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Larissa Pham: The Architecture of Racism at Yale University

What it’s really like to be a student of color in the Ivy League

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Image taken from Flickr user slack12

By Larissa Pham

“I think it’s the architecture,” Dina says, after delivering a line during freshman orientation at Yale that earns her a year of therapy and a small audience of concerned white people writing in notebooks. The protagonist of ZZ Packer’s short story “Drinking Coffee Elsewhere” is a nerdy, self-aware young black woman who is struggling to navigate the newly classist and racist space into which she’s been thrust, far from her hometown of Baltimore, with its Gothic colonnades and Georgian redbrick. “I imagined how the college must have looked when it was founded, when most of the students owned slaves,” Dina tells us. “I pictured men wearing tights and knickers, smoking pipes.” Packer’s protagonist is emphatically unhappy at Yale, a place that sees her not as a promising student but as a problem, one to be pondered over and solved.

I remember being giddy to the point of nausea during my own arrival at Yale five years ago, filled with a heady mix of excitement and trepidation. Rising through the silvered tunnels of Union Station and hailing a cab, watching the spires of campus puncture the bright blue sky during the drive to those astonishing towers that were to be my residence for the next four years. There, suddenly, was the incontrovertible proof that I was somewhere, somewhere exceedingly far from my hometown on the West Coast. Surrounded by an institution that had chosen me and that I had in turn chosen. This place, I recall thinking, was to be my home.

For the past two weeks, there has been a great deal of organizing and protests at Yale, notably led by women of color undergraduates on campus, stemming from two racially charged, inciting events occurring around Halloween. An email sent out by Yale’s Intercultural Affairs Council urged students to be sensitive in their choice of costume; following grumblings from some students, an email from Erika Christakis—wife of Nicholas Christakis, the master of one of the residential colleges—suggested that students should be free to dress up in whatever costumes they wanted, offensive or no. Later that weekend, a black female student reported being turned away from a fraternity party on the basis that it was for “white girls only.” Tensions running high, conversations about race turned both inward and outward on campus, from closed-door meetings with college administrators to a thousand-strong March of Resilience from students on Cross Campus.

Yet the resulting media coverage has garbled what remains at the root of these protests, diluting their message entirely for those who have not witnessed the problem firsthand. The Atlantic incoherently described it as an overreaction by misguided “social justice warriors”; The National Review attributed it to hypersensitivity and “political correctness gone amok.” Other coverage half-heartedly acknowledged the tension at the center of the issue but tiptoed around defining it.

It may be difficult to imagine that life at Yale, a site of immense privilege as well as a seemingly liberal oasis, could be tough for students at all in light of other, more violent instances of racism occurring across the nation. Yet Yale’s high bar of entry and its utopian image do not preclude its students from being victim to ordinary, systemic injustice. In fact, entering into a place where privilege is so pervasive may only make it more difficult for students from diverse backgrounds to assert their own identities, making greater the inequality between those who have power and those who do not. The demand we make of these student activists, then, should not be How bad is it? or Does this really happen? For at the heart of what’s going on is the long-awaited release of years of pent-up pain and frustration, caused by the slow burn of chronic, systemic injustice. As Aaron Lewis, a current senior, wrote in Medium, “The protests are not really about Halloween costumes or a frat party. They’re about a mismatch between the Yale we find in admissions brochures and the Yale we experience every day.”

This breed of racism isn’t showy or overtly violent, which makes it hard to define, like a kind of low-grade radiation that kills slowly.

This tension is not new. It is a product of the systemic racism built into the institution, as ubiquitous as the architecture that characterizes the place in our shared consciousness. “Everyone who enters Yale is reminded that they’re in an environment that is a product of centuries of classism and racism,” Cynthia Hua, who graduated earlier this year, told me. “You can see it in the buildings. They’re symbols of the way society has been stratified—it’s even in their names.” (One of Yale’s residential colleges is named for the nineteenth-century politician John C. Calhoun, who advocated secession and spoke of slavery as a force for good.) And the problem goes beyond architecture—architecture just happens to be its most potent symbol.

This breed of racism isn’t showy or overtly violent, which makes it hard to define, like a kind of low-grade radiation that kills slowly. It’s being the only woman of color in a seminar room, or feeling physically unsafe on campus, or having to endure stereotypical assumptions about one’s race in even the most innocuous of situations. Zack Graham, a black student who graduated in 2013, gave me this anecdote: “I showed up for office hours and the TA asked which sport I played—as though the notion that I was a regular student accepted through regular channels was an impossibility.”

He was not an athlete.

Kendra Dawsey, another recent black graduate, recalled being stopped by a parent outside a gate on campus: “‘Are you a Yale student?’ she asked. ‘Yes.’ ‘Are you sure?’”

She was not not a Yale student.

This subtle racism even obstructs students from doing their best academic work—ironic in a place that prides itself on its academic rigor. Lest we forget, Yale is an institution of learning, first and foremost. “I had to recognize that professors were resistant to investing in my academic topics because they weren’t interested in race or gender or sexuality,” said Santiago Sanchez, a recent graduate. Elle Perez, a graduate of the MFA program in photography, cited a similar experience. “I remember crying in the hallway with a friend after my second critique because I just couldn’t believe how absolutely blatant the difference in being talked to was between myself and the white male classmates. The amount professors can relate to you is directly influenced by your identity,” Perez said, adding: “That feeling of safety, of doing well, affects how many risks you take. If you feel unsafe you take less risks, and you grow less.”

Adriana Miele, a senior currently organizing and participating in the protests, related to me an incident in which, during an English class discussion of a poem about rape, she voiced her discomfort with the subject and her professor dismissed it. Instead, he embarrassed her in front of the entire seminar, standing up and suggesting that they could “set up a punching bag of John Donne in the corner” so she could beat it up. She hardly spoke in class for the rest of the year.

One’s experience of systemic racism is rarely one singular flash fire but a series of slow, agonizing burns that accumulate over time.

It may be no surprise to note, given this environment, that Yale has a majority white faculty and, despite a recently announced $50 million diversity initiative, is failing to retain its instructors of color.

One’s experience of systemic racism is rarely a singular flash fire but a series of slow, agonizing burns that accumulate over time. They take a toll on students. Many speak of the emotional drain of dealing with day-to-day microaggressions on top of Yale’s academic stresses, which already demand an enormous effort. “I just didn’t have the energy to make good work my second year because I was so drained from my first year, when I would regularly speak up about things I felt were discriminatory or wrong,” Perez told me. “There’s a silence and different treatment that happens via exclusion when you do speak up.”

Though Perez was an MFA student, the undergraduate experience is much the same, if not amplified. “I didn’t really allow myself to process racist things as they were happening,” one recent graduate, who requested to remain anonymous, told me. “I’d talk to other black female friends about it, but by the end of my time at Yale I realized I was extremely burnt out. I could hardly function.” Now a graduate student at Yale, and a participant in the ongoing protests, she fears for her personal and physical safety after witnessing the reception of a video in which a young black female student confronts Nicholas Christakis over the email and the college’s response. After the video was posted to Reddit and other platforms, the student in the clip began receiving death threats.

In her email regarding the matter of offensive Halloween costumes, Erika Christakis wrote: “Nicholas says, if you don’t like a costume someone is wearing, look away.” Yet this sentiment implies that students ought to remove themselves from activities and events as a means of survival, excluding themselves rather than changing the status quo. Putting the onus on students to remove themselves from the university they’ve chosen seems a poor substitute for actual change. “‘Just look away’ turns into ‘Just don’t come to school,’ which turns into ‘Actually, just don’t come here at all,’” said Perez.

Indeed, trying to describe the racism embedded within an institution becomes largely a portrait of absences and exclusions. Systemic racism makes its existence known most insidiously and exhaustingly in its denial of the pain of those who call it out, manifesting in constant requests for proof that this pain is real. “It’s really frustrating that even with some of my dear friends who I care about and respect—they practically interrogate me and want me to tell these sad stories in order to justify something,” said Summer Baxter, who graduated earlier this year. “They need to hear a sob story to know that something’s true.”

Yale may very well be a site of privilege, but being born into privilege is not the only way one finds themselves sprawled out on an extra-long twin bed on Old Campus, staring dizzily out onto the green. The university is a place richly imbued with an aura that makes it easy to love, and to moreover want that love in return. “When you get here, it’s supposed to be your home, right?” Hua said. But for many students, of a variety of backgrounds, Yale doesn’t feel like the home they want to see or even the home they need. “You spend four years trying to adapt to the environment you’re in,” Hua continued. “My parents were immigrants; I worked all four years I was at Yale. I felt really conscious of this.” What should feel like home feels like a dislocation, forcing students to reconcile with the fact that this place they’re supposed to love—this place that they do love, as I love it, too—was not built with their needs in mind.

This reconciliation is at the center of much of the pain Yale’s students are channeling into protest. “I care about Yale,” Baxter told me. “It’s my home, and I love it, and I want to make it better.” Yet as Jelani Cobb wrote last week, in one of the few good pieces of analysis to come out of a major magazine: as at Mizzou, there is “the feeling, among students of color, that they are tenants rather than stakeholders in their universities.” Universities select students and they choose to attend in return; don’t institutions owe their students the courtesy of paying attention? “It’s very disappointing when you’re at a place that’s supposed to protect you and you feel like they’re not doing that,” Miele told me.

If these anecdotes seem small, if they seem perhaps too subtle or too nuanced or too easily brushed off, that is the point. Systemic racism operates in pernicious ways. It feels like the things one ought to be able to push aside. It is shaped by exclusion and denial and silence, or silencing. “These things happen all the time,” said Miele, the senior who is currently part of the movement on campus. “They happen all over the world and they happen here and I never felt that I could talk to anyone about it here. It’s heartbreaking.” By its very nature it is a kind of gaslighting, excruciatingly difficult to pin down because to report it is to open one’s self to being accused of crying wolf, to immediate disbelief. “You go out of your way to talk about it because you care about these people, you want them to understand,” Baxter told me. “But nobody wants to believe you.”

The racist bias—unconscious or otherwise; implicit or otherwise—must be shed especially at the highest levels of the university in order to see real change.

Yesterday afternoon, following almost two weeks of protest, insistent media coverage, and a list of demands provided by Next Yale, an undergraduate organization, university President Peter Salovey outlined a four-point plan designed to give structure toward “building a more inclusive Yale.” The plan covers strengthening the university’s academics in the areas of race and social identity, including the aforementioned faculty diversity initiative; expanding services and support for students; improving institutional structures and practices; and adding representations of diversity on campus. Though on the face of it these points seem like a promising start, they’re also a striking symbol of how wide the gulf is between the Yale that exists now and the Yale its students would like to see.

“I have mixed feelings regarding Salovey’s email,” Adriana Miele told me. “I am so glad that he recognizes the significance of this historical moment, but I wish the university could’ve made larger commitments. That said, I think a lot of those decisions are out of his hands, like residential college names, which are up to the Corporation.”

Therein lies the true difficulty in dislodging injustice from an institution: how does one influence Yale Corporation, the financial side of a university that makes upper-level decisions, largely invisible to the public? The email from Salovey fails to address Yale’s endowment hoarding, which was targeted by Victor Fleischer, a professor at the University of San Diego, in The New York Times earlier this year. “Many of the persistent examples of racism at Yale have their roots in investment decisions,” writes Next Yale and GESO, the graduate employees and students organization, in their introduction to the teach-in happening this afternoon. The racist bias—unconscious or otherwise; implicit or otherwise—must be shed especially at the highest levels of the university in order to see real change.

Tangled up in that devotion is the understanding that the institution must change.

After I had moved into an apartment off campus to find community outside of the community I had been flung into; after I had sat on student panels in a stunted attempt to diversify the course offerings of my department; after I had largely given up on being understood by an institution that did not acknowledge the micro-aggressions I faced daily—I still found solace in spaces on Yale’s campus. In the Gothic arches and colonnades that let the light in in stripes and photographed so beautifully; in the courtyards of colleges with their magnolia trees and tulips in the spring; in the wide, comfortable steps of Rudolph Hall, where I took breaks from my job at the arts library to chat with friends passing by on the street. Even if it was hard, it was the place I was in. The place I had survived, the place where there burned a fire in which my strongest friendships were forged.

Even now when I think of Yale I’m filled with an intense, visceral devotion that seems almost unreasonable given how difficult it was for me to exist there. Its towers and flagstones and wood-paneled seminar rooms are cast with the bright hue of memory. But tangled up in that devotion is the understanding that the institution must change. The students organizing at Yale are striving to illuminate and dismantle the most secret and difficult of racisms, the kind that is built into the institution. And they are reminding us in their protest that this racism exists elsewhere, too. That it exists everywhere, that it is a part of your life as it has been a part of theirs and a part of mine. It behooves us all to listen.

Larissa Pham is a writer based in Brooklyn. Her work has appeared in Adult Magazine, Nerve, New York Magazine, The Hairpin, Maxim, Full Stop Magazine, The Rumpus, Gawker, VICE, The Intentional, and elsewhere.

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13 comments for Larissa Pham: The Architecture of Racism at Yale University

  1. Comment by Starfishncoffee on November 19, 2015 at 2:21 am

    I just want to thank you for this, Larissa. I’m a Class of ’93 grad. You explain the subtleties & uniqueness of systemic/structural racism on campus.

  2. Comment by Erica on November 20, 2015 at 7:40 pm

    Thank you Larissa for your extremely thoughtful article. It is undeniably true that there is a pervasive and insidious thread of institutional racism that pervades the Ivy League and other elite institutions. It stings when people make off-hand comments not realizing that their racist assumptions are painfully transparent to the listener. However, when I reflect back on my years at Columbia and Wellesley what is most important is the connection that you make notwithstanding the feeling of otherness. You have to embrace the institution as your own and make the experience work for you. Yale students of color must not allow their “otherness” to define their experience. Your experience should not be defined by others assumptions nor should one’s interests be limited to things reflecting race, gender, identity. The talents that brought you to Yale are so much bigger than that.

  3. Comment by Kasia on November 24, 2015 at 6:54 pm

    “If these anecdotes seem small, if they seem perhaps too subtle or too nuanced or too easily brushed off, that is the point.”

    Yup, and it’s also the point of those who dismiss the whole thing. We keep hearing the same two anecdotes and the rest is a string of vague accusations. I’m an immigrant and a woman, I’ve often been in situations where I felt as an outsider. But I’m not blaming “insidious racism”. You have to be able to differentiate between intentional discrimination and situations that arise from the fact of you being “different” and a minority in a certain setting.

    There’s nothing in the article that convinces me that there is really a problem at Yale.

  4. Comment by Kevin on November 24, 2015 at 7:45 pm

    It makes sense that the liberal hell-hole institution of the Ivy League would be racist. All liberals are elitist racists, thinking that the Caucasian race is so superior, the other races need handouts and assistance just to survive in this complex white-protestant male controlled society. They believe all other races are so weak and feeble, they wouldn’t make it otherwise. Black is not a special interest group, nor Hispanic, or any other race. They are people, with their own great history and story. Unfortunately, you moronic drooling brainwashed husks buy into the affirmative action, take the handouts, join the race baiting bandwagon, and ultimately submit to the liberal idea that you are inferior and require help. The idea that has been around since the plantation days, that forward thinking people like Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass helped to end. It was Yale type liberals keeping you on the plantation then, and they strive to do it today also. And you make them stronger with garbage writings such as this, so congratulations in paving the way for your ultimate demise. It won’t be “micro aggression” or whatever that destroys and subdues this nation’s diversity, but those who are diverse openly submitting that they just aren’t as good as white people, and protest the white people to take even more control. Instead of being strong and achieving, and taking control of your life, you protest the government to take control, and all the big white run institutions. You are a fool, with a fools logic.

  5. Comment by Avery Jarhman on November 24, 2015 at 8:28 pm

    Larissa Pham wrote, “It may be difficult to imagine that life at Yale, a site of immense privilege as well as a seemingly liberal oasis, could be tough for students at all in light of other, more violent instances of racism occurring across the nation.”

    I recognize that racial prejudice exists in today’s America, though I refuse to accept that racism is prevalent in my country.

    No way on Earth do a substantial number of Americans believe that people of African descent are inferior humans, therefore they should be dominated by superior humans, which is the definition of racism.

    I believe America’s expanding and shameful epidemic of *Childhood Abuse and Neglect* has replaced the oppression and indignities of racism, resulting with my American neighbors of African descent experiencing prejudice from many peaceful Americans for not doing anything to educate or prevent immature teen girls and women from creating poverty by building families before acquiring the skills, PATIENCE and means to provide their child or children with a safe, fairly happy American kid childhood with Safe Streets to travel and play on.

    Please allow me to explain why I hold this belief.

    Early in my police career when I was assigned to the Brooklyn community Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter raps/writes about attempting destroy by selling poison to depressed people living and working in his community, and rapping about engaging in extremely harmful anti-social behaviors designed to protect his drug operation from rival gangs in adjoining neighborhoods, a few of my training officers advised me to be prepared to experience “culture shock.”

    When I asked what is meant by “culture shock,” I was told, “You’ll find out.”

    I did find out what “culture shock” is, though it was not a culture of violence and harmful anti-social activities many were insinuating I would be shocked by.

    The aspect of this Brooklyn, NY community that shocked me to the core was witnessing children being emotionally scarred by an *American Sub-Culture of Child Abuse/Neglect*,” aka *Poverty* that Kendrick Lamar raps and speaks about some twenty-five years after I first witnessed the *”American Sub-Culture of Child Abuse/Neglect”* that today CONTINUES emotionally damaging many developing children and their communities.

    I personally witnessed the emotional trauma and physical pain a young, neglected, unsupervised, *Shawn ‘Jay Z’ Carter* is responsible for causing, and its aftermath, leaving a community populated by mostly peaceful people fearing for their safety on a 24/7 basis, which are the hours Shawn’s crew/gang were selling community harming substances.

    During the twelve years I served this community I met hundreds of peaceful people who were just as shaken, upset and deeply disturbed as I was by the daily displays of violence and other anti-social activities mostly caused by teens and adults who were victims of childhood abuse and neglect.

    I was lucky, at the end of my workday I could leave the community, returning to a more peaceful residential community where concerns for me and my family’s safety were significantly lower.

    However, virtually all of my civilian co-workers, mostly loving, competent moms living in this community were not as fortunate. They were burdened with stresses and challenges my parents did not face to any significant degree.

    The added stresses and challenges my peaceful co-workers faced was preventing their children from being negatively influenced by abused, neglected, unsupervised children being raised and nurtured by immature, “living wild” teen moms and young women who irresponsibly begin building families before they acquired the skills, maturity, *PATIENCE* and means to independently provide for their family of developing children.

    In his 2015 Grammy award winning Rap Performance titled “I”, Kendrick Lamar writes, *”I’ve been dealing with depression ever since an adolescent.”*

    During a January 20, 2011 LAWeekly interview (Google search) Kendrick, born in 1987, the same year songwriter Suzanne Vega wrote a song about child abuse and *VICTIM DENIAL* that was nominated for a Grammy award, told the interviewer:

    *”Lamar’s parents moved from Chicago to Compton in 1984 with all of $500 in their pockets. “My mom’s one of 13 [THIRTEEN] siblings, and they all got SIX kids, and till I was 13 everybody was in Compton,” he says.”*

    *”I’m 6 years old, seein’ my uncles playing with shotguns, sellin’ dope in front of the apartment. My moms and pops never said nothing, ’cause they were young and living wild, too. I got about 15 stories like ‘Average Joe.'”*

    It seems evident to me Kendrick identified the source of his depression, the roots of poverty, the child abuse/maltreatment that prevented him, his brothers, sisters, cousins, neighborhood friends, elementary and JHS classmates from enjoying a fairly happy safe childhood.

    Seems the adults responsible for raising the children in Kendrick’s immediate and extended family placed obstacles in their children’s way, causing their kids to deal with challenges and stresses young minds are not prepared to deal with…*nor should they or any other children be exposed to and have to deal with.*

    It seems evident to me these *PARENTAL INTRODUCED* obstacles and challenges cause some developing children’s minds to become tormented and go haywire, not knowing *OR NOT CARING ABOUT* right from wrong…because as they mature, young victims of child abuse realize their parents introduced them to a life of pain and struggle, totally unlike the mostly safe, happy life the media showed them many American kids were enjoying. *RESENTMENT*

    I wonder how little Kendrick and his classmates reacted when their elementary school teacher introduced the DARE presenter and they learned about the real dangers of drugs and how they harm people, including their parents? *Cognitive Dissonance*

    I cannot speak for anyone else, but if I was raised in Kendrick’s family I would most likely be silently peeved at my parents. particularly my mom who had the final say on whether or not I was born, for being immature, irresponsible “living wild” adults who deprived me, my sisters and brothers of experiencing a safe, fairly happy Average Joe or Josie American childhood.

    I have a feeling most Americans would have been just as shaken and disturbed as I was when witnessing on a daily basis children and teens being abused, neglected and unsupervised, which often resulted with them venting their anger and frustrations on their peaceful neighbors.

    This video depicts horrific examples of men who were victims of childhood abuse and neglect, conditioning a young teen to embrace ‘The Street’ culture Baltimore Mom of The Year failed to protect her teen son from…not to mention representing the fear peaceful people living and WORKING in the community experience knowing depressed, angry, unpredictable teens and young adults need to vent their angers and frustrations for being introduced to a life of pain and struggle by irresponsible, “living wild” single moms and/or dads.

    https://www.youtube.com//watch?v=C3ChOLiJa8k

    This video depicts acts of criminal child abuse, maltreatment and violence against…”A little girl, catching a cool breeze from an air conditioning unit in the yard, was blindsided by another child about her same age, who had evidently had some practice with fighting fierce. The small victim wasn’t alone, as there were plenty of nearby witnesses, who could have protected her but didn’t because they were too busy recording the brutal beat down and encouraging it.” | Written By Amanda Shea

    https://www.facebook.com/mediatakeout/videos/vb.731743396857610/1037463359618944/

    NY Times May 18, 2015 – *Rise in Suicide by Black Children Surprises Researchers*

    Quoting the NYT article, *”The suicide rate among black children has nearly doubled since the early 1990s, surpassing the rate for white children, a new study has found.”*

    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/19/health/suicide-rate-for-black-children-surged-in-2-decades-study-says.html

    Who is responsible for traumatizing, abusing, neglecting, maltreating children to the point where depressed young kids, we’re talking elementary school age children, believe their lives are not worth living?

    With all due respect to my American neighbors of African descent, the oppression of humans that led to racism and slavery has largely been replaced with a new form of human oppression that impedes and deprives many American children from experiencing a safe, fairly happy American kid childhood.

    The question all concerned, compassionate Americans should seriously be asking ourselves, our elected, civil, social, community and religious leaders is, what real, substantial changes in our society’s attitude and laws need to occur to prevent abuse that often causes young kids to mature into depressed, frustrated, angry teens and adults as a result of experiencing the *emotional and/or physical trauma of an abusive childhood?*

    Black *(Children’s)* Lives Matter; Take Pride In Parenting; *End Our National Epidemic of Child Abuse and Neglect*; End Community Violence, Police Fear & Educator’s Frustrations

  6. Comment by Mohita on November 25, 2015 at 12:13 am

    It’s upsetting to se that the top universities of the world are racist.

  7. Comment by Daniel Cortez on November 25, 2015 at 8:06 am

    AH, first world problems at its finest. A black kid in Chicago gets kills in what seems to be a true case of racism and you cray about micro aggressions at Yale. And lets forget about the women and girls being rapped and tortured by ISIS in the Middle East.

    Some days I really wounder why my father left Mexico.

  8. Comment by Intercâmbio e mais on November 25, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Omg, I had no idea that Yale’s University was racist… I am from Brazil and my dream was to get into Yale, but I always thought in an utopian way about it, so I couldn’t see this problem … I will research more about this, thank you for showing it 🙂

  9. Comment by Keith Cannon on November 25, 2015 at 10:49 am

    Well, as Thurston Howell the Third used to say when things got dicey on Gilligan’s Island…..
    HEAVENS LOVEY, A YALE MAN!!!!!
    They tried, back in 1935, to institute quotas to let more underprivledge and excluded people into Yale, but a certain group that made up half of the applicants to Yale (who had money to go to Yale in 1935, when the Great Depression was doing its worst?) got upset when Yale acccepted them as 6 percentl of the total accepted applicants…. when thiis group was less than 2 percent of the US population. That’s rigjt, even though the acceptance rate was three times the national rate, there was bitching and moaning and wailing and gnashing of teeth…. and Lawyers…
    And this group was well versed in moaning and teeth gnashing, and they had plenty of media ecposure so everyone would have to hear it….and plenty of lawyers…and bling bling bling….(Source: Ptofessor Griff)
    Apparently, the same money that let a group that was 2 percent of the population be 50 percent of the applicants (in the depths of the Great Depression no less) spoke louder than equality because the quotas were deemed racist and…. what’s that other word they used?…. anyway, the quotas were temoved and rich, spoiled brats got to have their way…. Apparently the legacy of that decision lives on. Thanks for your honesty, I hope you appreciate mine.

  10. Comment by fashionrevolutionbyprinc on November 25, 2015 at 2:11 pm

    Follow me! Thanks!

  11. Comment by Beesan on November 26, 2015 at 12:38 am

    What a powerful and eloquent article. This quote: “One’s experience of systemic racism is rarely one singular flash fire but a series of slow, agonizing burns that accumulate over time,” resonated with me perfectly. I am not even a woman of colour, but I am half Palestinian of a mixed marriage (mom is european decent). Oh, and I am Muslim. It was a problem well before 9-11, don’t let the media fool you. I look like a white woman. But, as soon as my name came out, that was it: questions must be asked, glances must be taken, comments must be made. And, that was well before 9-11. Before 9-11, I was given an opportunity to work abroad, and I took it. I took it because I am soft, and the slow burn was getting to me. I didn’t want to take it anymore. So, I left the US. And, now, 15 years later, I am not sure I can ever go back to The States. Living and raising children abroad is not my ideal situation either, but I feel I have no choice now. At this point I feel like I have lost the country of my father’s birth, and I have lost the country of my mother’s birth as well as my own. I float. Looking for a place to call home, knowing I will never find it.

  12. Comment by Sarah on November 28, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    This is absolutely ridiculous. If you are really that sensitive and cry “racism” so easily, then you are never going to be successful in this country.

    We live in a country that gives us free speech. That means that people are allowed to think and feel however they want to. You don’t get to control others just because what they say “hurts your feelings”.

    No one controls your feelings but you. Why give ignorant people the power to hurt you?

    Because we all have different experiences and different ways of thinking, people often misinterpret others. If someone says something that hurts your feelings, instead of calling them a racist, why don’t you find some courage and try communicating with them?

    You don’t have the right to force others to agree with your point of view. We are a free country. I am tired of hearing about people destroying the lives of innocent people because of their “feelings”.

    Feelings mean nothing. Everyone has different feelings and they really don’t have any validity. Your feelings are created by your thoughts, and they can easily be changed by changing the way you think.

    So stop falsely accusing people of racism. It is horribly selfish and destructive to our society.

    I am not going to stand by and allow my country to be ruined by the brain washed members of my generation.

  13. Comment by Dan Feidt on December 14, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    This is a really good piece and I’m glad it’s out there. Only suggestion is reconsider using the term ‘micro-aggression’ which has only really been known outside certain academic circles in the last 4 years (take a look at Google trends, nobody searched for it before 2010). The prefix “micro” makes some readers perceive the situations described as intrinsically petty (when they are definitely not). What are the tradeoffs between using a term like ‘microaggression’ and one which in earlier years might be described as ‘rude and driven by structural bias’ or similar? ‘Microaggression’ terminology also carries with it such severity that when applied it can be used to turn people of similar classes against each other and that means it could be a potent tool for accelerating intra-class conflict, which ultimately might be the biggest problem with the term.

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