As Althouse points out, early in her career, "minority status" would have been useful to her advancement. But once she was on the tenure track at an Ivy League law school, she had more or less reached the pinnacle of academia. At that point, if people thought of her as white, they would assume she got the job entirely on the merits, without benefit of racial preferences.What I said was — guessing — "Being on the list of minority law professors served her interest in advancement, but the claim was weak and potentially embarrassing, so it was deleted . . . after she achieved what was the ultimate advancement (to Harvard Law School)." I didn't specify what I thought was "potentially embarrassing," and Taranto's theory in fact never crossed my mind. He goes on:
Not all minority professors could pull that off. If Warren were black, for instance, everyone would know it, and there would be no way of escaping the stereotype. Because she is--or can pass for--white, she was in a position to have the best of both worlds, advancing through affirmative action, then enjoying the white privilege of appearing to have gotten ahead solely on the merits.What I thought was "potentially embarrassing" was that people might begin to ask if she really was Native American, and she might not be able to verify her status. (She is not an enrolled member of a tribe, which is something students coming to her as a mentor might ask about, perhaps in a challenging way.)
From my perspective — as a lawprof with 25+ years of experience — I do not think the lawprofs who are members of minority groups go around feeling stigmatized. But I do think it would be embarrassing if you were recruited because you were perceived as a member of a minority group that you in fact did not belong to. Harvard was under a lot of pressure at that time to do something about the lack of racial diversity on the faculty, and I'm skeptical of the claim that Warren's minority status never came up during the hiring process. Well, it's not really even a claim. It's just a statement of inability to "recall" that it did.