Law School Grad Haunted by Racist Class Notes

ByABC News
January 8, 2009, 12:19 AM

April 12, 2007 — -- Kiwi Camara boasts an impressive resume. He is the recipient of a coveted clerk position for a U.S. Court of Appeals' judge and a distinguished law fellowship, a Stanford economics doctoral student, and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, the youngest graduate in the history of Harvard Law.

Yet this 22-year-old whiz kid cannot get a job.

It seems no matter where Camara goes his reputation is never too far behind. His mere presence on college campuses across the country has ignited intense debate, sit-ins and even protests.

With such impressive credentials, one would never guess that something as basic as Camara's class notes could incite such controversy, but that is exactly what happened.

In his first year at Harvard Law in 2002, when he was just 16 years old, Camara posted notes from his property law class online, a common practice at Harvard. However, in his notes Camara used a derogatory word in reference to African-Americans -- using the term "nigs" as shorthand for blacks.

Immediately, Camara's racist remark sparked campus and citywide debate, despite its removal from the law school's intranet site.

Now, nearly six years later, Camara is still haunted by this incident.

"It's followed me at every stage of my career," he said in an interview with ABC News. "When I applied for law firm jobs, when I was a law student. It came up again when I applied for clerkships with judges in my third year of law school. And it's come up ever since. Several law schools have expressed to me informally that the controversy is the reason why they can't make me an offer as a law professor."

Camara does not try to make excuses for his discriminatory note; instead he agrees with those who speak out against him and characterizes his comment as "very bad." Yet Camara insists that he is not racist.

"I have no explanation for what I did. It wasn't a decision. It was a mistake, and I don't think it indicates my views on race," he said. "I'm not a racist, and I've never been a racist."