• University of Pennsylvania
    University of Pennsylvania
  • Racial prejudice
    Racial prejudice
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Prof. Wax was the subject of significant controversy when she co-authored an editorial that attributes America’s decline to “the eschewing of the hegemony of the bourgeois culture” of the 1940s, ‘50s, and ‘60s. Wax argued that “this era saw the beginnings of an identity politics that inverted the color-blind aspirations of civil rights leaders like the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. into an obsession with race, ethnicity, gender and now sexual preference.”[1]

Furthermore, Wax argued that “all cultures are not equal,” pointing to what she considered to be insufficient preparation for life in the modern world among “some working-class whites; the anti-‘acting white’ rap culture of inner city blacks; the anti-assimilation ideas gaining ground among some Hispanic immigrants.” Responding to her op-ed, a UPenn coalition of students, alumni and faculty accused Wax of “promoting hate and bigotry under the guise of ‘intellectual debate’”, and that she and her co-author Lawrence Alexander were “complicit in,” and guilty of “normalizing” white supremacy.[2]

In an interview with the Daily Pennsylvanian, Wax called Anglo-Protestant norms “superior,” saying that “everyone wants to go to countries ruled by white Europeans,” justifying her comments by maintaining that “bourgeois values can help minorities get ahead.”[3] To date, about half of the faculty at the UPenn Law School have published an open letter condemning Wax’s claims.[4]


[1] Roll, N. (Aug. 25, 2017). Outrage Over Op-Ed. Inside Higher Ed. Retrieved from https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/08/25/professors%E2%80%99-op-ed-rails-against-modern-culture-%E2%80%98inner-city-blacks%E2%80%99

[2] Frommer, R. (Aug. 27, 2017). Law Professors Condemned as Racist After Praising America’s 1950s ‘Bourgeois Culture’. Free Beacon. Retrieved from http://freebeacon.com/culture/law-professors-condemned-racist-praising-americas-1950s-bourgeois-culture/

[3] Sasko, C. (Aug. 11, 2017). Penn Prof Faces Backlash for Saying “Not All Cultures Are Created Equal”. Philadelphia. Retrieved from http://www.phillymag.com/news/2017/08/11/penn-amy-wax-op-ed/

[4] MacDonal, H. (Aug. 31, 2017). Penn Law School Professors Sign Open Letter Condemning Amy Wax. Manhattan Institute. Retrieved from https://www.manhattan-institute.org/html/penn-law-school-professors-sign-open-letter-condemning-amy-wax-10590.html

Associated Organizations:

National Board of Medical Examiners; American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology; MacArthur Foundation; National Association of Scholars

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Departmental Contact

Theodore Ruger, Dean and Bernard G. Segal Professor of Law

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