Between the Lines
21st century racism on college campuses: Time for the board of regents to step in at ucsd
For the past five weeks, one of the ugliest episodes of racism in recent years (before the Tea Partiers started spittin’ on people and calling U. S. Congress people “N--” and “faggots” at the congressional health care vote last weekend) has been playing out on a campus of one of the nation’s largest publicly funded university systems. At the University of California, at San Diego (UCSD), a group of racist students have taken over several of the university’s student run media clubs and have used those media outlets to assault the dignity of African American, Asian, Indian, Mexican, Muslim and Jewish students. However, the racial assaults have been protracted against Black students as they have become the targets of on-going campus disturbances stemming from White students mocking Black History Month celebrations. It’s time the California Board of Regents calls its San Diego campus administration into account for these students’ behavior.
It started out with some White students satirizing Black History Month by inviting the campus to an off-campus party in what they were calling a “Compton cookout.” The Compton Cookout was held on February 15th, President’s Day.
This outraged Black students who voiced their opposition to the administration, at which time some of the students used the campus television outlet to voice support for the White students’ “First Amendment rights” and they also used that opportunity to assault the Black students dignity even further by calling them a bunch of “ungrateful N--.”
The administration suspended the television show, but racist behavior has persisted through the use of other university properties and resources where racist students use symbolic vestiges of American racism to intimidate Black students. The television show incident was followed up by two nooses found on campus, the university’s alternative student run newspaper, KOALA, running a piece under the guise of satirism, “Top 5 ways to increase the number of African American at UCSD.” They were numbered as follows:
1. Ship in more from the Ivory Coast
2. Well, for the ones we have now--chain them up and don’t let any of them transfer to other schools.
3. Count Asians as 3/5 of a person
4. Give the BSU an Indian computer science slave…seriously, they don’t even have a website.
5. Make sure you don’t serve any friend chicken. They hate fried chicken and will not attend any universities where it is served or parties where it is consumed. It’s a Black thing. You wouldn’t understand.
UCSD only has a one (1) percent Black student population (1.3 to be exact). I do understand the history of racism in America and the Eurocentric mindset of subjugating ethnic, racial, and religious “outsiders” through the use of cultural caricatures that stigmatize those trying to acculturate in American society. That same issue of KOALA (which has been in existence since 1982) had article clips insulting the dignity of India-born Indians (Top 5 ways your Indian roommates are useful) Haitians (The Running of the Haitians--after the 7.2 quake, actually a whole page dedicated to the degradation of Haitians), Mexicans (Top 5 things Mexicans are good at, and Top 5 reasons I would bang a Latina), Jews (Top 5 reasons Jews are like clowns) and Muslims (“Dear Muslims"-a column dedicated to insulting Muslims). No articles insulting White people or degrading “Whiteness” as a cultural impediment. Counter-cultural journalism and counter-cultural commentary has its place in a free society, but only as a tool to expose cultural hypocrisy. Not as a tool to reinforce cultural hypocrisy. Racism in America is the country’s biggest hypocritical practice, and we are witnessing the evolution of another generation of racial culturalists, who maintain social and political control by denigrating others in the society. This is extreme and dangerous racist propaganda coming from an institution supported by taxpayers.
These students at UCSD are almost taking a supremacist pride in assaulting the dignity of others, and their animus toward the Black students seems to rise with every protest against their pathetic behavior. Nor do they seem to want to co-exist in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment of higher learning. Higher education should be a safe haven against such racist ethos, not be a perpetuator of it. It is time the regents become intolerant of this behavior. Free speech is only protected speech if it doesn’t assault others. Hate speech is not protected under free speech and satiric speech that causes violence isn’t protected either (prior restraint). It’s time to call for suspensions and expulsions of students that want to continue their racist behavior. Or call for the regents to cut back on UCSD’s state funding until they resolve the problem.
It’s your call, University of California at San Diego? Maybe so, but the student racism has to stop.
Anthony Asadullah Samad, Ph.D., is a national columnist, managing director of the Urban Issues Forum (www.urbanissuesforum.com) and author of the upcoming book, REAL EYEZ: Race, Reality and Politics in 21 Century Popular Culture. He can be reached at www.AnthonySamad.com
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