Dallas Justice Now: 'Rich White' kids told to avoid Ivy League to make place for students of color

'This pledge is a historic opportunity for our white allies to join our movement,' said the Dallas Justice Now founder


                            Dallas Justice Now: 'Rich White' kids told to avoid Ivy League to make place for students of color
A view of Harvard Yard on the campus of Harvard University on July 08, 2020 in Cambridge, Massachusetts (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

 A Dallas-based social group is asking affluent White families not to enroll their kids in Ivy League schools to help correct the "cruel injustices" of racism. On July 26, Dallas Justice Now (DJN) catapulted into the national spotlight after sending out flyers to affluent White families asking them to avoid the top schools nationwide, so that minorities can be given an opportunity to attend.

It's the latest in a long line of incidents where top American universities have been dragged into the racism debate. In April, Harvard University cooked up a storm for saying anti-Asian racism has made people "wish they weren't Asian". Several other universities have been forced to address racism all over the US, either thanks to their staff or students. In May, Iowa State was slammed over a tweet by professor Rita Mookerjee. Then in June, Yale was forced to put out the fires of a talk by psychiatrist Aruna Khilanani, who said she fantasized about shooting White people. 

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Whether the universities themselves are racist or not, is a debate for another time. For now, we need to ask ourselves how we can help ensure minorities have access to the same opportunities. DJN believes access to education is a key component, which is why they sent out the flyers. Wondering who is the person responsible? Meet Michele Washington.

A screenshot of the Dallas Justice Now website.

Who founded Dallas Justice Now?

The social advocacy group was founded by Michele Washington in October 2020. Despite having her name popping up in headlines, little is actually known about Washington. She hasn't provided any extensive interviews and has a very limited presence on social media. We found her Facebook profile, but all it says is that she lives in Dallas, Texas, and founded DJN in 2020. There are no posts on her feed, indicating that the account is likely not in use. 

We couldn't find an Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn profile linked to Washington, so we are unable to learn more about her. Interestingly, there's not much we could find out about DJN either. Wayback Machine's earliest record of the website is on June 3. There's also no record of DJN with the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, or the Tax-Exempt Entity Search. The only mention of DJN comes from the July 26 flyer, and a past news story.

On July 22, DJN appeared on EIN Presswire. The site reported that an AT&T employee was harassing DJN, "by calling the police to report the organization without evidence or reason." No other website appears to report this story. The flyers were first reported by Dallas City Wire. The website says they got an image of the flyer from Casie Tomlin, the same person DJN accused of harassment on EIN Presswire. The letter is also up on DJN's website at the time of reporting.

Pledge dubbed a 'historic opportunity'

The controversial pledge reads, "As a white person with privilege both from my whiteness and my neighborhood I recognize the need to make sacrifices for the purpose of correcting hundreds of years of murder, slavery, discrimination, and lack of educational and economic opportunities perpetrated upon people of color." It then calls on wealthy White families to "not apply to or attend any Ivy League School or US News & World Report Top 50 School so that position at that school is available for people of color to help correct historical wrongs."

In a press release, Washington said, "This pledge is a historic opportunity for our white allies to join our movement. Donating a few bucks that was otherwise stolen from our communities, tweeting, and putting up yard signs are meaningless self-congratulatory gestures." In an interview with The Daily Mail, she called the idea a "minor sacrifice for privileged families" and added, "Imagine the progress we could make ending the multi-trillion dollar wealth gap if those hundred thousand spots at top colleges went to Black and LatinX students."

An image of the pledge sent to Dallas residents by Dallas Justice Now (Twitter)

Washington is not wrong. A 2014 Atlantic article highlighted the lack of economic diversity at Ivy League schools. A 2017 study further indicated that less than 5 percent of students come from families in the bottom 20 percent of the income distribution. There are numerous other studies and reports that indicate that Ivy Leagues schools have had a historic issue with access and diversity. But is asking people not to apply really the best way forward? Social media doesn't think so, with many users slamming DJN and Washington. 

However, Washington is not too worried about the backlash. "If whites want to be our allies, they must make sacrifices. Many people think they can get by just posting on social media - it's hurtful to those of us who have dedicated our lives to social justice when they think that is enough to remedy hundreds of years of oppression," she told the Dallas City Wire.

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