a long time and people can change a lot - and that's assuming the letter was written by them and hasn't been misconstrued.

Did Clarke actually author this letter? And if so, has she ever commented on whether or not she still holds the views expressed in that letter, or have her views on racial equality changed?

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  • Could someone explain what part of this is opinion based? I'm not sure what I should edit or change. – gbeeduljqa Jan 15 at 1:37
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    Unless Clarke self-identified as a "Black Supremacist", whether or not she is one is a matter of personal opinion. Some of the sub-questions could actually be answered factually, but the decision if it is appropriate to apply the label "Black Supremacist" to her is in the end a decision the reader has to make for themselves. – Philipp Jan 15 at 8:44
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    I will ignore this inappropriate Hitler comparison because of Godwin's Law. To make this question more palatable, we should remove the term "Black Supremacist" completely and instead focus on objective facts. – Philipp Jan 15 at 9:04
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    This question is being discussed on meta. – Philipp Jan 15 at 9:25
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    "Has she done something racist" is a loaded question, because it's impossible to prove a negative. How about we focus it on that specific letter? I will attempt a rewrite and reopen the question. – Philipp 2 days ago

Clarke did co-author the letter in 1994, which is still available online.

The context is an opposition to the white supremacist book "The bell curve". In this context, Clarke also invited black supremacist and antisemite Tony Martin to speak about the topic.

In a later interview the same year, she said that "The information [contained in the letter] is not necessarily something we believe".

In an interview yesterday, January 13th 2021, she called the invitation of Martin a mistake, denounced his views, and described the letter as being "meant to express an equally absurd point of view" to caricaturize the racist views espoused in the bell curve:

“Giving someone like [antisemite Tony Martin] a platform, it’s not something I would do again,” Clarke said.

Asked if she denounces Martin and his views, Clarke said, “I do, 100%. I unequivocally denounce antisemitism.” [...]

“Fighting antisemitism, racism, white supremacy and all forms of bias are principles and values that have animated my career every step of the way,” she said.

According to Clarke, the letter was in response to views touted by the psychologist Richard Herrnstein and political scientist Charles Murray, in a book titled “The Bell Curve,” [...]. The book, she said, “was generating wide acclaim for its racist views” and her intention in opening the letter “with an absurd claim that Black people are superior based on the melanin in their skin” was to “hold up a mirror to reflect how reprehensible the premise of black inferiority was set.”

“It was meant to express an equally absurd point of view — fighting one ridiculous absurd racist theory with another ridiculous absurd theory,” Clarke explained, “and the goal was all about [exposing] the ugly racist underpinnings of the Bell Curve theory

I was unable to find any equally concerning events involving her after 1994 (though she did support Tamika Mallory in 2019 amidst accusations of antisemitism).

  • Thanks for the response, very interesting and great to see feedback at the time. It was interesting to read third link where the author discusses whether Clarke was trying to be ironic. And equally interesting to read the latest interview which contradicts the other articles in various ways, and while Clarke decries anti-Semitism there is no mention of their views on black supremacy. Clearly there is more to uncover on this issue. Thanks again for the added context and interviews, very interesting. – gbeeduljqa Jan 14 at 7:58
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    After closing and debating the question it was heavily edited. You might want to revise your answer. – Philipp 2 days ago
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    @Philipp Thanks, I've removed references to the previous question title and focused more on her recent response to the letter. – tim 2 days ago

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