Justice Antonin Scalia has come under fire this week for controversial comments on affirmative action during a hearing on Wednesday. The Supreme Court Justice suggested African American students “do well” at “slower track schools”—as opposed to top-tier universities. “There are those who contend that it does not benefit African Americans to get them into the University of Texas where they do not do well, as opposed to having them go to a less-advanced school, a slower-track school where they do well," Scalia said.

Scalia has received criticism from black lawmakers, civil rights attorneys, and even presidential candidates, including Donald Trump, a GOP contender known for his own controversial and bellicose comments on the subject of race. The Reverends Emmett G. Price III and Irene Monroe joined Jim Braude and Margery Eagan on Boston Public Radio for their regular Monday feature, All Revved Up. “Two things concern me,” Monroe said. “I’d like to know how [Supreme Court Justice] Clarence Thomas is taking this news from his buddy. Secondly, we have to remember this—when we have term limits, we can get folks like that off the bench.”

“He’s a supreme court justice and there’s no accountability,” said Price, a professor of music at Northeastern University. “And what he said is the belief of many people; not just in terms of the citizenry, but also in terms of academia. Northeastern University has a three percent population of African Americans on campus, including students.”

According to Price, this attitude that African American students are academically inferior is widely accepted at academic institutions—it’s just not talked about in public. “We can get mad because Scalia said it in public,” he said, “and he has a transcript, but do the work. Let’s look at all the institutions, and it’s playing out that way.”

“These antiquated notions are not just racial, they’re also sexual,” Monroe said, referencing comments made by Larry Summers, Harvard’s President in 2005, suggesting that underrepresentation of women in STEM professions is due to an “innate” mental difference in men and women.


Colleges are failing to provide safe environments for African American students, Monroe said. “Just look at Harvard with defacing the portraits of black professors,” Monroe said. “While the campus is not safe for a lot of black students, the outer campus—meaning the rest of the city—is also problematic.”

Monroe said her years in Academia were personally challenging for her as an African American woman. “This whole notion that African-Americans don’t belong in top-tier schools? That was certainly a feeling that I got when I was at Wellesley, at Harvard, as well as Columbia,” she said. “But when you have someone like [George W. Bush], who can neither compose nor articulate a simple sentence, and graduate from Yale College and Harvard Business school? I rest my case. You see the implicit bias here. He was there because of a legacy, it wasn’t earned.”

To hear All Revved Up, click the audio link above.Rev. Emmett G. Price III is a professor of music at Northeastern University, and the author ofThe Black Church and Hip Hop Culture.Rev. Irene Monroe is a syndicated religion columnist who writes forHuffington Post andBay Windows.