Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Things of which I Am Tired

Number One: Racially-charged/racist incidents on/around campuses. See:

A) UCSD reacts to racial incidents

This began with the "Compton Cookout" party for which hosts "invited students to dress and act in a way that encouraged racial stereotypes, mocking Black History Month." Text of the invitation here, but it included helpful details like:
For guys: I expect all males to be rockin Jersey's, stuntin' up in ya White T (XXXL smallest size acceptable), anything FUBU, Ecko, Rockawear, High/low top Jordans or Dunks, Chains, Jorts, stunner shades, 59 50 hats, Tats, etc.

For girls: For those of you who are unfamiliar with ghetto chicks-Ghetto chicks usually have gold teeth, start fights and drama, and wear cheap clothes... They also have short, nappy hair, and usually wear cheap weave... They... speak very loudly, while rolling their neck, and waving their finger in your face.

When overly-sensitive, politically correct, free speech stifling people [/snark] objected, a campus group called KOALA defended the party on the university's television station, and "one student used the 'N-word' to describe critics of the Cookout."

The university then held a teach-in, but students walked out, feeling that the method was ineffective for addressing or healing the problem or underlying issues like the dearth of black faculty or students.

Then, a student strung up a noose in the campus library. Students, again, demanded that campus officials effectively and actively address the incident.

Let's see what happens.

B) 2 MU students apologize for cotton ball incident The "incident" involved the students "scattering cotton balls outside the black culture center at the University of Missouri in Columbia."

C) A Towson University adjunct, Allen Zaruba, was fired for describing himself, in front of his class, as "a nigger on the corporate plantation."

Number Two: The disavowal of racist intent.

The noose-hanger says she had no racist motivation.

The two students at the University of Missouri in Columbia described their actions as "part of a series of foolish acts."

Zaruba pointed out that he serves in a prison ministry and that his stepfather was black. ("One of my best friends...") And it's not that I believe that Zaruba's intent was like the other two cases, but I resent that he fell back on that trope.

I just have more respect for people who own their shit. In what other context do the first two incidents make sense? Black people protest disrespect, lack of representation and support, and systemic racism, and a noose is hung? That's not even original. Cotton balls outside the BLACK CULTURE CENTER?!

Number Three: How quickly the comments on any post on any of these incidents turn to "This is PC gone mad/this is unfair because white people can't say/do what black people say/do!!!/Is this really a racist incident?" etc. Even in the f*cking Chronicle of Higher Education comments!

Really? Are those the primary issues? That some black people say the n-word or called someone cracker, so we must never protest incidents like these? That it's unfair that *everyone* can't bandy around the word "nigger?" Do you want to? Because if you do, I'm sure you already are.

I just want to fire off a snarky letter that begins with, "I am so sorry that our desire to work and study in less racially hostile environments inconveniences you!"

And to all my academic colleagues defending Zaruba on the basis of the "appropriateness" of his comparison:

Adjuncts are overworked and underpaid with little job security. The circumstances under which many work are appalling and I know that I'm fortunate to be on the tenure track.

But I can pretty much guarantee that being an adjunct is markedly different from being "a nigger on a plantation." For some reason, I'm pretty certain of that.

I am reminded of the exasperation my colleague, an Africanist, feels when people say they are working like a slave. Few of us can even imagine the reality (and horror) of that.

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