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Sat Nov 30, 2013, 04:01 PM

Teaching While Black and Blue


I. I am waiting for a letter to arrive in the mail. It will be short, no more than one page, and will be covered in black ink, with the occasional flourish of institutional logo. The signature at the bottom will belong to a high-ranking officer at my Midwestern college of 12,000 students, and the words that preface it will briefly explain the method and, more importantly, the verdict, of an almost three-week long investigation, in which students, faculty, and staff were questioned by the school’s legal staff as to if, in fact, I had committed acts constituting an official case of racial harassment.

What happened to me recently did not happen because I am a young, Black female faculty member at school that has over 50 percent students of color; what happened to me occurred because I turned the world backwards on an angry White male student. We were in a regular weekly meeting of the newspaper staff, and the students were discussing the fact of the new edition, how well it had turned out, and the editor-in-chief said that although he was proud of the paper’s developments, he was not pleased with the fact that so few students regularly picked up the publication. Theories were thrown around as to why this was—the aesthetics were all wrong, the design didn’t pop, the stories could be flashier. Out of the corner of my eye, I thought I saw a noose hanging from the ceiling. When I looked again, it was gone.

Another white male student, angry that writers had not made deadline, had thought it prudent to make a noose of his sweatshirt drawstring the fall before, to step up on the table and hang it, along with a menacing note to writers about the seriousness of deadlines. The two Black students in the room at the time protested, and asked him to take the noose down, but he didn’t listen.

When they told the faculty newspaper adviser of the incident, he told them that he was not such a big deal, that the student had not meant the noose in a racist way. And when the students finally filed a formal legal complaint against their colleague, seeking some kind of institutional acknowledgment of this trauma, they were effectively gagged by the same academic powers that have been conducting the investigation. You see, once language enters the legal realm, it no longer belongs to us—it becomes the sole property of whatever individual or institution is under its employ.



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Reply Teaching While Black and Blue (Original post)
n2doc Nov 2013 OP
alp227 Dec 2013 #1

Response to n2doc (Original post)

Mon Dec 2, 2013, 04:45 PM

1. and she's suing the college for being disciplined, following the students' frivolous complaint

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