“we don’t care if they have a George Floyd scholarship, but they can’t discriminate on basis of race for eligibility”

2024-03-31 17:45:44

I had the pleasure of appearing this weekend on WABC 77 Radio in NYC, on the James Golden Show. You probably know him as Bo Snerdley from the Rush Limbaugh show (damn, we miss him).

I was on Snerdley’s show once before, hopefully he’ll have me back.

The topic was the Civil Rights Complaint by our Equal Protection Project (EqualProtect.org) over the Discriminatory George Floyd Scholarship at North Central University, which is open only to students who are “Black or African American, that is, a person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.” The complaint has received widespread media attention including in the NY Post, NBC News, USA Today, Fox News Digital, The Washington Examiner, The Daily Wire, The Washington Times, the College Fix, and beyond.

We shared some thoughts on the state of the civil rights movement.

Announcer (00:02):

The Saturday morning radio extravaganza is in your ears. Now here’s James Golden, AKA Bo Snerdly on 77 WABC.

[music]

Snerdley (00:18):

We’re halfway through the program, ladies and gentlemen. It is time for the morning dance. This is where we all get up and we welcome you to do the same unless you are driving, in which case stay seated. But if you’re not driving or doing something that would otherwise be compromised, if you stand good time to stand up, get a little rhythm, shake the hips, move the arms in other words, groove with us here on WABC Talk Radio 77 Spiri Gyra in the morning dance. And we love our morning dance with us on the telephones this week.

We are so pleased to have William A. Jacobson. He is a Cornell University law professor and founder of the Equal Protection Project. Professor, how are you this morning?

WAJ (01:29):

Good, how are you?

Snerdley (01:31):

Very well. Tell us about the Equal Protection Project Equal, what is it and why have you founded it?

WAJ (01:39):

The Equal Protection Project, which is equalprotect.org, is a nonprofit that I founded in order to fight against what I loosely call DEI racism. So racism done in the name of diversity, equity, and inclusion. Our operative motto is that there is no good form of racism and that the answer to racism is not more racism. And that’s what has developed on campuses throughout the country and increasingly corporations and government, is that people seem, some people seem to think that the answer for past discrimination or even current is more discrimination, to discriminate against whites or Asians or Hispanics or anybody else. And we are against any of that. We’re against discrimination against any person on the basis of race. And that’s why we founded it. And we bring legal challenges too, we’ve done over 20 so far to programs that on their face have discriminatory eligibility requirements.

Snerdley (02:38):

Okay. So by the way, how dare you, how dare you suggest that people should be, should be judged on the character, on the content of their character, whether other than some other superficial, uh, and that people should be based on merit, things should be based on merit. <laugh> I suppose you believe that in meritocracy, that people what they do actually should count instead of what they look like.

WAJ (03:04):

That’s right and …

Snerdley (03:05):

How dare you…

WAJ (03:06):

and that’s embodied in our 14th Amendment, equal protection of the laws, that’s embodied in our Civil Rights Act of 1964, in dozens of state civil rights acts. So we’re not inventing some new concept here. We’re simply saying, let’s live up to the principles we’ve already enacted and put into law.

Snerdley (03:25):

Talk to us about the George Floyd Scholarship Fund.

WAJ (03:29):

Sure. Well post George Floyd’s death, North Central University, which is a private Christian university in Minneapolis, initiated the George Floyd Scholarship, and they encouraged other schools to do similar things. Now, if that’s all it was, I frankly wouldn’t care because if they want to have a scholarship named after George Floyd, whether you agree with that or not, that’s their business.

The problem is this scholarship at North Central University discriminates on its face. You can only apply for it – and it’s quite a plum scholarship, it’s a full four year ride at the school – You can only apply if you are black, African American, or in their words, have origins in Africa, in the black communities in Africa, I think that is the terminology they used.

Snerdley (04:19):

So if, so if Elon Musk wanted to apply for it, even though he’s an African American, he wouldn’t be eligible because he didn’t come from the black part of Africa….

WAJ (04:33):

Exactly. Exactly. [talkover] Just so people know, you must be a student who’s “black or African American, or a person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa.” So Elon Musk would not qualify to, he wouldn’t even be eligible to apply. And that’s what we object to. Ppeople from North Africa would not be eligible to apply. So that’s why we have filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Education, because North Central University, although it is a private Christian college, does receive federal funding and quite a bit of federal funding. And once you do that, what you have to agree, if you get federal funding, you’re now under the anti-discrimination laws and the civil rights laws, and you have to comply with them. And in our view, they are not complying. So that’s why we brought it.

And we’re hoping that they see the incorrectness of their ways. I’m not that familiar with the college, but based on their website, they seem to be a good college. They seem to want to uphold Christian principles. And having a racially discriminatory scholarship program is not [sic – is] the issue. And again, we don’t care if they have a George Floyd scholarship, but they can’t discriminate on basis of race for eligibility.

Snerdley (05:55):

Lemme ask you a question. A little ebonic language. I’m permitted to do it. I’m black. Let me ask you a question here. What do you suppose the reaction would be if a college, be it Christian or any other religion, or even a public university, suggested that they had a scholarship fund that was only eligible for white people born in Europe? What do you think the reaction would be to that?

WAJ (06:22):

It would be national news. We would be having a national conversation about it. We would be having possibly riots. Okay. <laugh>. Um, there would be congressional press conferences. The president would issue a statement. I mean, we would talk about it endlessly. And I’m not saying we shouldn’t, but you are right.

Most of these questions that we face, the morality of them forget the legality, can be tested by simply saying, what if you reverse the roles? What if it was discriminating in favor of whites or Asians or Hispanics instead of against them? We would not accept that. Particularly if it was a whites only scholarship. This is a blacks only scholarship. The only difference is what your politics are. But morally and legally, they’re the same thing.

Snerdley (07:17):

Where can people find you, professor? Are you, let me, before I before we get to that, let me just ask you another question. What kind of pushback have you gotten from this legal challenge? Any at all? Or is it just, are you hearing from anybody on this? Or is it just kind of smooth sailing so far?

WAJ (07:36):

Well, in general, the project has been pretty well received. I mean, my politics are very different than people at Cornell, so I do get pushback about that. But on this specific project, it’s been mostly positive. Yes, we do get the occasional nastygrams that you always get if you’re out there publicly, but most people understand that we are on the right side of history with this. And most people understand that what’s going on in campuses is not right. You know, so it’s been pretty positive. And people can find us at equalprotect.org.

Snerdley (08:09):

I was gonna ask you where people can find you, equalprotect.org is the name of the organization. Well, professor, it’s been great speaking with you. I wish you well in this project. You are, look, this is what Dr. King talked about, and it’s just, I find it almost unbelievable sometimes that we have strayed so far away from what the message to America was during the civil rights struggle years. That we wanted an America that was colorblind in terms of policy, where people were judged by what they do, by what they bring to the table, not what they looked like. That was the driving message of the Civil Rights movement that America should live up to. Its promise that all citizens are represented equally. And sadly, we have strayed so far away from that. It’s almost, it seems sometimes almost impossible to bring people back to the original intent of what the Civil Rights Movement was about. So you’re doing some brave work here. We wish you well, and I hope you keep us posted.

WAJ (09:15):

Great. Thanks so much for having me on.

Snerdley (09:18):

Wow. A college professor actually doing the work in the trenches. Pretty amazing.

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“we don’t care if they have a George Floyd scholarship, but they can’t discriminate on basis of race for eligibility”

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