Parkland survivor Kyle Kashuv learned the hard way that racist comments, regardless of when they were made, will come back to haunt you.
Kashuv attended Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as a junior when a gunman opened fire and killed 17 students and faculty members on February 14, 2018.
Prior to the shooting, he used a racial slur on Google Docs that was screenshot and revealed to the Admissions Committee at Harvard University where he was initially accepted.
As a result of his former indiscretion, Harvard rescinded his acceptance.
The screenshots in which Kashuv repeatedly used the N-word first appeared in May, according to Boston Magazine, and circulated around the internet. Conservative media quickly identified Kashuv as a victim.
Some people out here who think police murdering a black 12 year old with a toy gun is justified suddenly get really… https://t.co/KapCSm6TLg— Adam Serwer🍝 (@Adam Serwer🍝)1560787669.0
Kashuv's repeated use of the racial epithet from Google Docs preceded the following phrase:
"i'm really good at typing [n-word] ok like practice uhhhhhh makes perfect."
Kashuv, 18, reflected on his past mistake and criticized Harvard's decision in a series of tweets.
1/ THREAD: Harvard rescinded my acceptance. Three months after being admitted to Harvard Class of 2023, Harvard h… https://t.co/z55ZSiQkBw— Kyle Kashuv (@Kyle Kashuv)1560776429.0
2/ A few weeks ago, I was made aware of egregious and callous comments classmates and I made privately years ago -… https://t.co/20eebmCFyN— Kyle Kashuv (@Kyle Kashuv)1560776432.0
In his apology, Kahosv downplayed his "idiotic comments."
"I have recently been made aware of screenshots circulating the include offensive comments former classmates and I made a few years ago, long before the shooting. I want to address this with honesty and transparency."
"We were 16-year-olds making idiotic comments, using callous and inflammatory language in an effort to be as extreme and shocking as possible. I'm embarrassed by it, but I want to be clear that the comments I made are not indicative of who I am or who I've become in the years since."
"This past year has forced me to mature and grow in an incredibly drastic way. My world, like everyone else'es in Parkland, was turned upside down on February 14th. When your classmates, your teachers, and your neighbors are killed it transforms you as a human being. I see the world through different eyes and am embarrassed by the petty, flippant kid represented in those screenshots. I believe those I've gotten to know since know that I'm a better person than that."
"I can and will do better moving forward."
Kashov's apology was met with further backlash.
3/ After I issued this apology, speculative articles were written, my peers used the opportunity to attack me, and… https://t.co/n59Kbi2GZM— Kyle Kashuv (@Kyle Kashuv)1560776433.0
As a result of critics unconvinced of his sincerity in the apology letter, Kashuv claimed "former peers & political opponents" campaigned to have Harvard rescind his admission.
4/ After the story broke, former peers & political opponents began contacting Harvard urging them to rescind me. Ha… https://t.co/Vr4GUPqzQv— Kyle Kashuv (@Kyle Kashuv)1560776434.0
Harvard acknowledged media reports of Kahuv's statements and explained:
"Harvard reserves the right to withdraw an offer of admission under various conditions, including 'if you engage or have engaged in behavior that brings into question your honesty, maturity, or moral character.'"
They asked Kahsuv to submit a "full accounting of any such statements you have authored, including not only those discussed in the media but any others as well," on behalf of the Admissions Committee. They additionally requested him to "provide a written explanation of your actions for the Committee's consideration."
5/ I responded to the letter with a full explanation, apology, and requested documents. https://t.co/yWd6FeKWOJ— Kyle Kashuv (@Kyle Kashuv)1560776437.0
6/ I also sent an email to the Office of Diversity and Inclusion to seek guidance on how to right this wrong and wo… https://t.co/CvRlEUWpWw— Kyle Kashuv (@Kyle Kashuv)1560776438.0
7/ Harvard decided to rescind my admission with the following letter. https://t.co/P3bLkF3hHn— Kyle Kashuv (@Kyle Kashuv)1560776440.0
Despite Kashuv fulfilling the request to submit information, Harvard said that their Committee "takes seriously the qualities of maturity and moral character" and made their decision to deny him admission.
However, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion responded differently and wrote Kashuv:
"Thank you for your email. We appreciate your thoughtful reflections and look forward to connecting with you upon your matriculation in the fall of 2020..."
8/ Somewhat ironically, the Office of Diversity and Inclusion sent me this response regarding my apology: “Thank… https://t.co/AZEI33GocR— Kyle Kashuv (@Kyle Kashuv)1560776442.0
When Kashuv attempted to schedule an interview for an opportunity to reconcile, Harvard responded negatively.
9/ After receiving Harvard’s letter revoking my acceptance, I responded by asking for the opportunity to have an in… https://t.co/XsHTPgfwKZ— Kyle Kashuv (@Kyle Kashuv)1560776444.0
Kashuv went on the offense in response to the rejection and reminded Harvard of its alleged racist history.
10/ Harvard deciding that someone can’t grow, especially after a life-altering event like the shooting, is deeply c… https://t.co/j6FGY6TedX— Kyle Kashuv (@Kyle Kashuv)1560776445.0
11/ Throughout its history, Harvard’s faculty has included slave owners, segregationists, bigots and antisemites. I… https://t.co/q9ECGbt0A4— Kyle Kashuv (@Kyle Kashuv)1560776445.0
12/ I believe that institutions and people can grow. I've said that repeatedly. In the end, this isn’t about me,… https://t.co/yqekFnwZs0— Kyle Kashuv (@Kyle Kashuv)1560776445.0
13/ So what now? I’m figuring it out. I had given up huge scholarships in order to go to Harvard, and the deadlin… https://t.co/w2IPq2gJm7— Kyle Kashuv (@Kyle Kashuv)1560777830.0
In stark contrast to his peers like David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez advocating for stricter gun legislation, Kashuv is a proponent for gun rights and earned the respect of conservative political commentators like Ben Shapiro.
After the shooting, Hogg and Gonzalez led protests against gun violence and organized the March for Our Lives demonstration. At the other end of the spectrum, Kashuv spent his senior year at Marjory Stoneman Douglas advocating for gun rights.
He also became the director of high school outreach for Turning Point USA—a conservative nonprofit organization that maintains a watchlist of professors who allegedly target conservative students and spread left-wing propaganda in the classroom.
Twitter called out Kashuv following his rant.
@KyleKashuv From this thread, I think they made the right call!— Chinonso Karen Eke (@Chinonso Karen Eke)1560801923.0
@JustNonso @KyleKashuv Agreed. Imagine being so against “identity politics” and un-ironically pleading to the “Dive… https://t.co/hf4HMcQ1oi— TBD (@TBD)1560802199.0
@JustNonso @KyleKashuv I feel that many commentators who think Harvard was wrong forget that for every Kyle who mad… https://t.co/029C83l32K— blue_storm (@blue_storm)1560803283.0
@KyleKashuv There was a part of me that almost felt sorry for you based on this accounting. Because I do believe in… https://t.co/0BwubfQD6T— 🔮🐝 l e x i 🐝🔮 (@🔮🐝 l e x i 🐝🔮)1560804204.0
@KyleKashuv Sorry that was /1. This is /2 - to exploit said tragedy and make him feel worse than he probably alread… https://t.co/1Qf3KSK8iX— 🔮🐝 l e x i 🐝🔮 (@🔮🐝 l e x i 🐝🔮)1560804379.0
@KyleKashuv The fact that you apologize does not mean you have to be forgiven. Forgiveness is a gift to be given or… https://t.co/u0GaNFJ2vq— 1 word, 4 caps, 3 g's, 3 dots (@1 word, 4 caps, 3 g's, 3 dots)1560805125.0
There was no sympathy for Kahsuv, but users did offer him some sobering words.
@KyleKashuv Kyle, as someone who almost got into Harvard, you should be able to comprehend what I’m about to write.… https://t.co/h7QjTq0AiC— God's Monster (@God's Monster)1560802579.0
@KyleKashuv Don't act like using racial slurs is a phase white teens go through. You said it, you apologized now t… https://t.co/JUUiy26QsN— Crystal Seymore (@Crystal Seymore)1560804120.0
@KyleKashuv You did this to yourself, and got exactly what you deserve. Now stop crying and go fill out Liberty U a… https://t.co/0g6ZcIMvxT— déèqa π (@déèqa π)1560803259.0
@KyleKashuv Admission to Harvard is for those individuals who stand out as exceptional in all areas. Clearly, that… https://t.co/4Avz8JJNkB— David Davis (@David Davis)1560803964.0
This was not the first time Harvard rescinded admission based on racist or bigoted behavior by potential students.
In 2017, Harvard denied ten applicants for the incoming Class of 2021 who shared racist and/or sexually explicit memes in a private Facebook group chat formerly called "Harvard memes for horny bourgeois teens."
A second Facebook group demanded those wanting to join to provide "provocative memes."
According to leaked screenshots obtained by The Harvard Crimson, the comments targeted minority groups and also made references to Mexicans, the Holocaust and the deaths of children.
Many find speaking about race and racism difficult. The critically acclaimed book White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism can help people begin a dialogue without the issues that sabotage many attempts. You can get the book here.
Conservative voices made claims of freedom of speech, but the United States Constitution only covers a person's freedom from government repercussions for their speech, not private companies or institutions and does not offer a freedom from consequences.