A 25-year-plus teaching veteran at San Diego State University is dealing with controversy this week after he allegedly used racially charged language in his “Introduction to Cinema” class.
According to The Daily Aztec, Robert Jordan was discussing “racial assumptions students might encounter in films.”
“I might have an assumption that Black people are just not as intelligent as white people,” Jordan said. “Ooh, I can hear already all the people getting riled up, right? I could believe that. You know, that’s just the way I was raised and that’s just the way my values are. It doesn’t mean I’m going to come and lynch you. It doesn’t mean I’m going to attack you. It might mean I won’t hire you, but it’s the way I think.”
A Twitter account which identifies itself as a SDSU engineering student put up audio of Jordan’s remarks, and called on the university to “pack him up”:
— JJ (@j6ainesjr) April 13, 2021
Some students in the class said Jordan’s comments “hit harder in the context of the ongoing Derick [sic] Chauvin trial and shooting of Duante [sic] Wright.”
Freshman Rhyan Pitts, who made the original recording, said “I’m here trying to convince people every day that my life is valuable and it’s just angering.”
Students in the same Introduction to Cinema class and Jordan’s other TFM courses said he’s made similar off-hand remarks throughout this semester.
“He’s definitely made comments about race and politics multiple times throughout this semester,” TFM production third-year Blake Howard said. “Further on in the semester, it’s been less as a joke and he’s been using them more as examples. It’s hard to differentiate what’s hypothetical in this class and what he actually believes.” …
Some students, like Afrikan Student Union President Kennedy Boyd, are calling for the university to take disciplinary action against Jordan. The SDSU College Chapter of the NAACP posted a statement on Instagram calling on SDSU President Adela de la Torre to investigate the incident and remove Jordan.
Boyd said members of the Black community at SDSU also said the university should have reached out to each Black student organization before putting out a statement.
“A lot of students feel helpless, not because of themselves but in terms of the university,” Boyd said. “The university, to the Black community, seemed to protect the professor, protect their image and de-escalate and defuse the situation before anything else.”
Prof. Jordan sent out a message about the incident on April 13, saying “You can even hear me say that some of these beliefs are correct and ‘some are total BS.’
“Did I personally say that this was my opinion or that I support such ideas? Of course not. Despite my efforts to carefully introduce a controversial, but relevant topics and how they are related to film theory, students are now sharing that 50 second sound bite calling me a racist b*stard.”
So far, the university is standing by Jordan. In a statement posted to Twitter, it said Jordan was showing examples of how racism has been portrayed in TV and film (like in the “Roots” and “Holocaust” mini-series of the 1970s) in order to “better understand the plight and continued struggles of people with different backgrounds.”
It noted Jordan “insisted that the clip in no way represents his personal views or opinions.”
— San Diego State University (@SDSU) April 13, 2021
IMAGE: carbon arc / Flickr.com