Speaking at Mercer, Anita Hill calls for racial and gender equality

Written by: Kellie Rendina

Anita Hill, Senior Advisor to the Provost and Professor of Social Policy, Law, and Women’s Studies at Brandeis University,  came to speak at Mercer’s West Windsor campus Wednesday evening May 2. Hill spoke to a packed house, though few students were in attendance. She addressed a range of different issues and discussed her new book titled “Reimaging Equality: Stories of Gender, Race, and Finding Home.”

Hill is most well known for her testimony against current Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas during his confirmation process. Hill testified that Thomas sexually harassed her while she worked for him when he was the head of the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission. Despite Hill’s testimony, Thomas was elected a justice of the Supreme Court, where he remains, the only African-American among the nine current justices.

At the lecture, Hill discussed the reasoning behind her coming forward with her testimony against Clarence Thomas in 1991.

“I had information about an individual who was going to be appointed to a lifetime position, who was going to be deciding the rights of people and I had information that I believed he did not respect those rights… and therefore you could not count on him him to respect them in the way that he judged the cases that came before him. The integrity of the court was at stake and the integrity of the court is only as good as the integrity of the people who sit on the court.”

Hill went on to say that she was proud to have been a part of the conversation that followed the Thomas hearings and that she was most proud of the fact that women began talking and “women talked to their mothers and they talked to their daughters…my testimony didn’t change things, your reaction to my testimony was what changed things.”

Hill questioned how far women’s rights have actually come and sited the Lashonda Davis case in which Davis, a fifth grade student from Forsyth, Georgia was both verbally assaulted and groped by a classmate throughout a five month period in 1992. Allegedly, the school did nothing about these complaints.

The case went to the supreme court, the matter in question was whether a public school should be held accountable when they “‘react with deliberate indifference’ to known acts of sexual harassment.” The decision was made with just a 5:4 vote, in favor of Davis. Hill argues that this should not have even been a question in the first place, let alone such a close vote.

“How secure is even a decision like the Davis case today?…We’ve got to make sure that those cases don’t even get to the supreme court. A case like that, I really would be fearful of what would happen if it got to the supreme court.” She said.

Prof. Daniel D’Arpa, the director of the Foreign Language Department was in attendance at the lecture and took away a different message from Hill’s discussion on the Davis case. He said, [the case] “made me stop and think about the important role of lawyers in our society. Here is a case where educators like myself failed to help a young girl in need. And it took lawyers to fight for her to make things right. I know that Hill’s point was more about the fragility of the 5-4 vote and how it could have gone the other way. But I was left thinking about how the education system had failed the student while the legal system helped her.”

Hill then transitioned into a discussion on women in the housing crisis. Hill began with the “inequity of women’s pay,” and the wage gap, as a main reason for women being affected differently during the housing crisis. “Our government seems to have accepted that women earn 77 cents for every dollar men earn, it’s almost become normalized…As long as our wages are depressed women on their own will always be trying to catch up when it comes to housing.”

Hill also argued that this disparity is in part due to subprime lending. Subprime loans typically come with higher interest rates and unfavorable terms in order to make up for a “higher credit risk.”

When women began entering the housing market on their own in large numbers in the early 2000’s, subprime lending also became popular. “Women were in the market, trying to borrow this money and they were getting shafted. They were being targeted, and many of them were qualifying for conventional loans, but they were getting high cost loans.” Hill stated that there is evidence that women were twice as likely as men to get a subprime loan

As the cost of housing goes up, it is projected that the percentage of women who’ll spend 50% of income on housing will increase over the next 20 years. Hill questions how women will be able to send their children to college with these potential figures and how, during a severe winter, women will even be able to pay their utilities.

D’Arpa said he was also very interested in Hill’s discussion of the housing crisis’s effects on women. He told The VOICE that Hill’s views made him see the situation in a new way. “I learned that the data on inequality in housing for women can be argued to correlate with that of African Americans in general because so many black households are headed by women. This interpretation of the data was something I hadn’t thought of before, and it’s the kind of thing that good scholars do well,” he said.

Mercer Dean and James Kerney Campus Provost Monica Weaver, one of the organizers of the event, told the VOICE she saw the lecture as “an opportunity for students at both campuses to work together for the community.” However, at the lecture, most attendees were MCCC professors and people from different organizations such as the NJ Women Lawyers Association and the Association of Black Women Lawyers of NJ.

In an interview with The VOICE, Hill was asked about current events like the Trayvon Martin shooting. Hill said she believes that events that bring up racial issues like the Trayvon Martin shooting are “disruptive narratives that make people think differently about things. I don’t see it [the Martin shooting] as a polarizing event. It has potential to bring us together.”

Hill also discussed the recent Sandra Fluke case. Fluke, a law student at Georgetown argued for a mandate for contraception coverage and to include institutions that object on moral grounds. Hill stated that this issue is about “A young woman’s ability to have her voice heard. That’s what we’re dealing with 20 years ago and it’s what we’re dealing with now.”

Hill ended with a simple statement: “I do insist that we all stand up for gender and racial equality. We can’t have one without the other.”

Registration for the event was $25 ($10 for NJWLA or ABWL members). Proceeds went to the Homefront shelter.

Print Friendly
Share this:
Facebook Twitter Pinterest Tumbler Email

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Kellie Rendina
advert

Comments are closed.

Enrollment decline corresponds to higher tuition

Mercer County Community College’s enrollment has gone down again, according to an Enrollment Trends data chart that was updated January […]

Transgender discussion panel succeeds despite vandalism

Including panelists, 20 people attended a transgender issues panel held at Mercer in SC 104 on April 16, 2015 despite […]

After Reddit mocks diversity disaster, college uses real student successes for promo models

When entering MCCC, you can’t miss the life-sized images of students hanging from the lamp posts lining the perimeter campus […]

STUDENT PROFILE: Interview with Colette Leonard James

The VOICE’s ongoing STUDENT PROFILES series explores the lives of individual Mercer students and their unique, surprising, often courageous stories. […]

Snyder puts Avengers on ice in Vikings home opener

Mercer County Community College’s baseball team got to play on home turf for the first time on Thursday, March 23. […]

Friends can be found even on commuter community college campus, if you look

A common complaint heard on campus is that people come to class and then immediately leave for home or to […]

New bill would tighten pedestrian responsibilities

South Jersey assemblyman Chris Brown introduced the Driver and Pedestrian Mutual Responsibility Act on On Feb. 6, 2017. If passed, […]

New York’s Times Square really is worth the bucket list

The array of lights, sounds, billboards, smells, the buzzing hive of activity, and all the yellow taxis have made Times […]

Philadelphia Flower Show displays feature Dutch designs and student entry takes home gold

This year the Philadelphia Flower Show theme was, “Holland Flowering the World” which inspired entrants to come up with new […]

NJ Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman addresses student questions

As the 2016 presidential election grew near, The VOICE surveyed Mercer students and found most weren’t very interested in politics, […]

What the flock? Suburban chickens rule the roost

We are in the middle of a chicken craze. Residents of towns across the state have taken to backyard poultry […]

Habit Burger: A habit that may become an addiction

Habit Burger located on Rt 1 in Lawrenceville, has given Central Jersey a touch of sunny Southern California–where the franchise […]

REVIEW: Asbury Biergarten: A taste of the Old World at the Jersey shore

Resembling an old, weathered factory with its red brick walls and charcoal color stairs, the Asbury Biergarten in Asbury Park, […]

This site is protected by Comment SPAM Wiper.
Social links powered by Ecreative Internet Marketing