After the Supreme Court upheld the use of race-conscious admissions at the University of Texas at Austin in a 4-to-3 decision on Thursday morning, Twitter did what Twitter does best: generated a pop-culture mashup.
The hashtag #BeckyWithTheBadGrades started trending. It refers both to Abigail N. Fisher, the white female student who sued to overturn the university’s affirmative-action policy after she was denied admission, and to a Beyoncé lyric from the song “Sorry” off her most recent album, Lemonade.
For those not well versed in Beyoncé, on the track she tells an ex-lover that because she is no longer around to put up with his nonsense, “he better call Becky with the good hair.” “Becky” is a term for a stereotypical white woman, and the mention of her “good hair” alludes to society’s elevation of whiteness, especially white beauty, and how whiteness is considered “good” or preferable to any nonwhite alternative. Thus “Becky with the good hair” became a succinct phrase on the internet to call out white privilege.
By twisting the phrase to refer to Ms. Fisher’s supposed “bad grades” (she scored 1180 on the SAT and had a grade-point average of 3.59, according to court records cited by ProPublica), Twitter has anointed her the “Becky” of the moment. Professors, Austin graduates, and others across the Twitterverse have weighed in:
— Chezare A. Warren (@DrChezareWarren) June 23, 2016
— Rebecca Gorena (@rebeccagorena) June 23, 2016
Lil Abby better grow up. The SCOTUS has told her. I see she’s salty in the corner, she’s sneaking out the back door #beckywiththebadgrades
— Lala Perkins (@SteelersGurlie) June 23, 2016
You spend 5 years suing the school for curving you, and then the Supreme Court Hit you with the "NAH" #BeckyWithTheBadGrades
— RespeckMyPolitics (@StanFritz) June 23, 2016
And here’s a “Crying Jordan” for good measure:
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— Myles Brown (@mdotbrown) June 23, 2016