The Real College Admissions Problem: White Mediocrity

For years, my Black and Brown academic colleagues have silently shouldered the burden of our own excellence. No more.

Ciarra Jones, MTS

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Serena Williams holds the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after winning the women’s final match against Maria Sharapova in 2015. Photo: Hannah Peters/Getty Images

At a family friend’s Christmas party, I found myself enthralled in an incredibly interesting conversation with a white woman intrigued by my work in religion. She, too, had folks in her life who work in religious spaces, and we found ourselves connecting on an array of topics. Suddenly, the conversation turned toward my education.

“Your work sounds fascinating, where do you attend school?” she asked.

“I am currently at Harvard Divinity School,” I replied. “I am gearing up to graduate soon.”

“Oh! Wow, you got to Harvard. Wow, so cool. Well, my son applied to a whole bunch of colleges and did not get in. But you know, there is nothing special about him, his grades are pretty average, and, you know… he is not… ethnic.”

The conversation ended there. Abruptly. Like many adults at holiday parties, I utilized the generous amount of wine present to shake off this woman’s racism and continue to mingle.

But I stewed on this conversation for days. I felt surprised at myself. I am normally incredibly assertive in the face of macroaggressions, but…

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Ciarra Jones, MTS

My writing explores DEI, religious inclusion, social justice, and personal development.