Monday, December 9, 2013

Inside Higher Ed: A Semester of Racial Tensions

In this semseter alone, racial tensions on college campuses have hit the news media as specific incidents (racial harassment at San Jose State University; graduate students of color sit-in at UCLA; blackface and ghetto fraternity parties at public institutions; and Being Black at Michigan Twitter campaign at the University of Michigan) sadly revealed that we do not live in a post-racial society. While these incidents may be shocking to some Americans, it is not surprising to African American faculty and students, who often feel isolated, alienated, ostralized, and discriminated against on college campuses. Inside Higher Ed interviewed Spelman College president and race relations expert, Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum. Here were some of the interview questions in the article:

Q: When authorities charged white San Jose State University students with tormenting a black student for months, many were shocked that this could have gone on for so long with no one noticing or intervening -- even when the students allegedly hung up photos of Hitler and the Confederate flag. Were you shocked that this could happen on a college campus?

Q: Also this fall, we have seen black students at the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Michigan use social media to voice frustrations with their relatively low numbers and the way they are perceived. What does it say to you that these students feel the need to use social media to draw attention to their concerns -- and that they have been so successful in in fact getting attention in this way?

Q: We have also seen this fall -- as we seem to every fall -- a series of parties with offensive racially charged themes, followed by apologies in which party organizers appear surprised the the use of blackface or "ghetto" themes is offensive. Why is it possible for college students today to be unaware that such actions will offend?

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