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Why Does Racism Continue to Rear it’s Vicious Head (of All Places) in the Academy?

Op/Ed By Howard Eagle –


howard newThe recent, outstandingly-vitriolic, public statement via Twitter by a very youthful, white, male, Monroe Community College (M.C.C.) student is important and instructive, on several levels (

First, we can be certain, and many of us need to stop denying that the racist tweet is but one more example of clear, research-backed-evidence that, in general, white, so-called “millennials” hold deep-seated, white-supremacist-based attitudes and belief-systems, which are as pervasive, if not more so than those that existed among their parents and/or grandparents (so-called “generation x,” and/or “baby-boomers”). This is instructive (if for no other reason), in the sense that people of color ought to think very seriously about teaching, and/or allowing others to teach our children that white, racist, attitudes and belief-systems are much-improved among their peers (as opposed to past generations). That’s not what tons of research-based evidence shows.  ETC…. ETC…ETC…

This is important because I imagine people of color wouldn’t want to fill their children with idealistic, false, hope — only to later, have it shattered by the thoroughly-entrenched, deep-seated, pervasive, ongoing reality of the tripartite beast and illness (

Secondly, the recent incident at M.C.C. represents an exemplary model of how those in charge of the academy frequently, almost reflexively it seems, react to such situations in ways that are steeped in reductionist, avoidance, and suppression tactics. For example, consider M.C.C.’s president Anne Kress’s purely-stupendously-idiotic (in the original meaning of the term) question regarding the hard-core-racist-student-culprit. What in the world is she talking about regarding her half-slick, thoroughly offensive, denial-laden question: “Where did we not help this student understand that inclusiveness, collaboration, integrity, excellence, all of that matters at M.C.C.?” — WHAT??? (

It’s scandalous that (of all people) the president of the college is willing to play an insultingly-silly game of pretending that we are not intelligent enough to understand that this is NOT about M.C.C. so-called “not helping this [hard-core-racist] student understand that inclusiveness, collaboration, integrity, excellence matters.” The truth of the matter is that  — way more than likely — this student was a hard-core, white-supremacist, bigoted-racist (way before he arrived at M.C.C.) — otherwise, what could possibly explain him thinking/believing that it would be acceptable, and not possibly cause a serious problem — to openly display a confederate flag in an environment such as M.C.C.? Of course, his subsequent reaction confirms that his hardcore, white-supremacist attitude and belief-system did not begin when he arrived at M.C.C. Way more than likely (like millions of others) — it was embedded deeply within his psychic (from the crib up).

It is also typical for administrations within the academy to react to this type of situation by hastily throwing together, usually suppression-and-diffusion-oriented, so-called “President’s Advisory Committees,” or something very similar, which almost always have the same or similar charge, i.e., to ” foster greater diversity and inclusion at the school,” which of course rarely happens. If Dr. Kress and others really want to do something that matters relative to the tripartite beast and illness, how about pushing the idea of a requisite “Impact of Individual, Institutional, and Structural Racism in Education” Course, attached to ALL degree programs (you know, the way courses like English 101 are attached to ALL degree programs)? Such a move probably would not eliminate every, confederate-hate-symbol-carrying-Johnny-Reb, but I’m certain that over the long run, the impact would be much greater than fruitless “results” produced by so-called “President’s Advisory Committees” (for decades and decades). Perhaps this is something students should push for.

Thirdly, it rarely fails that when this type of situation occurs in the academy, administrators will almost always seek out someone of color, who is usually regarded as, or assumed to be a race-relations “expert” — sometimes the administration won’t even have to seek out such persons — they will just present themselves. Their role is usually, generally, always the same, i.e., to be a model of chronically passive behavior, and a cooler-heads-prevail-type-voice-of-reason (think — the Late Rodney King type voice –- ).

It appears that this phenomenon was present regarding the M.C.C. situation. That is to say, as it relates to openly displaying the Confederate flag, at an academic institution, which has significant Black and brown student populations — people can play that old, tired, worn-out Constitutional-rights-game, which was/is apparently being pushed by the likes of “Christopher Otero [who reportedly] teaches at the college, [as] an English professor.” Otero reportedly “said there isn’t enough focus on the person who damaged the confederate flag in the first place.”

So, let me see if I have this straight — in an academic environment, the institution should teach Black and brown folks that — even though they know the confederate flag is a symbol of racism and hatred — hard-core, white-supremacist, bigoted-racists have a right to display it openly, and it should be ignored — did I get it right??? Otero also reportedly said: “Unless our communities collectively own what was wrong to begin with and where we overstepped our bounds on both sides, we’re not going to grow.” — WHAT???   “… what was wrong to begin with and where we overstepped our bounds on both sides???” What in the world does the latter quote mean? The quote represents the epitome of contortion, distortion, and gross-conflation of issues. Indeed, let’s talk about and “collectively own what was wrong to begin with” (as an important historical footnote — let’s remember that M.C.C. was founded in 1961, and the “second flag of the Confederate States of America,” which is the one that we’re discussing, was created in May of 1863 — indeed let’s “collectively own what was wrong to begin with”). Also, based on quotes in the article, I’m not clear as to what it is that Mr. Otero is expecting students/people to “grow” into — hopefully not half, nor ill, nor mis-educated, ‘intellectual’ zombies — as opposed to laser-like-critical-and-analytical-THINKING-machines.

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