Monday, March 1, 2010

A "Post-racial" America? Not at the University of California

There are some people who have, since the election of a Black American president, promoted the notion that we now live in a "post-racial" historical epoch that evidences the decline of race and ethnicity in the construction of the American social reality. But apparently, that optimistic message has yet to reach the campus of the University of California in San Diego.

UCSD has witnessed recent incidents that point out the fact that racism is alive, and even thriving, at the university. On February 25th, a noose-symbolic of the lynching of African-Americans-was discovered on a book shelf at the main library of the university. This outrage prompted a group of irate students to stage a four hour sit-in demonstration at the office of the President of the University on the following day.

But not to be outdone, anonymous students at the university then held an off-campus "Compton Picnic", full of ugly racial satire and even uglier racial epithets, in which students were asked to come dressed in "ghetto" attire and eat watermelon-all to demonstrate
their disdain for African-Americans and for the celebration of Black History Month.

These incidents, added to the detention of Muslim student demonstrators earlier in February at the University of California campus in Irvine, have both exacerbated racial and ethic tensions throughout the University of California system, and cast light on the under-representation of Black students throughout the system.

At UCSD, for example, incoming Black freshmen represent less than 2 percent of the class of 2013, even though African-Americans make up more than 10% of the area population. For some in the "majority" community, this level of diversity is acceptable, since the USCD is touted as a "research" campus (translation: Blacks are expected to matriculate elsewhere, where "lower" academic standards prevail).

However, the incidents on and around the UCSD campus reflect hard-core racist attitudes that simply cannot be dismissed as insensitive pranks or demonstrations of bad taste.

Arguably, the national climate of race relations is still troubling, and reflective of deep sentiments of both racism ( in the examples of the noose and the "Compton Picnic" incidents), and Islamic xenophobia at UC-Irvine. Some students apparently feel that it is safe to display openly racist and hateful sentiments. Others, perhaps, feel the same way about people of color but are a little more circumspect about expressing themselves so openly.

Racist demonstrations that are tantamount to cross burnings underscore the need for a deeper examination of the need for real pluralism and a a more open discourse on racism in America. And the unfortunate incidents on these two prestigious University of California campuses underscore the reality that racism still festers in American society.

Just as students challenged racial segregation in the 1960's, they must rise up and organize to challenge it again in its most ugly, recent manifestations.

Ibrahim Ramey

1 comment:

Montana said...

Instead of an apology there has been steady escalation and now the noose. So, what exactly will the excuses be for this cowardly act that brings up memories of the confederate KKK of the South in their attempts to keep slavery and the non-whites in fear? Is it that are uneducated, is it that their parents planted these seeds of hate, is it that they are live in fear because our President in the white house is not 100% white. This is what the republican party of “birthers, baggers and blowhards” have brought you. These kids follow what their dullard leaders say, they listen to Beck, Hedgecock, Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush and Savage and the rest of the Blowhards, they are young and dumb. Are you surprise at what they do when you know what they think?