Just like the passage of Title IX in 1972 has been seen by many as the groundbreaker that led to things like the US Women's Soccer Team winning the 1999 World Cup, the affirmative action of Ivy League schools has given us many of the new power elite in this country today. And these folks are shaking up the status quo. Here are just a few examples.
Barack Obama - President of the United States and graduate of Columbia and Harvard Law School
Michelle Obama - First Lady of the United States and graduate of Princeton and Harvard Law School
Eric Holder - United States Attorney General and graduate of Columbia and Columbia Law School
Sonya Sotomayor - Nominee to the Supreme Court and graduate of Princeton and Yale Law School
Deval Patrick - Governor of Massachusetts and graduate of Harvard and Harvard Law School
Cory Booker - Mayor of Newark, NJ and graduate of Stanford (and Oxford) and Yale Law School
Van Jones - White House Special Advisor for Green Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and graduate of Yale Law School
These are just the few obvious ones that I found from the political arena.
We might react to all of this by decrying the hold that these elite institution have on the power base of this country. That would certainly be a worthy discussion. But Cooper, in her article, explains some interesting ways that this shift is impacting our politics.
But the children of 1969 dwell in a complex world. They retain an ethnic identity that includes its own complement of cultural, historical and psychological issues and considerations. This emerged at Judge Sotomayor’s confirmation hearings. And it emerged again last week, when Mr. Obama joked in the White House East Room that if he ran afoul of the police, “I’d get shot.” In saying this, he seemed to draw on the fears of black men across the United States, including those within the new power elite.
What Mr. Obama seemed to be demonstrating was what Mr. Lemann of Columbia calls a “double consciousness” that allows the children of 1969 to flow more easily between the world which their skin color bequeathed them and the world which their college degree opened up for them.<...>
On Friday Mr. Obama said he hoped Mr. Gates’s incident might become a “teachable moment.” It is a daunting task for the children of 1969: finding out whether the double consciousness they honed in the Ivy League can actually get this country to listen — and react — to race in a different way.
So what we've been seeing lately is the former white male power base in this country being infiltrated by people with a "double consciousness" and the resulting fireworks. I'd suggest that the journey we started by electing our first Black POTUS is just beginning and that the clash between these two worlds will only intensify.
But I also think we'd be remiss if we think this kind of clash is just going on in the political arena. I know that I see it happening in my own community between the emerging leaders (especially those who are people of color) and the older power base. Just this week I came across a fairly new blog called Home of the Urban Chameleon. In describing how the blog came to be, here's how they describe that double consciousness.
We are the approaching 30ty sumptin', urban professionals of color born into the hip hop generation and raised by parents who were in search of a better life having migrated from the Caribbean, South America and Africa or those born here who lived to see Jim Crow Laws become the Civil Rights Movement— They shared an ambition of carving out their road towards the Great American Dream.<...>
So, who did we end up becoming?
Today we are the cross-sector, world traveling, social switching consumers that can be found pumping down Fifth Ave in our Louboutin’s with a Bergdorf shopping bag trying to catch transportation back to the ‘hood for those two dollar codfish fritters before going to see the Dominicans to get our hair done.
We are the over achiever who works through the night prepping PowerPoint presentations to an iPod shuffle playlist of Lil’ Weezy, Jay Z and Buju Banton – and then maybe flip it to Jamiroquai and then brings it down with some Yo-Yo Ma.<...>
But that’s okay, we’re accustomed to the confused looks, inquisitive stares and the ignorant questions from those who can’t seem to figure us out— Not quite Cosby kids and not quite Bebe’s kids. We inherited our family’s hustle mentality with a cosmopolitan twist where we go from skiing in the Alps of Switzerland to being upside down gyrating on a float at a West Indian Day Parade.
It seems as though the "children of 1969" are coming into their own. I, for one, welcome them and look forward to the impact they are going to have on our culture, our country, and the world. And it could be that a "double consciousness" is just what we need right now so that we can finally envision our role in the world and rid ourselves of the sense of privilege and exceptionalism that has so often led us down a destructive path.
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