For shock value, juxtapose the bellyaching by University of Missouri students about their hairdos being disrespected and other "microaggressions," with the murder of black children in Chicago.
To get a sense of the horror of what is happening in Chicago, read Leonard Pitts' Chicago Tribune op-ed, "The blood of our children," about the murder of 9-year-old Tyshawn Lee. "There are few places more dangerous for black children -- for black people -- than Chicago itself," Pitts wrote. Not just for Tyshawn, but for the other black children who were killed in the line of fire by black gangs.
Pitts is not making a point of comparing the outrage that accompanies the murder of innocents with the gravity of having your afro disrespected on the University of Missouri main campus. But I am.
I have tried without much success to get a full itemization of the slurs, insults and smears that rise to a level that justifies the humiliating departure of Mizzou President Tim Wolfe. Critical readers have repeatedly pointed me in a direction of three incidents of proof of a hostile racial environment on campus: a poop swastika on dorm wall, a student leader called the N-word, and a carload of drunk white assholes in a passing car calling a group of black students the N-word.
And what else? The closest I could find was a Twitter site, #BlackonCampus, that supposedly reveals the "outrageous examples of racism experienced every day by black students." Here are some examples:
- "White students are constantly amazed at how 'eloquent' I am." (Like Joe Biden, I suppose.)
- "Privilege was me being moved out of my dorm, because my roommate was afraid of me. She simply learned abt blacks from tv."
- "When I was in law school a classmate asked me: 'Do you students take the same tests we take?'
- "Having your college ID on the ready as if they were your freedom papers."
- "When you mention that you received a scholarship, & classmates ask what sport you play B4 acknowledging that it was academic."
- "Being afraid to answer questions in class for fear of being wrong/seen as 'stupid' in front of white peers."
- "When white students complain about Affirmative action and minority scholarships but don't complain about 'legacy/ admissions"
- "Telling the administration about racism, and them telling YOU to solve it. Like you work there. Like you aint a student."
- "Are you sure you want to wear your hair that way." "Is that hair style professional." "You're so 'brave' to wear a fro."
- "Never being called on in class, or always looked at to defend and justify every black, when I am one person."
- "Being told talking about race and racism is being 'oversensitive."
- "When you're the only black student in class & asked, 'are you sure you're in the right class?'"
- "Freshman year of college I was accused of finishing math exam 'too fast' by a white teacher at my HBCU and was given an F."
- "When the white kid apologizes for nothing every time you see him/ her, we are labeled as antagonist in their eyes!!!"
- "Conversing with students and profs tht hve spent zero amount of time considering or learning frm/about ur tradition."
As one poster said, "It's not the slurs; it's the everyday slights." Apparently, these microaggressions add up to a macroaggression. Okay, I understand that. Living in such a real or perceived environment can be challenging.
But there's also the possibility that many white, Asian and other students suffer the same indignities. White students are not immune from being afraid to raise their hands in class because their answer might seem stupid. White students are routinely accused of being "insensitive." I was asked if I was in the right class--because I was in the wrong one. Showing your ID is a part of every student's life.
Other complaints I'd like to hear more details, such as about the freshman being accused of finishing the exam too fast. Was it so fast that the teacher suspected cheating? Did the student get an F because he got too many answers wrong after flying through the exam too quickly?
Some white students are just idiots, like the one who asked if a black student "takes the same test." And--I'll dare say it--some blacks might just be overly sensitive.
The American past is loaded with so many injustices--slavery, lynchings, Jim Crow, segregation, violence, intimidation. As a people, the suffering of African Americans equals or arguably has surpassed any other. But raising microaggressions and "triggers" to such heightened levels risks trivializing the greater hurts. Such as the plague of killings of black children.
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