racism

Who knew that ignorance was a legitimate excuse for falling behind in course work?

The University of Iowa removed an anti-racist statue from campus shortly after it was erected because several students mistook it for a racist statue. Some thought it heralded a return of the KKK.

Some students were apparently so traumatized they couldn’t focus on coursework – and the school pressured faculty to grant their extension requests, The Gazette reports:

The next day, Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin sent an email mentioning social media buzz around “extensions for students affected by current and recent events” and said Helena Dettmer, associate dean for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, had advised faculty to approve it. Rocklin also provided a contact in the Dean of Students Office for others “who need accommodations” to help them “sort through options and sometimes advocate on their behalf.”

College of Liberal Arts and Sciences policy states students can make up exams missed due to illness, religious obligations, authorized university activities, or unavoidable circumstances. Such circumstances could include jury duty, family tragedy, or a car accident, according to the policy.

UI spokeswoman Beck said, “It is up to individual faculty members to determine if an academic accommodation should be made.”

Though he eventually caved, chemistry professor Christopher Cheatum wrote in an email to administrators this was a bad idea:

Cheatum said one student missed a makeup exam at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 5 — about eight hours after the statue in question was dismantled and more than an hour after meeting with administrators on the topic. That student emailed a professor just before midnight Dec. 5 to report he had missed classes and “was not in my right mind to be able to think about chemistry concepts tonight.”

“This student, by his own admission, had 1.5 hours after the event(s) in question were over to gather himself and prepare for the exam,” Cheatum wrote in his email to administrators. “If we were to allow an exception in this case, we would then set a precedent that being involved in some protest or political action is a legitimate basis for missing an exam, which we might then have to accommodate for other protest situations, to which we would not be so sympathetic.”

If this sounds familiar, it’s because Columbia Law School did the same thing for its students traumatized by the non-indictments in the Eric Garner and Michael Brown cases.

Wonkette had some fun with these delicate students in a post headlined “Poor Dears At U Of Iowa Terribly Upset By Anti-Racist Art Piece. Makeup Tests For Everyone!” (the “KKK” subhead is great too):

So yay for Doc Cheatum (who really sounds like a character in a Western) both for being nice and recognizing that This Sort Of Thing Could Get Out Of Hand. Yes, it was upsetting art (art often is!), and yes, the protests over censorship were also very intense, but come on, kids, you’re college students, too, and neither an upsetting art installation nor a protest about its removal is a car crash or a death in the family. For heavens sake, we couldn’t sleep after the finale of M*A*S*H in 1983, but we certainly didn’t try to duck out of any exams, even though it wasn’t a chicken, it WAS A BABY!

Read the Gazette story.

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Ezekiel Edmonds, a science teacher at Royal Palm Beach High School in Florida, has been reassigned to “alternate duty” after an audio recording surfaced of him (allegedly) going on off-topic rants about white people.

The mother of a child in the class became concerned with her son’s complaints about Edmonds — that he “wasn’t teaching science.”

She asked her son for proof, and he provided it — in the form of a clandestine (audio) recording.

“My son’s science teacher does not teach science,” the mother wrote in a letter to former Representative Allen West. “Instead, Mr. Edmonds shows videos about black oppression. He discusses how white people hold black people down, and that blacks should stand up to this oppression. He stirs up racial divisiveness in the classroom.”

The Palm Beach Post reports:

In the recording … a man is heard likening urban gentrification to “what they did in Nazi Germany when they created the ghettos.”

The man also says that ancient Europeans co-opted black religious figures, including Jesus and his apostles, and converted them into white characters for the Christian faith.

School district spokeswoman Kathy Burstein said officials could not confirm whether the recording is authentic, but that officials began an investigation this week after receiving complaints. Edmonds, 43, has been placed on alternative duty, she said.

The mother added in her letter: “Don’t they have to take all of these Common Core tests and pass them? How will this help them? This is an Earth Science Class…this teacher should be teaching Earth Science, not Black Studies. I checked the text book…there is nothing about black oppression in that science text book.”

Read the full article.

h/t BizPac Review.

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UPDATED

FLINT, Mich. – A former Communist Party USA candidate whose weapons were used to kidnap a judge in 1970 told a packed university crowd to “stand up for access to good, organic non-GMO food,” among other progressive causes.

Angela Davis, who was once associated with the Black Panthers and acquitted of conspiracy in the kidnapping, received a standing ovation Friday from the capacity crowd of 400 at the University of Michigan-Flint, with another 300 people viewing from another auditorium, said Pam Zemore, community relations specialist at the school.

Davis encouraged the audience to recognize the “interconnected nature of justice struggles” throughout the world.“

“If we want to put an end to anti-black, anti-Chicano, and anti-Latino racism we will also have to speak out against economic exploitation, against war, against the destruction of the environment, against anti-Muslim racism, against anti-Semitism, against gender bias, against homophobia, and against ableism,” said Davis, whose speaking fees range from $10,000 to $20,000.

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A former UCLA professor, Davis was recently honored in the school’s “Optimist” marketing campaign, as The College Fix has reported. The professor was fired in 1969 by the UC board of regents for her Communist Party USA membership, and after that rationale was struck down in court, the board fired her in 1970 for using “inflammatory language” in speeches.

She returned to UCLA to teach last spring for the first time in 45 years. Davis is currently a distinguished professor emerita in the “history of consciousness and feminist studies” at UC-Santa Cruz.

Beyond food that’s not tainted by genetically modified organisms, Davis asked the enthusiastic UM-Flint crowd to demand “free education” and “free health care,” and to “recognize the degree in which this contemporary racism” in police forces “is inflected with the ideology of the so-called War against Terror.”

Seeing that “makes us understand the really important connections between anti-Arab, anti-Muslim racism, anti-black racism, anti-Latino racism,” Davis said. “If we do not understand these connections we will not be effective in our struggles to eradicate racism.”

AssataShakur.NJDeptofCorrections.WMCDavis described Assata Shakur, who was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1977 for her role in the killing of a New Jersey state trooper, as a “major hero of the black liberation movement.”

Shakur has been “studying, teaching, working, and being very constructive and productive” since her escape from prison to Cuba more than 30 years ago, Davis said.

“This makes you think about what is this thing called terrorism? What is it they are really trying to capture?” Davis asked rhetorically, answering that “we should recognize that this is a retroactive criminalization of the black liberation movement.”

President Barack Obama’s recent overtures toward Cuba have led New Jersey authorities to hope Shakur, whose legal name is Joanne Chesimard, could be captured and returned to finish her prison sentence, NJ.com reported in December. She was the first woman to be placed on the FBI’s most wanted terrorist list, in 2013.

Davis referred to the Equal Justice Initiative’s new report on the history of lynching in America, which she said is important because “it urges us to see lynching as an act of terror and to think about the domestic terrorism upon which this country was created.

“There has been an unbroken line of racist killings, vigilante killings, police killings since the era of slavery,” she said, arguing that recent “mobilizations” are simply a response to these issues.

Get involved with “communities that are struggling,” Davis encouraged the audience. “We cannot pivot to the center, we cannot be moderate.”

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UM-Flint student Elena Sobrino told The Fix after the lecture that Davis “made a really good impression on me as somebody who I wasn’t really directly familiar” with her.

“I love when they bring controversial figures,” said another UM-Flint student, Thomas Mann, of the school’s invited speakers. “They shouldn’t bring anyone but controversial figures as long as they’re controversial figures of the Left.”

“When you start thinking about race and injustice as far as the proportions of people of color in our prison-industrial system or our corrections system, I think those things have been prevalent the past couple of decades,” UM-Dearborn student Keith McCallum told The Fix. “The fact that she’s here and speaking on it … hits home.”

CORRECTION: Angela Davis did not graduate from UCLA. The article has been amended to reflect this.

College Fix reporter Mariana Barillas is a student at the University of Michigan-Flint.

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IMAGES: Mariana Barillas, New Jersey Department of Corrections/Wikimedia Commons

Three sociology professors have offered a spirited defense of Arizona State University’s controversial new “The Problem of Whiteness” course in interviews with The State Press campus newspaper.

Noel Cazenave, a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut, told the paper he has taught similar classes and that “I want people to realize in Arizona that it is OK to talk about whiteness as a problem.”

“Don’t play language games that keep people from using straightforward and honest language to talk about our very serious problems in this country, and white racism is a serious problem,” he added.

Joe Feagin, a sociology professor at Texas A&M, told the paper: “Our history is rooted in white supremacy. Eighty-three percent (of history) was ruled by slavery and Jim Crow. We’ve only theoretically been a free country since 1969, when the Civil Rights Act went into effect.”

And Charles Gallagher, a sociology professor at La Salle University, said that “we may have a black president, but this is a white nation. Look at Congress. Look at the halls of justice. Look at corporate America. It’s white people running the show.”

Read the full article.

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The Iowa City Press-Citizen has an in-depth (and depressing) look at the timeline of events that led the University of Iowa to remove an anti-racist statue from campus because some students utterly missed the point.

Vice President for Student Life Tom Rocklin repeatedly defended the school’s action against its own artist-in-residence. Try not to throw up when you read his response to a concerned law professor:

“While I understood that I would view the piece through the lens of my own privilege, hearing the students pour out their hearts as they described the fear they felt when the saw the piece was a visceral reminder that intent is only part of the question … and sometimes impact trumps intent.”

Keep holding back that impulse to wretch:

In the email [to a concerned student], Rocklin said it took five or 10 minutes between when he arrived on the Pentacrest and when the sculpture was taken down. But he described that time as being “excruciating” for community members who feared for their safety.

Orwell couldn’t have written the university’s official response any better:

The two-paragraph statement further said UI “respects freedom of speech, but the university is also responsible for ensuring that public discourse is respectful and sensitive.” As such, “there is no room for divisive, insensitive, and intolerant displays on this campus.”

The head of the art school ripped the head of PR for the statement:

“Are you aware that the work was clearly — to anyone who actually looked at it — an indictment of racial injustice in the U.S.?” …

“I think it would be important to interpret the work correctly. The UI statement gives a false impression about the meaning of the work of art and that contradicts our reason for being an institution of higher learning.”

Shake your head and weep:

To a question about what more Rocklin would say to [artist Serhat] Tanyolacar, Rocklin responded in one Dec. 5 email: “All I can say is that the students were not just hurt. Some of them were genuinely afraid that the KKK was on campus and might harm them.”

Read the full story.

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New York Times opinion columnist Charles Blow is fuming (his word) that his son, a junior chemistry major at Yale, was stopped at gunpoint by a campus cop.

Apparently Blow’s son matched the description of a burglary suspect, and Yale officers “responded to emergency calls from undergraduates in Trumbull College” stating that an individual had gained entrance “under false pretenses, pretending to be looking for someone.”

Yale released a statement on the incident, noting among things that the suspect was “a tall, African-American, college-aged student wearing a black jacket and a red and white hat” … and that “was the description that Yale police used as they converged on Trumbull and attempted to track down the suspect.”

Blow’s son “was briefly detained and released by Yale police.” The actual suspect was eventually caught later that evening.

The columnist took to Twitter to vent his anger (via Twitchy):


Numerous commenters at Twitchy and on Twitter say Blow is way overreacting. Is the fact that his son attends an Ivy League school supposed to insulate the undergrad from police doing their job?

In my late teens a friend and I were approached by a cop car speeding down the street. Right in front of my house the police locked up their brakes, and a woman cop got out of the passenger side yelling at us to “freeze.” She didn’t draw her gun, but had her hand on it in its holster.

It seemed we matched the description of a couple assailants who had beat up and robbed some young kids.

We were very cooperative. Once they checked us out and verified where we had been, they thanked us for our time. There was no real apology, other than something like “sorry for taking so long on this.”

Read the full story.

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