People were complaining that Yale University’s John Calhoun College was named after a slave owner, so they changed it to “Grace Hopper College,” in honor of the female computer scientist and rear admiral — but some people are still upset, because Grace Hopper was white.
“We are skeptical of the administration’s intentions in renaming the college after a white woman, regardless of Grace Hopper’s GRD ’34 accomplishments as a woman in STEM and in the military,” Yale Women’s Center officials Nicole Chavez and Rita Wang co-wrote in a piece for thecYale Daily News.
Yep, that’s right: Rear Admiral Grace Hopper may have made significant contributions to male-dominated fields like computer science and the military, and she may have earned her Ph.D. in mathematics at Yale during a time when it was very rare for a woman to do so, but . . . she was also white, which apparently means she does not deserve this honor.
Why? Because it’s like, kind of racist, duh.
“We recognize that white femininity has often been used as a tool to enforce racist and colonialist structures,” the piece continues. “As such, we hope to explain how this decision constitutes ‘whitewashing’ to the wider Yale community.”
No doubt, what Yale was trying to do was honor not just a woman but specifically a woman with achievements in science and math. Feminists commonly complain that our society doesn’t do enough to encourage women to pursue careers in STEM, and so Yale’s decision to honor a woman for her historical success in this area would seem like something that would please Women’s Center officials like Chavez and Wang.
But nope. No, instead Chavez and Wang accused Yale of making “an attempt to corrode and erase the long history of activism by students of color — particularly black women — on this campus” by giving “no recognition of the countless hours black students and students of color have put into the fight against the honoring of a white supremacist in their home.”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that something like this has happened. Last year, Southwestern University in Texas canceled its production of The Vagina Monologues because a white lady wrote it, and students at Scripps College got upset about Madeleine Albright’s being chosen as their commencement speaker because she’s a “white feminist.”
This story was previously reported on in an article on Heat Street.