Monday, May 21, 2007

"i hate black people." - anonymous

why is it that racism always sort of sneaks up on you, even when you're expecting it?

i was just checking my email today because you know, that's what i do when i want to waste 5 to 1,000 minutes of my life, and i noticed an excessively high number of emails over the black community lists. curious, i began to read the chains and met with an unpleasant surprise: two new articles on the crimson online, both horrendous, were being discussed over the lists. I immediately went to the crimson website and read both articles, which was bad enough. then i made the mistake of reading all the comments.

ok so let me actually split this post into two sections. i was going to only talk about the comments, but first i'll take a brief moment to rage about some of the most offensive parts about the articles today.

first, lucy caldwell's ridiculous piece of drivel, entitled "dishonest discourse:"
ok so aside from the fact that in the time i've been reading her columns, ms caldwell has yet to construct one intelligent sentence, or even one unintelligent and also unoffensive sentence, i had some major problems with this piece.
- first of all, she continually calls on the idea of "intellectual honesty" as somehow antithetical to whatever it is that we as black people are doing in trying to shed some light on race relations at harvard and in america. i'm not sure when the last time was that ms caldwell looked at a dictionary, but "intellectual" is not a word she needs to be throwing around as if she understands it. "intellectual honesty" would be something along the lines of the ability to think critically about the issues of race, power, and privilege surrounding the "quad incident" and other issues. it would not be the surprisingly prevalent ability to completely dismiss an entire history of racial oppression within this country as irrelevant to "intellectual" discussion.
- second of all, pulling up the most recent Harvard Foundation controversy in the crimson articles and using it to support your claim that the Foundation is worthless is not journalism. it's some kind of combination of laziness and idiocy. 'nuff said.
- third of all, her claim that as a "upper middle class white daughter of Harvard graduates who has endured relatively little hardship," she is disenfranchised because her opinion on this subject is not valued highly enough. oh my god, lucy. this is not about you. rage. i don't even want to talk about this any more. moving on to the next article...

Adam Goldenberg and Sahil Mahtani have written an article entitled "Dr. Counter Must Apologize." this article quotes Dr. Counter comparing the treatment of black people on Harvard campus by HUPD to "South African apartheid techniques." i seem to be running long and haven't even gotten to the main point of this post yet, so i will just say very quickly that while it is very clever to use the whole "oh HE'S the one being racist because he doesn't understand how serious apartheid was and I do," it is just that. clever. it is not in any way true, and this is another case of the type of twisting of words and "spinning" of ideas in the media that makes me so upset. the article goes on to recall a 1992 controversy in which Dr. Counter was accused of anti-semitism. in my opinion, this takes the article from a somewhat legitimate if offensively-argued voicing of concern to a underhanded smear campaign. ugh.

ok so now that i've gotten that somewhat off my chest, let's move on. here is where my REAL problem lies: the comments section. some of the comments on both articles were SO offensive they actually made me sick to my stomach. i'll copy and paste a few gems for you just to give you an idea of the kind of tone that has been set here. These are taken from the comments sections of the two articles discussed above, as well as from Ashton Lattimore's op-ed and Lumumba Seegars's op-ed earlier in the week.

**"but you can't say something like this in public, since then you'd be called a racist etc... that's the self-protection PC mechanisms of these people - talk to our former president about the bullshit prof's hip hop 'research'."**

**"If I were to join a group called the White Men's Forum I would do it knowing that I couldn't possibly be joining for the right reasons.

Why would anyone expect good behavior from a group founded upon as asinine an idea of solidarity as skin color? It might as well be a gang of hoodlums who join ranks based only upon the color of their shirts and the fact that they live on the same drug dealing turf.

Is it intellectually honest of anyone to not call the police on the Black Men's Forum?"**

**" If there were a white men's forum and they were being loud and obnoxious, I'd call the cops on them. Bunch of little pimps."**

**"I would be surprised if the overall language and comportment of the individuals in the Quad didn't contribute as much to HUPD's being called as the skin tone of those involved.

I had the pleasure of meeting a very-thoughtful young black Harvard student a few months ago, but I couldn't get past his profanity. All he did was butcher the English language, perpetuating an inarticulate stereotype of blacks, which was rather ironic as he was otherwise effectively criticizing the stereotypical portrayal of blacks in the media.

I don't care what his skin tone is, his manner of speech was offensive to me, and I would not have expected it from an educated person. If I overheard a group of people on Harvard property who were comporting themselves like he had, I would call HUPD, too.

Of course, not having been there, it is impossible for me to say that this is the case. I have known many intelligent member of the BMF and ABHW, but I have also encountered those like I described above, I just wonder if we're always too quick to jump to skin tone as a reason."**

**"Black people don't belong at Harvard"**

**"if the black kids on campus didn't walk around with an idiotic "pimp stroll" that makes them feel they are thugged out, then maybe the rest of us on campus would believe that they actually go to Harvard. Many of the black kids I see on campus consciously try to "not look like a Harvard student", that is, they dress like a gang member in Compton - who are they trying to fool?

If you want people to not see you as thugs, stop trying to play the part. Thats not racism, thats just life - stop crying about it."**

**"It is late at night somewhere in Boston or Cambridge. I am a white female walking alone on an almost empty street. On my side of the street, there is a black man walking 10-15 paces behind me -- let's say he's wearing pretty non-descript clothes, nothing out of the ordinary. On the other side of the street, there is a white man, also wearing non-descript clothes -- that is, I don't really notice them or infer anything about class/income from them.

Is it racist for me to think that the other side of the street is safer? Is it racist for me to cross to the other side of the street? What if my feelings correspond to probabilities? What are people's thoughts on this? "**

and these are just a few of my favorites. i'm not even going to address what was actually said in the comments, because they are all ridiculous and not worthy of debate, however i think this points to a serious problem in the crimson, and on the internet in general: anonymous posting. it seems that when people can post as "anonymous" or with some clever pseudonym they thought up for themselves, they think they can just say whatever the hell they want with no repercussions. well they can. and that's the whole problem. more than any of the offensive claims that were made in the articles themselves, the rapant racism, sexism, and homophobia that seems to prevail in the anonymous comments section of the crimson is what creates such an unfriendly and antagonistic environment for those of us who already feel somewhat unwelcome at this university. a look at the comments section on any race, gender, class, sexuality, etc. etc. related clip on youtube will show that this is not a harvard crimson-specific problem. the difference is, the harvard crimson is supposed to be a reputable news source. there is no reason for the crimson to allow anonymous posting on their website when we've seen time and time again the kind of ignorant, insensitive trash that ends up being posted anonymously. if we're looking for positive changes to make, that's one easy step to take to make this campus just a tiny bit less accepting of intolerance.


icarus said...

i really can't believe she's still allowed to publish anything. like, seriously.

Malakim said...

yeah, that's ridiculous. sometimes i wonder if we should be a little bit grateful that people post anonymously because we can see how they really feel (i.e. we can see how racist they actually are).

Kameron said...

hell no we shouldn't be grateful. that's like being the grateful that Klan members cut holes in their wives' sheets. it's cowardly. i can't be grateful for cowards. if we acknowledge that bigotry is innate and that we're all guilty of it -- or, rather, ONCE we acknowledge this -- we'll understand, as a society, that vocal and upfront racism works to the benefit of those trying to fight it. i can't argue with a mass "anonymous." but i can tear lucy caldwell to shreds, so i'll give her credit for giving me the opportunity to do so by associating her name with a set of opinions. she's braver than the rest.

say what we want about this racist senator or that racist neighbor, but there's something to be said for honest, upfront racists. "dishonest discourse"? try dishonest /bigots/.

kkrahel said...

God bless America

Sara Joy said...

I think the best line from Lucy's article, which I just read despite my better judgment, is "I fail to see the parallel here." Exactly, Lucy. Exactly.

PS "disenfranchisement of the majority"??? Does she even speak english?

Brittany said...

Yeah, super incredibly annoying. I think I remember ranting about this in my first post. Anonymity can be good when it protects you, but not when you're using it to hurt others. What assholes. People get on my nerves.

Ryan said...

More than anything, I think the comments show an embarassing lack of perspective - like, really? Life at Harvard is hard because you're white? Try the alternatives, either at Harvard or (better yet) outside of Harvard, and then let's talk about how it's rough being white and political correctness is crushing your spirit.

Malakim said...

lucy's writing isn't even very good. it's average at best. i'm surprised the Crimson let's her write for them.

yeah, "grateful" isn't the right word in response to my earlier comment. what i meant to say is that if there is ANY good coming out of people posting shit anonymously, it's that at least you know they are being honest, instead of simply lying through their teeth.

styrofoamboots said...

Anonymous comments really bring out some frightening undercurrents