Last week it was reported that Avery Coffey, age 17, had received offers to five ivy League schools. And just this week, 17-year-old Kwasi Enin bested that effort by getting accepted at all eight of them.
These were moments of celebration for two black teens who had worked tirelessly to achieve the elusive goal of Ivy acceptance, and the mainstream media recognized that this accomplishment was rare, especially for African Americans. When The Root posted both stories, they were the highest-trafficked and most shared stories of the day.
And then Internet users took to the social networking sites, armed with bitterness and virtual picket signs to hate on the teens’ success. One wrote:
Seriously? My application was almost identical except that I was first in my class out of a top ranked tech academy focusing on a biotechnology program. I listed “white” for my ethnicity because they didn’t have an option for Armenian. F**k affirmative action.
The posts were repetitive and equally offensive and hurtful.
Didn’t help that Washington Post education reporter Valerie Strauss came out with a blog post about Ivy League adoration, cut with her own haterade.
“Have you heard yet about 17-year-old Kwasi Enin of Shirley, N.Y., who applied to all of the eight schools in the Ivy League and got into every single one?” she wrote. “If not, you are, by now, the only one. Congratulations to Kwasi Enin. Now can we stop talking about him?”
But Strauss’ snarkiness didn’t stop there: “We might as well also congratulate Avery Coffey, 17, a senior at D.C.’s Benjamin Banneker Academic High School, who was admitted to all five of the Ivy League schools—Harvard, Princeton, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania and Brown—to which he applied, according to MyFoxDC.com. Well done. But that’s enough.”
While Strauss’ overall point was about easing up on the Ivy Leagues as the Holy Grail of college acceptance, it was lost in her choice of examples. Black faces don’t make up the Ivy League. Especially not young black male faces. And Strauss should have known better.