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Yale Women’s Center ticked that white woman replaced slaveholder on building name

Trying to distract from ‘continuous perpetuation of white supremacy’ at Yale

It’s not enough for the Yale Women’s Center that the university took the name of a slaveholding vice president off a building.

It criticized the school for renaming Calhoun College after an accomplished alumna, computer-science pioneer and Rear Adm. Grace Murray Hopper, because she was white.

The Yale Daily News reports:

However, while the renaming may represent an affirmation of the power of both student and New Haven activists to enact change, the Yale Women’s Center has argued that more remains to be done. In a Facebook post last weekend, the Women’s Center wrote that the decision to “change the name from a white supremacist to a white woman, as amazing as she may be, is an act of whitewashing.”

In its post, the center tried to walk the line between celebrating “the second honoring of a woman for Yale’s residential colleges” and denouncing another white name on a building:

We feel the name change still does not reflect the issues raised by students and alumni for the years of Change-the-Name activism. …

[T]he decision to rename the college after another white person seems like an attempt to end this discussion on the history of white supremacy and its active and continued role in this institution and on our campus. …

We wish to call upon Grace Hopper College to become a center of resources and action for marginalized peoples and their accomplishments to this campus and to the nation at large.

The Board of the Yale Women’s Center is happy with the decision to change the name of John C. Calhoun College to Grace…

Posted by The Yale Women's Center on Saturday, February 11, 2017

On the same day, the women’s center announced a discussion event about Hopper that took place Thursday.

The PR coordinator for the women’s center, Vicki Beizer, told the Daily that “renaming the college after a white woman doesn’t put the cork in the bottle” and that the administration ignored names that would have “carried the dialogue further”:

[T]he naming of the college after a white woman shows the administration is still not truly listening to what the students want, as there is “an element of give an inch, take an inch.”

Two staffers for the women’s center went even further in a Daily op-ed:

We recognize that white femininity has often been used as a tool to enforce racist and colonialist structures. …

The Yale administration’s decision to rename the college Hopper is an attempt to corrode and erase the long history of activism by students of color — particularly black women — on this campus. … There was no recognition of the countless hours black students and students of color have put into the fight against the honoring of a white supremacist in their home. In the process, they sacrificed sleep, homework and mental health. … Given that the college is named after a white woman, are we supposed to continue to talk about Yale’s history of slavery and its continuous perpetuation of white supremacy? …

It is incoherent to offer gender as a substitute for race. Race, gender and class are not interchangeable. Changing Calhoun to Hopper did not provide an answer to the demand of students of color: For Yale to recognize its complicity in white supremacy.

Read the News report and op-ed and women’s center Facebook post.

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