If my memory is correct, Harvard is 12% black, so black men make up 6% of the community. So, the chances of this happening being purely coincidental are .06x.06x.06 = .000216 or one fifth of one percent. So probably it’s not a coincidence. So what’s going on?(more in expanded post)
First, I think black men have just worked harder (and more successfully) than most at this school on campus politics: the ascendancy of BMF as a major campus group, the BMF’s leadership in last year’s AIDs conference, their leadership role in this year’s STOP Campaign, Ty’s run for UC President last year, the Vote or Die campaigns to get more minorities on the UC. They’ve been effective and public. Part of the reason they work so hard, I would guess, is that they have more to fight (prejudice, Harvard’s de facto old white man, etc.) than most, so they learn how to be effective, how to mobilize their community, how to create their own institutions, etc. And, they’ve had good leadership to make that happen.
My second theory is either totally obvious or totally bogus, and I’d love to hear what others have to say. It goes something like this: American pop culture, while often degrading and stereotyping black males as criminals etc., also holds them up as the pinnacles of “cool.” Hip hop culture, sports, and many other aspects of culture that define “cool” are based around images of “cool” black men: P Diddy, Michael Jordan, etc. etc. Hence, the white kids in the suburbs who listen to Tupac (while understanding very little of what he’s really saying) and wear FUBU (and never realized that it stands for “For Us By Us”). So, while many suburban white kids at Harvard may be able to say that they understand that not all black men are cool rappers and basketball players, there’s still a subconscious association between back men and “coolness”. The result, under this line of thinking, is that we suburban whities have some subconscious desire to be friends with cool black men that goes beyond whether or not they’re smart/nice/etc. There’s something inherently “cool” about black men, and therefore being friends with Ty or Caleb etc. makes us a little cooler by proxy.
So those are my theories, what are yours?