Locked out? Black? Tough!

The scene: I stand outside my entryway, shivering in a t-shirt as the first real snowstorm of winter descended upon the northeast. I had done it again—run outside to do something random and unimportant, and in the process, had forgotten my wallet and ID in my room. Luckily, I saw a fellow Davenporter walking my direction who was sure to come to my rescue.

I put on my nicest “I-know-you-don’t-know-me-but-could-you-let-me-in-this-door, please?” voice as I asked him to admit me entry. He looked at me, my arms folded across my chest for warmth and the vapor of my breath visible as I spoke, and dryly stated: “Oh, I’m sorry. I’m not in Davenport” as he walked past. End scene.

So, normally, I wouldn’t make such a big deal about this, but LIES! Not only did I know he was in Davenport because he’s my year and we lived in the same entryway in Welch freshman year, but I’m also a Master’s Aide and just last week, I sent him the e-mail to come pick up his package from the office.

This incident got me thinking — flashback to freshman year. The scene: I stood outside of Welch Entryway A, having gone to meet the pizza delivery guy at Phelps Gate. My new Yale ID of which I was so proud was locked in my suite; therefore, I was locked out. Two freshmen came out of Entryway C, and as they passed, I asked them to let me in (probably in the same voice, but a little lighter since I was younger) and, for the first of many times, was denied admission into a Yale door: “Sorry. We’re not in Welch.” That time, I had to call security, and the pizza was cold by the time they got there.

Experiencing this on my way in as a freshman and on my way out as a senior really made me realize how my Yale experience has come full circle. It also made me realize that despite how liberal and diverse our community is and claims to be, we still have many issues that we need to overcome.

My friends and I often tell each other “lockout horror stories” and laugh half-heartedly about how one of our experiences was worse than the others’ or it was actually the “death of our existence”. I suppose that normally, this would be funny — except all my friends who share these stories happen to be black.

Now, as a young, successful black man at a predominantly white institution, I’ve learned to be careful about playing the race card, and I don’t think I’ve ever done it during my time at Yale. Even when I think I’m being mistreated due to my race, I avoid bringing in race as an issue because I don’t want to be characterized as that “angry black man.” In fact, that nice voice I use when asking someone to let me into an entryway was designed specifically for that purpose: to be non-threatening. I guess it doesn’t work.

Part of me wants to give the perpetrators of this crime the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps because I was in my sweatpants and carrying a big boom box that one time — because I had just come from dance class — meant I didn’t “look” like I “go” here. Or maybe those classmates and dorm mates of mine really didn’t recognize me. But what about those times when I was carrying a backpack with the same textbooks as you were carrying? And what about when I addressed you by your first name because we sit across from each other in section, and I know you have access but still didn’t let me in? What is really going on here? I just have to ask: Is this happening to me because I’m BLACK? If I were WHITE, would you let me in?

I think it’s interesting that when racist cartoons are published in campus publications, or racist epithets are spray painted on the “safe spaces” in which we live, or costumes supporting racial stereotypes are worn, our campus community goes up in arms. We have rallies, protests, panels and even summer “diversity” reading (see “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria,” the class of 2011 summer reading assignment). Let us not forget that our actions each and every day can be as hurtful and divisive as those outwardly racist actions. Don’t make any one specific event the poster child for the Yale anti-racism movement; make that movement a part of our fabric everyday. Those events referenced above are clear cut hate crimes, but perhaps being denied entrance into a Yale building for no apparent reason other than one’s skin should be categorized as one, too.

Surely with the recent spate of theft, we should all be mindful of protecting ourselves and our peers. I know that even I personally am more cautious about locking my doors (probably why I lock myself out so much!). But the next time someone asks you to let them into an entryway, think about it for a second before you dismiss their request. If you do decide to deny them entrance, be sure that it’s for a sound reason and not because you’re categorizing and stereotyping an individual based on the color of his skin or the way he is dressed.

Our campus community would be much better for it.

Comments

  • Anonymous

    Vernon,

    That guy who wouldn't let you in sounds like a complete jerk, and that's a really awful story. I'm sorry to hear it happened. Unfortunately, though, I don't think it will be the last time anyone at Yale tells a story like that.

    Why? (This is something I've wanted to say for a really long time; I'm a senior). Basically, the way that Yale handles security in the residential colleges is BS. It is both unsafe and encourages racism.

    Essentially, Yale's residential colleges have no security whatsoever. The key card system is a joke. Anybody can walk in at any time. This is particularly unfortunate and dangerous given that we're in a very poor city where we Yale students conspicuously display wealth every day. Anyone who has been to Penn or Columbia, other urban schools in (somewhat) shady areas, knows that they have unbelievably tight security at all their dorms. Try getting into Penn's Quad (their old campus) - you have to go through a security check where you show an ID. In contrast, our system might contribute to a quaint, friendly feeling, but it is absurdly and needlessly dangerous.

    So what happens when someone's room gets broken into? Well, first we get a completely unhelpful email from Chief Perrotti. Then, perhaps, if the theft occurred in our own college, we get another email from the Master, saying something like, "I urge all of you to exercise vigilance."

    Here, then, comes the racism. What the hell does that mean, "exercise vigilance?" Well, now that we're speaking honestly, let's admit it: It's code for "Keep out those who look like they don't belong/those who look like they're going to rob you." Unfortunately, as everyone here knows, that will be interpreted by 95% of students as "black people." I don't have the figures in front of me, but I don't think it takes a rocket scientist (or a social scientist) to figure out that most of the theft in a city with a very large, poor African-American population is committed by African-Americans (we can debate this point til we're blue in the face, but I promise you, at the end of the day, the common perception is that most theft here is committed by black people).

    Therefore, Yale - via the Masters - puts ALL students in a bizarre position: We are supposed to be responsible for our own safety. Well, guess what? We're not security guards or police officers, but (most of us) are rational thinkers. So, the unfortunate reality, is that Yale students (of every race, I imagine) end up "exercising vigilance" by viewing unfamiliar black faces trying to gain entry into colleges with suspicion. Hence, your unfair and unfortunate story.

    This situation sucks for everyone. It sucks for the myriad black students, professors, and staff, who are made to feel like outsiders and criminals. And it sucks for ALL students, who have no goddamn clue how to "exercise vigilance" in our constantly-robbed-but-still-unprotected colleges without resorting to racial profiling. This situation is shameful, but it's unbelievably obvious!

    How do we solve this?

    Well, like it or not, if we're really serious about not having any more situations like this, we need to totally redo college security in the Penn/Columbia model:

    Every entrance to every residential college must have security guards checking IDs (this will necessitate closing gates in colleges like Silliman that have three or four). Over time, the guards will (hopefully) become familiar with the students, and passing through won't be so onerous. The process will be 100% race blind, and the burden to "exercise vigilance" will not be on students - who should never have to conduct security enforcement in the first place.

    Everybody will say that this plan sucks, but it's literally this way or the anything-goes, "vigilance exercising" that - as we can see - hasn't really been working out too well for anyone.

    Sorry for rambling, but I think this is important, and I'm surprised that no one has seriously suggested this sooner.

  • Anonymous

    I don't know you, don't want to cast stones; however… Your year; your college: why didn't you know him? Not saying "why wasn't he your best friend," but..uh…is it possible that you keep a pretty low profile? Cluster with other A-A kids?

    Was the other dporter a "jerk" or just plain didn't recognize you? Seriously, why is he unfamiliar with a Master's Aide?

    And while I understand the unfairness--if you are going to bring in race, shouldn't you also examine New Haven? Would YOU let in a black male that YOU didn't recognize?

    Is it possible that New Haven's reality feeds what you perceive as racism?

    I started to write "by the way, if the guy DID recognize you and STILL didn't let you in…" but that is just absurd, and I refuse to accept that ANY Yalie would purposely and openly diss a fellow Yalie that way.

    As for the guard idea: forget it; Yale has too many overpaid/underworked union drudges as it is. Better to get thumbprint system.

  • Anonymous

    This column is too quick to attribute this to a race issue, especially when the columnist does not provide end results of situations with white men and other races locked out.

  • Anonymous

    There are some good points across the board, so let's not rush to point fingers in either direction.

    1. Yale's college security system does put students in the odd position of having to make snap decisions about their peers' security. If citizens had to screen each other before boarding planes, we might see similarly hasty (and, perhaps, similarly offensive) judgments made against Arab-Americans.

    2. I also find it unlikely that a Yalie would refuse entry to another Yalie. Far more likely that he didn't recognize you, Vernon, for whatever reason. I don't know all my college Master's Aides--not even those I've interacted with.

    Both points, though, do suggest an underlying dynamic with a racial component. Racism? Maybe. Racial profiling? Almost certainly. Not knowing you, the Dporter formed a set of assumptions--or refused to--VERY likely based in some part on your race.

    A thought experiment: What if you weren't black? What if you were a white student in crummy clothes, someone who didn't correspond to the Dporter's mental portrait of a Yalie? Would that snap judgment be similarly offensive?

    Of course there are disturbing implications either way: That many Yale students associate status with ethnicity and socioeconomic signals, for one. At the same time, by the numbers, they're right: Most Yale students are white and upper-class. And yet, by almost any moral metric, including mine, this Davenporter's actions were wrong.

  • Anonymous

    Ok, let's say our Dporter really didn't recognize Vernon. I don't think the point was that the Dporter knew for sure he was a Yalie, the point was he did not give Vernon the benefit of the doubt. I have seen, with my own eyes, enough examples of non-black students sitting in front of an entryway asking complete strangers for entrance and receiving it with no questions asked. Anonymous poster (10:40) says Vernon hasn't provided cases of white student lock-outs. Guess why that is 10:40? It very rarely, if ever, happens. As a Dominican, I am of mixed heritage but I look European enough to get by fine. However, even I find that depending on the state of my tan and the clothes I'm wearing I receive different reactions when entering Yale facilities. You may be thinking, "but I was standing out front of a college with [insert black friend] and we didn't have any trouble." Guess what, when in proximity to white faces this issue is invisible. In fact, your very presence precludes you from ever bearing witness to this unless, of course, you are the perpetrator.

    As for the "white student with crummy clothes" experiment, it's been done. It's not the clothes.

    As for the "take New Haven into account," I could be knee-deep in Jena and I wouldn't walk around treating every white face I saw like a noose-hanging racist.

    And apologists, get some backbone and sign your posts. Anonymous debates don't serve anyone.

    Luís Medina
    SY 09

  • Anonymous

    Luis, should we give everyone who looks 18-22 the "benefit of the doubt"? Or are you suggesting we should just try to be more race-blind in making these instantaneous judgment calls?

  • Anonymous

    Luis Medina says:

    "However, even I find that depending on the state of my tan and the clothes I'm wearing I receive different reactions when entering Yale facilities."

    "As for the 'white student with crummy clothes' experiment, it's been done. It's not the clothes."

    Contradiction?

  • Anonymous

    No, I'm not white. Mystery solved!

  • Anonymous

    The anonymity of the internet too often leads to a devolution of debate. Luis is correct that anonymous debates do no good, especially on sensitive issues such as these; if you truly believe in your opinion you should be courageous enough to put your name down. How can you respond to part of the content of Luis' comments, but completely ignore his appeal to your backbone? It does weakness to your own arguments, 5:45 and 7:16, that you choose to respond with anonymity while rebutting Luis.

  • Anonymous

    Luis and Dariush: I have to admit that I'm concerned by the insistence on "grow(ing) some backbone and sign(ing one's) posts." Unless you're planning on continuing this discussion with the commenter via another medium (certainly a nice gesture but not a necessary one, especially if not everyone involved in the conversation wants to continue it), I don't see why it's so necessary that you know exactly who he/she is.

    In fact, I find it a bit disturbing, given that it's sometimes possible to guess someone's race given a first name and last initial (especially if that makes it easier to Facebook him/her). While I think that everyone who comments on this article ought to think about how his/her own race has colored perceptions and experiences, I really don't think that calling someone out after the fact who doesn't do that is at all effective. Often it gets interpreted as a brushoff--"You couldn't possibly understand, you're white"--even if it's not intended that way at all.

    It's impossible to have a discourse on race if participants are claiming that they're the only ones who actually understand what's going on (or if others think that's what they're claiming). If someone doesn't want his/her comments to be judged by his/her race, that might be a valid enough reason for them to post anonymously. I certainly don't see why it's so important that everyone participating in this dialogue volunteer a name in light of that.

  • Anonymous

    I'd just like to point out that, once in a while, in my whipping duties for my party, people have given me weird looks and hesitated before letting me into buildings. I've also occasionally gotten people telling me they weren't in such-and-such college. I'm a small white female, and I look pretty damned nerdy. I'm not saying race isn't an issue, it is- but clearly not the only one.

    While it sucks being locked out and not having access to buildings, it's something we have to deal with for now. I think the security guard idea is pretty lame. A better idea is to LOCK YOUR SUITES AND YOUR ROOMS. Sheesh.

  • Anonymous

    Dara, thanks for bringing an interesting and well thought out point to the table.

    Someone wanting their comments to be judged on merit but not on race is a legitimate reason to desire anonymity.

    That being said, anonymity is too often the refuge of racism. When people put up graffiti the perpetrator was faceless, hate pamphlets put into lockers in my high school were done by an unknown person. Putting your name down when discussing race ensures that you are willing to enter into the public sphere, outside of the shadows, and that you truly are willing to stand by your words. Being willing to put your name next to your words is not only a safeguard against a degradation of the dialogue but also increases the probability of thought going into the posts. I would point out that your post was very well thought out, even if I disagree with it, and that some of the anonymous ones are somewhat half-baked.

    Everyone comes to the conversation on race with their own perspective. While you say "its impossible to have a discourse on race if participants are claiming that they're the only ones who actually understand what's going on," I think it's important for every person involved to be mindful of the limited perspective that they embody--regardless of race. While the sentiment that "you'll never get it you're white" can be overused, it's true that the experience of being a minority is one that a member of the majority won't understand unless they take time and energy to do so. Intellectual considerations of how to keep campus safe or what it is like are nothing like the gut-level experience of being reminded of one's otherness, or of being treated differently because of it.

    Finally, I'd like to point out that my reasons for insisting on the anonymity question were the ones I gave above, and had nothing to do with brushing off someone's opinion based on their race.

  • Anonymous

    The security person at every gate has been suggested several times over the years. Each time it has been refused along with the idea of more cameras in the Old Campus area. That leaves security up to the residents of the colleges for these snap judgement calls. Lock your doors and judge carefully, if you're concerned help your fellow student contact security to get in. Race should not be a consideration, your own safety should be. And speaking of union drudges, the guards I found are the only non-union employees at the university.

  • Anonymous

    Well, the online registration system doesn't seem to want to let me sign up for an account, so it looks like I won't be able to "grow a backbone" in the way I would've liked.

    I know that we're capable of coming up with more accurate ways to determine whether someone goes to this school than racial profiling. So from now on, whenever someone (of any race, mind you) wants to be let in, I'll casually ask them to name one of their favorite classes (unless, of course, I already know the person). If they say something like "Early Modern England," or "Intro Cogsci", or (god forbid) "Complex Analysis," I can conclude that they're probably a Yale student. If they say, "umm…math," then my suspicions might be aroused.

    At the very least, this will screen out those burglars who have not researched how to effectively impersonate Yale students, leaving only the most talented and determined of criminals. And that's really what Yale is all about. My particular method also has the incidental benefit of suggesting classes for me to take next semester.

    In all seriousness, when someone refuses to let another Yalie in, and is unwilling to even ask a question like "What's your favorite class?" then it would seem that they are acting out of laziness, or something worse.

    -Mike Zink

  • Anonymous

    I am sorry that Vernon was treated in this manner; however, it's just a microcosm of what black men face daily in American society, and attendance at an Ivy League college, as well as intellectual brilliance (which he so obviously possesses) is no guarantee that one will not be racially profiled. Remember, it's driving while black, shopping while black, and ultimately breathing, walking and talking while black. THis doesn't shift the blame away from those who inflict such wounds on African-Americans, and writing is fighting. Keep fighting the good fight.

  • Anonymous

    I do feel bad that this happened to you.It is awful that people stereo type but I do have to say this, Look at the crime in new haven and the race of the majority of people committing crimes in new haven,I am sorry to say but its your own race that are making people react this way.Correct?? Again, I am sorry this happened to you.

  • Anonymous

    I don't have time, nor do I have the overt desire to perform the function of a police investigator every time someone wants in my entryway.

    Listen folks- this is New Haven.

    There is a ton of crime: theft + violence.

    There is a large black population.

    If someone is unfamiliar, I assume they are from New Haven.

    If they are unfamiliar, I assume they aren't from Yale and thus have no good reason to be there by themselves.

    If they are unfamiliar and black, I am not going to just let them in. Any chance that something could happen and I'm not letting them in.

    They can use their keycards to get in the colleges.
    They can wait until their friends come let them in entryways.

    If they don't have a key card and are alone- sorry, I'm not taking the risk.

    Self-preservation trumps all this stupid politically correct garbage. I have a right to feel safe and unburdened walking into my dorm.

  • Anonymous

    Hey Vernon, welcome to reality, "brother." I went to Yale, and no matter what you're wearing or not, if you're black, you are ALWAYS considered with suspicion in every part of the campus! Stop being surprised. Learn this lesson well, because it's not going to change.

    When you leave Yale with your sheepskin, doors will continue to literally shut in your face - because you are a black man first and forsemost! People will not see your Yale degree that you fought and sacrificed so hard for. The first thing they will notice is your black skin. So stop expecting sympathy from little white students most of whom are fully imbued with senses of fear, superiortiy and racism. Once you recognise this, you'll be better equiped to handle such experiences. You'll stop asking to be let in, and just walk in!

  • Anonymous

    I just always let everyone in… it makes life more exciting.

  • Anonymous

    The last two posters -- the ones who are attempting to rationalize racial profiling -- simply don't get it. While it is permissible to make judgments based upon "conduct" making judgments based upon stereotypes, etc., is racist.

    Would you let in a white person with whom you were unfamiliar or would you make the racist assumption/calculus in your mind that because he or she is white, he or she "must" be a Yale student and must ergo, belong there; however, conversely, if it's an African-American student, he or she must be a resident of New Haven and ergo, he or she can't be a Yale student, and you aren't going to let him or her in.

    Maybe you racist a-holes should take the time to get to know the people who live in your residential colleges, or are they simply "invisible" to you by dint of the color of their skin? (students of color). If you did that, then that would go far in mitigating the problem discussed above.

  • Anonymous

    I do not doubt that you feel this way 10:08, but what happens when the criminal, as was the case in Chief Perroti's last email, is white? You just let them in based on a simplistic judgement call. Don't tell me you don't have the time, because it you have the time to say "I'm not in this college," you have time to say "Do you go to Yale?" Fewer syllables even. You've already saved yourself a fraction of a second. What I agree you don't have is the desire. The desire to look beyond simplistic racial judgements to get to the core of New Haven's socio-economic problem. So students save themselves the trouble of putting themselves out there for Vernon, but I know they'll swipe in Mr. White.

    Well, at least Vernon will be safely outside when it all goes down.

    Best regards,
    Luís Medina

  • Anonymous

    You are right, Luis.

    I have no desire to play police investigator or campus security guard.

    I just don't give a sh't. It's not my problem. If you want into a college, get someone you know to let you in.

    Otherwise- I am going to protect myself as I see fit- if that means being racist- fine- I don't care. I just don't care.

    Save your protests and letters to the editor- people need to protect themselves and only they are qualified to judge how best to do that.

  • Anonymous

    Alright, have fun being racist then. What else can I say?

    Lu

  • Anonymous

    You know what, I've let black men into my dorm before and it's been fine… Color is NOT a good indicator!

    If you walk around New Haven enough, as in get out of your Yale bubble, you can distinguish between different populations. I can usually tell when someone looks suspicious and it usually has more to do what they wear… Although I did see a black male student wearing clothes like he was homeless, seriously, you're just making yourself look suspicious whoever you are… I notice more how people are wearing clothes and what they're wearing… Yale students DO tend to dress differently, even the black Yale students!

    In short, don't judge on color, use common sense! If it's past 10 pm at night, you shouldn't be letting in any strange people you don't know!

    It has NOTHING to do with color… There are LOTS of black men here at Yale, and there are plenty of suspicious white men around New Haven too that I wouldn't let in at night… Use common sense!

  • Anonymous

    Thank 4:52 - and people say that racism doesn't exist at Yale! Yep - not at all . . .

  • Anonymous

    I have trouble believing the writer forgot to grab his wallet and ID before he went out because he is black. I'm sure many white students have done the same thing.

  • Anonymous

    Hey my name is Jamilah (clearly I'm posting anonymously because I'm lazy and it's 3:00 am)

    Just a few things:

    Anonymous 9:36, he did not forget his wallet because he was black, I think you need to read the article again.

    I am a proud resident of New Haven and a Yale student! NEW HAVEN IS MAJORITY WHITE!!!!! Check the statistics.

    It takes less energy to lock your door than to racially profile.

    I am happy that people are "anoymously" admitting that they do stereotype and do profile so I don't ever want to hear that racism doesn't exist on this campus again.

    The importance of this article is not about getting locked out (don't be sorry for that) but about NOT being let in.

    A key aspect of the article and the phenomenon of being "locked out while black" is the symbolic aspect of the action. As a Black Yale student, am told that I am afforded equal rights and opportunities at this universities. Yet, the same stereotype/assumption that can keep me from gaining access to an entryway, can also impact my grade in a seminar, my position on a team sport, my assigned role in a play, and so on. Can you really imagine what it feels like for your own entry way door to be purposely shut in your face while you search for your key in your purse? For your mother to come to visit and someone ask her what time the dining hall opens? For college residents to call security on you while you don your laundry? To be called a nigger in your own dorm room? This is my reality and the reality of many people that I know on campus. I cannot simply be a Yale student, I cannot simply walk merrily into the gym without flashing my id. I am constantly reminded of my blackness, my “otherness.” It is not fair, it is racist, I do not pay tuition to be discriminated against, and I do not have to accept it. That is my position.

    News Flash: White Male Purse Snatcher on the Loose! Be cautious. Don’t let any white men into your entryways without proper identification.

  • Anonymous

    What I don't get about this debate is, usuallu people wait near the door to be let in, and then when someone else gets in, they follow. Is anyone actually telling people "No, you can't follow me in the courtyard when I open the door?" Then wat if the guy follows anyway, what do you do then? It just seems a strang debate because during my four years at Yale people would always get in that way and it wasn't even a big deal.

  • Anonymous

    "they follow. Is anyone actually telling people "No, you can't follow me in the courtyard when I open the door?""

    Actually, yes. Seems absurd, right? But I've seen people yank doors closed really fast, no questions asked, or pretend they don't see anyone knocking on the door and keep walking, or once they see a black man waiting at the door, they turn and use a different door. (Since Swing Space is all glass, you could actually see all this happening.) At best, someone asks who the other person is before letting them in, but the way it's phrased is also telling. One of my friends, while wearing a Yale shirt and holding a door open, was asked if he "belonged" there…by the master of a college.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous 2:59, you have clearly missed the point of the comment made by Anonymous 9:36.

    It is silly that the writer claims he is hesitant to pull the "race card" and then proceeds to blame whitey for not letting him in. The article seethes with hypocrisy and racism.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, New Haven is majority white.

    But look at the crime- Perotti's old email alerts were enough to justify it in my mind.

    The question that needs to be asked is if racism is always bad?

    Sorry- it's the same bull with airport security. It's Muslims! Search them! I'm middle class, white, college aged- let me on the plane.

    This politically correct crud is wasting everyone's time.

    If a crime happens in New Haven/Yale the person is usually a minority.

    The poster above put it well: self-preservation trumps social taboos.

  • Anonymous

    "The poster above put it well: self-preservation trumps social taboos."

    Burping in public is a social taboo. Leaving the house without pants is a social taboo. Racism is not.

    -- Camille

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for that post Jamilah, I don't think the personal pain and damage that comes from racism can be understated. It's easy to glibly state that racism is the best solution, but not only is it incredibly damaging to the lives of others, it's also extremely dangerous to your personal well-being.

    Anonymous 6:16, what do the "Muslims" you're referring to look like? I'm assuming you're implying that they are Arab, which ignores that fact that Islam is practiced by people from Southeast Asia to North America. Beyond that, there are enough high profile cases of white, middle class, college-aged students being radicalized by fundamentalist Islam and conspiring with groups like Al-Qaeda to invalidate that point. Because radical Muslim terrorists are a small, multi-ethnic, and socio-economically diverse group, you can't simplify the problem as a racial or ethnic one. There's more at play and there's more at stake than that.

    You're also ignoring the numerous domestic Christian terrorist groups in this country, and the long history of young white male serial killers and mass bombers in this country. What if Timothy McVeigh had decided to blow up a plane instead of the Federal Building in Oklahoma City? Should the guards have shuffled him through because he was white?

    Once again the point stands that when you stereotype based on race, you not only miss the real problems but you are flagrantly ignoring reality for the sake of a simplistic and comfortable world view.

    So cut the "self-preservation trumps social taboos" foolishness. It only proves your ignorance.

    Luís Medina

    P.S. Jamilah, I didn't mean that everyone should have to register. Putting a name to your post is really enough, it shows that you care enough about your words to back them up with your identity. It's a gesture, more than anything.

  • Anonymous

    I think that these arguments totally miss the point. Yale keeps us from going into entryways in order to preserve the residential college "atmosphere," if this was not the case students would only be allowed into their entryway. Yalies should not let strangers into the old campus or residential college gates. They should also lock their doors if they are worried about crime. It also misses the point that probably the "racist" students didn't want to go out of their way to let someone into an entryway; they were in a rush but didn't want to say "I can't do it right now." It could have been racism but it is silly for the author to assume it as such.
    Racial profiling is equally misguided. I am wondering why a mugger would ever come into a residence quad, it's just about the most foolish place in the world to rob or mug someone because there is such a huge chance of being caught. Furthermore, I struggle to think of a time when I have ever even seen 18-22 year old townies on old campus or other quads. To not let someone into an entryway who appears 22 years old would not be based on fact-based assumptions of group characteristics, but instead on pure racial animus.

  • Anonymous

    God, this sucks. And it sucks even more that people are defending doing it so outrageously. Y'know, it's one thing to be like, 'Oops, sorry, I really didn't think you looked like you go here [because you're black]," and another and entirely worse thing to be like, "Hell YES, I'm not going to let any black people I don't personally know into the college." That was a paraphrase, but to remind you, the actual quote from your friend and mine, 10:08, was "If they are unfamiliar and black, I am not going to just let them in."

    10:08 has also said that s/he has "a right to feel…unburdened." The burden of…what? Guilt for not letting this person in? If that's so, perhaps 10:08 should consider why they do feel burdened with guilt or the "racist" tag. If they really don't care, then it shouldn't bother them at all, and certainly not to the point of burdening them. If it's not the burden of guilt, then I honestly haven't the faintest, and do wish 10:08 would return to enlighten us as to what exactly is the burden of turning down entry to the unfamiliar black face. I'm very interested in how this would compare to other burdens I can more easily identify in this situation.

    --Sarah

  • Anonymous

    I love how liberals like Luis Medina, who consistently post the views of Yale's liberal majority, also keep asking that other people who post minority (i.e., conservative) views register. There is a reason why it is the liberals who always post their names; when people who express other views are deemed "racist" in the comments, you can expect that they will stay anonymous rather than be officially labelled as "racist" in everyday life.

  • Anonymous

    Luis, it is not very hard to sign your own name when you express views that 80% of the campus agrees with. If Yale was 90% conservative Republican instead of 90% liberal Democrat, I would sign my own name, and I venture to say that you would not feel quite as comfortable doing the same.

  • Anonymous

    You better believe I'd sign my name. I do it on the Washington Post's web site, where I'm usually in the minority, and on "conservative" blogs. I relish being in the minority; I've had a lifetime of practice. More importantly, I didn't call any person racist until they identified themselves as racist. I like to reserve that label for actions.

    But what does it mean if posters are afraid of being labelled a racist, after stating publicly that they feel comfortable being racist? If that's how they feel, then they should stand by that statement and inhabit it. It's their right to express their views, and it's my right to question them.

    You're severely overestimating the amount of Yalies who would identify themselves as liberal, let alone those who actively maintain "liberal" ideas. Furthermore, this isn't a liberal/conservative debate. I don't think people with politically conservative views are precluded from being actively tolerant, respectful, and anti-racist, so I'm not sure what liberal means in this context. It doesn't really have anything to do with liberalism per se, so what are we really talking about? Compassionate ideas? Progressive ideas? Ideas that seek to dismantle an us/them paradigm?

    Luís Medina

  • Anonymous

    Liberal or not, Yale is the only place I've ever lived in my entire life where I haven't heard a single negative comment about homosexuality.

  • Anonymous

    That's excellent, I'm really happy to hear that.

  • Anonymous

    So this debate has become a bit divided. As a Yale grad of Indian descent with a view that I think lies somewhere in the middle, I'd love to get both sides take on it.

    I think "profiling" is a part of life. We all do it all the time when it pertains to safety; walking alone at night, in certain areas, etc. But in doing this, I think the criteria used by many (& that I used at Yale) include size, gender, age, garb, demeanor, and time of day. For example, if I saw a 5'3" teenage girl, wearing a Yale t-shirt & flip-flops, in broad daylight, who smiled sheepishly asking me to let her into a residential college, I'd let her in without thinking twice about it. Regardless of race.

    Conversely, if I saw a 6'5" large man, mid 20s, dressed in layers of clothing, at night, who approached me quietly/angrily/gruffly about letting him in, the odds are I'd pretend not to hear him and keep walking. Regardless of race.

    Now I agree that all cases aren't that clear cut, but we're often conditioned (either fairly / unfairly) for one reason or another to put people in the safe/unsafe camp depending on circumstances.

    For example, post 9/11, I had lots of Indian friends complain to me that they were often asked to undergo additional security at the airport. Even though this was very rare for them pre 9/11. Was this a case of "racial profiling" or just "profiling?" They'd argue the former, but my experience indicates the latter. My view was that people of brown skin color did commit a terrible terrorist attack against this country. And given fear and safety issues, the gov't would naturally profile this population. But it wasn't all about race. The other factors I mentioned above (gender, demeanor, etc) also played a HUGE role. Every time I flew post 9/11, I made sure to shave, wear nicer clothes, and smile. And guess what? I was never screened for special security until last year. Because terrorists aren't often dressed in nice clothes, smiling and talking politely with airport personnel.

    Now while one can argue that I shouldn't have had to do this, I didn't mind at all. I knew the TSA was trying to protect all of our safety. And the fact that I wasn't screened for extra security shows me there was a lot more to the "profiling" than race.

    Bringing it back to New Haven, as a student walking around, at the times when I felt unsafe, the race of the person was often black (due to circumstance, population demographics) but not always. Did this make me more suspicious of letting a black student locked out of his college back in? I'm not sure. Maybe subconsciously to a degree. Should it have? I guess that's at the heart of the above debate. But I'll tell you what: those other non-racial factors made MUCH MUCH MUCH more of a difference when I chose whom to let it. And I think it did / does for many people.

    And as an added bit; let's try to listen and really understand other folks arguments here. The only way we'll get past conscious/unconscious racism is by talking openly about our views and making our counter-arguments based on logic. I know it's easier said than done, especially given what certain races have faced / continue to face in this country & around the world. But it's our best shot.

  • Anonymous

    The majority of the terrorists involved in 9/11 were doctors and professionals educated in the West. I imagine they too were well-dressed, shaved, and well-mannered. If someone is trying to hurt you, chances are they are going to do everything they can to make you feel comfortable and unsuspecting. Racial profiling is NOT an unavoidable inevitability, nor is it particularly useful for the maintenance of public safety. So I do mind if the TSA is racially profiling not only because of the injustice involved, but also because they're also putting my life in greater danger.

    Have a good break everybody.

    Luís Medina

  • Anonymous

    There is a big difference between racial profiling at airports and racial profiling in everyday life. In every situation, you need to weight the threat of harm with the degree of inconvenience to the person profiled.

    When it comes to airport profiling, we know that there are terrorists out there who want to do as much damage to America as they can. We also know that these terrorists are Muslims, and while Muslims can be of any race, the vast majority of the terrorists are also Arab. Given that the threat involves thousands of people dying, and that the inconvenience to the person profiled is fairly minor (15 minutes check that only happens when one needs to go to the airport), it seems more than reasonable to have a systematic profiling of all Arab-looking people at airports. Of course, there is also a (small) possibility that someone who is not Arab could be a terrorist, and for that reason we should also do random checks of people, regardless of race or appearance, but these random checks should be *in addition to* systematic checks of all people who meet the terrorist profile. And as Luis Medina correctly pointed out, many terrorists may dress with decent clothes; to me, this means that the checks really should be based on race and not just on he types of clothes.

    But when it comes to letting people in a Yale courtyard, we have a very different situation. First, the threat is not very high. There just aren't that many occurrences of New Haveners committing crimes on campus, let alone serious crimes. Second, while it is true that blacks commit more crime per capita, white people also commit a lot of crime. This is a different situation from terrorism: whereas Arabs/Muslims commit an overwhelming majority of terrorist acts, blacks do not similarly commit an overwhelming majority of domestic crimes. And third, the inconvenience for black students of being profiled all the time on a daily basis by their peers is fairly high, and certainly much worst than the inconvenience of being profiled only at a airport.

    I think that Vernon makes a very defensible point in his column, but when his supporters start talking about the evils of racial profiling at airports (which I really think is necessary for us to be safe), then they are losing my support.

  • Anonymous

    this opinion piece utterly fails on one major point, and that is that the "victim" , with unerring certainty, knows that the people who refused him entry into the were "racist". Why does the author assume that the people who refused him entry into the dorms knew he was a student? Maybe they don't know who you are (i know that's seems shocking, since you obviously consider yourself an important person)? Maybe they didn't recognize you..Maybe, even, they don't like you (no law saying they have to!).

    But to assume this is racist?? This is the "victimhood" mentality at work.

    At may points in life, you will be treated rudely, disrespectfully, ignored, passed over for promotion, or disliked…it happens all the time, it happens to everyone, but somehow, if it happens to the author of this piece, he "knows" it's because of racism….oh please….

    welcome to perpetual victimhood if you keep thinking like that.

    what is the answer? obviously, carry your doorcard..don't put yourself in a position where you have to depend upon the charitable actions of others, and when your stuck in a predicament of your own making, instead of becoming a "victim", try to learn something constructive from it (dress warmly in cold weather, carry your doorcard).

    Your a Yalie, your already ahead of 99.9% of the planet in terms of priviledge, access, opportunities..to somehow claim your a "victim" of racism sounds more like vanity and delusion…

  • Anonymous

    11:39 -

    Vernon very clearly addressed most of the possibilities you mentioned, weighing the likelihood of each and coming to a reasonable INFERENCE that race may have, consciously or not, been a factor in the differential treatment of a white versus a black student in the same situation. It is ludicrous to ignore that or, worse, to trivialize a serious debate about a societal problem by suggesting it can be fixed by remembering one's card. Oh yeah, also "your" a terrible speller.

  • Anonymous

    New Haven is actually majority-minority, although it's close. It just changed over in recent years.

  • Anonymous

    Anonymous 11:39, the first African-American to graduate from Yale graduated in 1876. That was just a decade after emancipation. All of his so-called privilege still couldn't buy him a seat on a bus or a table in a white-only restaurant. Until racism and racial thinking is eradicated, all privilege is fleeting for people of color.

    L.M.

  • Anonymous

    "I-know-you-don't-know-me-but-could-you-let-me-in-this-door, please?"

    Apparently, the author is stating in the opening line of his piece, that the person he is asking to let him in the dorm, doesn't know him…yet he states he knew the person (presumably by name, as he sent him an email), and feels convinced that the individual knew him…which is it?

    why didn't he ask him for assistance by name? why didn't he identify himself as having lived in the same entryway once? why didn't he mention the package? none of it makes sense…

    what trivializes the debate is to not explore the validity of the charge of racism. what is ludicrous is to elevate this to the level of a "societal problem"

    I'm still trying to figure out what the "societal problem" is when someone you state doesn't know you, won't let you into a locked dorm.

    to the spellchecker amongst us, try reading the piece again, and explain all the logical contradictions in what the author has written. the lack of coherence in the piece makes the inference of racism seem rather remote…

  • Anonymous

    That was a figurative description of the voice he uses when approaching strangers.

    He recognized the kid's face, no doubt after the encounter happened. It probably occurred to him as he waited in the cold.

    More importantly, whether or not THIS instance is racism, but the fact that this same scene happens, consistently, to members of Yale's black community. One instance can be explained away, the pattern cannot. If it was a coincidence then why doesn't this happen in a race-blind way? By using a personal anecdote, Vernon was bringing to light a problem that has persisted for many years, and that according to some posters, will continue to persist for years to come.

    That is a societal problem, and the society in question is Yale University.

    L.M.

  • Anonymous

    Nothing's changed, same issues when I went to school there 14 years ago. Some people just can't admit they stereotype and are racist. Since I'm not white I'll never know what it's like to be in denial about being racist.

    PS don't argue on the internet about race, it's a losing battle. I know from personal experience of trying to make the same arguments over the last 14 years. Some people are just to narrow minded and full of fear to move beyond seeing in terms of color.

  • Anonymous

    "That was a figurative description of the voice he uses when approaching strangers"..so again, the Davenporter he claims to know is a becomes a "stranger". explain to me again how it becomes racist to deny a stranger entry to a dorm?

    "He recognized the kid's face, no doubt after the encounter happened."…so it's racist if the "kid" doesn't recognize him, but it's benign if he doesn't?

    "whether or not THIS instance is racism, but the fact that this same scene happens, consistently, to members of Yale's black community. One instance can be explained away, the pattern cannot" what pattern? a pattern of perceived racism? according to whom? this claim of racism seems pretty weak….why assume any of the others are? Perhaps this is a pattern of "victimhood" where every perceived slight can only be explained by racism…

    "By using a personal anecdote, Vernon was bringing to light a problem that has persisted for many years"..no, by using this anecdote, Vernon gives us an insight into how he perceives the world around him, but nothing as to the veracity of the charge of racism. The more i read this piece, and the illogical explainations of the events, the more Vernon's judgement about the whole "event" becomes suspect..

    This is an op/ed piece, and Vernon is certainly entitled to his point of view. He should be expected however, to be able to logically support his premise, which clearly he does not in this piece.

  • Anonymous

    I must take issue with the poster who insists that Vernon get ready, regardless of his degree, for doors to be slammed in his face throughout his life.

    Hogwash!

    So long as Vernon is majoring in something useful (and for you folks wondering, that includes e.g., econ, any science, math, engineering OR, say, history versus AA studies; Biology versus R,E, & M; English versus Theater Studies; Poli Sci versus Women's Studies--and NOT, say, Sociology or Spanish), he will get an interview.

    As a hiring manager, I look at probably a hundred resumes a year--and hire maybe five. I am LOOKING for reasons to roundfile most; I am LOOKING for Yalies to give a shot (sorry, but THAT is how the alumni network works), REGARDLESS of race or any other extraneous factor (BTW, my list of useless majors was meant to be provocative, but it is also…practical…the "less useful" majors include those would-be workers with chips on their shoulders--I have no time for that or them--I have too many NON questionable candidates already…word to the wise).

    So, Vernon, I'll give you a shot when you graduate--fear not! Your race is irrelevant (although your politics may or may not be so). Good luck, Yalie!

  • Anonymous

    Hey Vernon, This is a very irritating situation. Your very normal forgetfulness compounded by the very normal prejudice you hadn't expected to revisit as a Senior who's paid his dues to Yale.
    A fellow Black grad suggested you equip yourself to handle doors closing because of your race. Hogwash told you it was farcical.
    Hogwash is delusional but your Black grad is overly cynical. The Indian poster handled it best. You will have to make slight adjustments to compensate for what Western society perceives as a fault: your black skin. You already understand this because you say you use a non-threatening voice. Other things include dressing nicely, being overly polite, friendly, intellectual.
    You will feel like a total ass for having to do this. It is insulting to have to make so many amenments just to ensure that you are treated properly. Believe me, the insult you feel in having to present yourself slightly differently is far less stinging than the insult of racism when you confront it.
    Keep fighting, be intellectually vigilant but not too cynical…

  • Anonymous

    I understand all the "racists" who preferred to be safe rather than politically correct. I agree with their actions but it hurts for the recipient, esp. if it seems like the white majority just doesn't recognise/distinguish Black students from a larger Black mass.
    I go to Wellesley so of course we know with 99% certainty "who goes here." That would be a nice place to send white guys so they can get a taste of what racism might feel like. All the white boyfriends, friends, MIT/Harvard/Babson students feel like they're treated like criminals and second-class citizens by SOME of the Wellesley students.

  • Anonymous

    RE 9:54am on December 21, 2007: "Luis, it is not very hard to sign your own name when you express views that 80% of the campus agrees with. If Yale was 90% conservative Republican instead of 90% liberal Democrat, I would sign my own name, and I venture to say that you would not feel quite as comfortable doing the same."

    Haha, so TRUE THAT MOST OF YALE IS LIBERAL - Thank God! - it is, however, false that liberals wouldnt speak up if we were the minority. Often when liberals are in the minority (pun intended) we are the first to speak up and to do so loudly because we stand for individual rights which are easy to proclaim both publicly and privately. Conservatives remain anonymous because, in some ways, their ideas seem absurd even to themselves.

    Welcome to Yale!!!!!!!!!

  • Anonymous

    I understand the sentiment, 9:47, but a looming issue here is whether or not anyone should be expected to make those adjustments. Forcing ourselves (minorities) to conform to some vague notion of predictability and harmlessness in order to compensate for the Western society's short-comings does very little to eradicate the problem or to progress our society. This arguably perpetuates stereotypes and increases the divide between the "educated" or "intellectual" minorities and the "uneducated" or "threatening" ones.

    You're right: "It is insulting to have to make so many amenments just to ensure that you are treated properly." But the fact remains, as the Black grad's cynicism reaffirms, that there will always be unexpected situations in which preemption can play no role. A great example is that of Vernon being locked out. It's an all too familiar scene where the best option available to overcompensate for society's deeply embedded racial stereotypes is to be overly polite - an action which apparently proved futile for Vernon.

    Am I saying that one should never be expected to amend their behavior? Of course not. However, removing the veil of Yale's often cited "tolerance" and "diversity" to reveal the racist (at the very least) implications, undertones, and (more often than most Yalies would like to admit) actions of students is particularly important in achieving real solutions to difficult problem. One external example of a somewhat effective, race-neutral policy is shoe-scanning at airports. Richard Colvin Reid (a British citizen) was never pulled aside solely on account of his race, but his actions led to the TSA's implementation of mandatory shoe-scanning at all airports as a policy. It would be foolish to advocate unrestricted entry into the colleges until it approached a dangerous level of insecurity like Reid's attempted bombing. (One only need look to a few Chief Perotti e-mails to know that security within the colleges is an issue.) However, manifesting the effect of the current policy of student "vigilance" is essential in order to arrive at a well-reasoned solution that ensures security of all students, while not being to the expense of minority students. Personally, I'm inclined to follow the first respondent's suggestion about security personnel at each college gate.

    Joel Nezianya
    BK '09

  • Anonymous

    I've never had trouble entering a college while carrying a 30-pack of beer. People usually let me in with a smile.

  • Anonymous

    RE: 2:37am on December 29, 2007
    "Haha, so TRUE THAT MOST OF YALE IS LIBERAL - Thank God! - it is, however, false that liberals wouldnt speak up if we were the minority. Often when liberals are in the minority (pun intended) we are the first to speak up and to do so loudly because we stand for individual rights which are easy to proclaim both publicly and privately. Conservatives remain anonymous because, in some ways, their ideas seem absurd even to themselves. Welcome to Yale!!!!!!!!!"

    Please grow up. The entire point of a place like Yale is to give students a diverse intellectual experience to challenge them. By discounting an entire branch of American political thought as "absurd," you aid neither your personal intellectual growth nor the purpose of this discussion. The fact is that the superior, enlightened liberals of Yale perpetrate the distressing trend that Vernon describes with his anecdote.

    Whether or not the case in Vernon's editorial is a true reflection of racial profiling, it is a reality at Yale. At some schools, it's even worse--my black friends at UChicago, located in a majority black, high crime neighborhood, say that school shuttles often won't stop for them out of misguided fear. It's important to differentiate this form of racial profiling from "racism," which carries connotations of blind hatred. In this case however, people are forced to make snap judgments with the security of their peers at stake. They use the best information they have, which in many cases may only be superficial appearances such as race and dress--often not good information at all. But in New Haven and on Yale campus, most crime IS perpetrated by young black males. Many people would rather risk shutting out one classmate than risk jeopardizing the security of the rest of their classmates. It's not racism, it's racial profiling for the sake of expediency.

    If we are serious about wanting to stop this unfortunate, race-based trend, we have to do what airports have done-- be suspicious of EVERYbody, or have security checkpoints at the gates to dorms. Such action would be costly, annoying and anti-social, and it would suck. A better plan would just be to get to recognize your classmates better, or find something identifying about Yale students. Whatever the solution, it shouldn't be approached as a matter of combatting racism but of finding a better way for locked-out students to convey that they belong.

    Good luck to anybody shut out in the future

    Tommy M. BK '11

  • Anonymous

    Joel, you have my support!

  • Anonymous

    Tommy--

    You are defining racism far too narrowly. Racial profiling is racist. Really. To say that only those things that are done out of "blind hatred" can possibly be racist is to deny the felt experiences of far too many minorities at Yale and in this country.

    Also, please consider that you've adopted a definition of racism that (most likely) lets you off the hook. Isn't it likely that there's some subconscious self-justification going on there? None of us can solve the race problem until we acknowledge our own complicity in a system that is racist and discriminatory.

    --Sarah again, '07

  • Anonymous

    You're not supposed to let anyone you don't know in, period. If he didn't recognize you, black or white, he shouldn't have let you in anyway. In my apt bldg in Bklyn, a guy (sorry, don't know his color) was let in, and he slit the throat of his ex, a nanny in the bldg, then hung himself in the basement. Gee, aren't I glad I am not the one who let him in?

  • Anonymous

    "But in New Haven and on Yale campus, most crime IS perpetrated by young black males."

    I call BS on that one. In a campus that is over 70% white, and less than 5%African American male, it is almost impossible that most of the crime is committed by black males.

    But hey, there aren't any laws against fantasizing, right?

  • Anonymous

    I'm going to submit that people slitting other people's throats after being let into Yale colleges isn't a problem that Perrotti sits around worrying about exactly. The crimes we're talking about preventing are not violent crimes--it's basically theft of money/laptops/ipods.

    Given that people DO let in little white girls, regardless of whether they personally know them, they should let in everyone they don't have an acceptable or articulable reason to suspect of being anything other than a locked-out Yalie. Making sure some dumbass who doesn't lock his room or possessions doesn't get his ipod stolen is not worth inflicting the pain of racism on a fellow human.

  • Anonymous

    It is truly sad that fellow classmates do not recognize you, but the recent spate of crime unfortunately necessitates this type of behavior. My parents often tell stories about being able to go to sleep with open windows and unlocked doors but this simply isn't the reality we live in today. You simply cannot leave your room without your key card. If Yale did in fact have tighter security, the security guards probably would not let you in without a proper check either.

  • Anonymous

    umm i agree with u that a person shouldnt be judged by the color of their skin. but i think u should judge somebody by their dress. if somebody is dressed all gangster and thug like , then i would definitely not let him in either. sorry if thats not P.C. but i think thats common sense in action. most normal people dont dress with their pants falling down and their t-shirt 3 sizes too big

  • Anonymous

    Why assume this is RACE? I work in a secure environment - and it is 100% against regulations to open that door for ANYONE - even your OFFICE mate! The corporate policy makes absolutely NO room for exceptions, which is good, because that leaves no room for personal insults. I think you could only say it was a racial issue if a white guy in the same attire at the same time of day requested the same assistance.

  • Anonymous

    I am a parent of a Yale student, so, of course, I must post anonymously or she'll kill me! I'm 51, white (Jewish actually) and an affordable housing lawyer and developer who has worked in disadvantaged (primarily black) communities for decades. Years ago when I was taking a cab to meet Bobby Rush (Congressman, former Black Panther) for dinner, the black (African) cab driver told me he wouldn't pick up black men and especially not the "bitches." I asked him how he would get a cab to which he responded, "they know me."! I've stood outside the Palm restaurant in DC with a buddy -black, Republican, lawyer, Olympic silver medal winner (Munich) - who asked me to raise my arm for the cab bc he "just didn't want to deal with it." Another black friend told me stories of when he was a mortgage broker in So. L.A. and how blacks wouldn't open the door for him (even though he had an appointment) once they saw he was black. Most of my black friends have come straight out and said they would almost always hire another minority to paint their house, take care of their landscaping, be their lawyer, etc. I've had numerous friends arrested (sometimes forcefully) for DWB. All of these things were shocking to me at the time.

    I've had blacks say awful things to me bc I was Jewish. I've had whites do the same. I've had Jews tell me I wasn't really a Jew. I've been in innumerable situations where I've had to modify my accent and mannerisms so I didn't seem so Jewish.

    My point. All this crap sucks, but it's reality. Yes, it's almost always worse for blacks, but most blacks acknowledge that it's not just non-blacks who are afraid of young black men. Jesse's said it for years.

    We have a major problem that continues to diminish every year. We have miles and miles to go; we've come a long f'g way in 40 years and we're not close to being done. But we do a disservice to all of us when we just label human actions as racist bc that's just too simple - it's so much more than that. People generally act based on fears arising from their or others' experience.

    Let's not be so hard on each other. I have shed tears watching Yale students of every race, creed and national origin play and interact together on campus (my perspective is very different). Do I think there is no racism on campus? Of course not. Only a fool would believe that. Do I think it's so much better than it ever was and will only continue on that path as each of you continue to learn and grow and treat each other as individuals and not representatives of a race? Yes. Can we expect more? No.

    I wish all of you would stop the labeling, stop the antagonism and realize that every one of us has work to do. We are all prejudiced. We are all "racists." That doesn't mean we have to act that way; we must continue to grow. Dr. King said it was a dream and it still is.

    I did not intend this to be a lecture from an old '60s person. I just want you not to be so hard on yourselves. You may all be brilliant, but you are all still flawed emotional human beings. Please give yourselves, and those that see things a bit differently, a little space. It's all very complicated and no one has a monopoly on how to think and act. I don't see any hatred or true racism in anything anyone has said. I just see young people struggling to learn more about themselves and what motivates them to act as they do in a particular situation.

    At the risk of sounding corny, all of you remain my greatest hope for a world that eliminates as much racism as is humanly possible. It's awful that it will take even more generations and that the pain and outrage will not ever go away. But, the trend is clear and will not be denied. The haters continue to lose ground and all of you will be responsible for ensuring that process is ongoing. Let's continue to see it, speak out about it and, as individuals, rise above it.

    Thanks.

  • Anonymous

    First: Vernon, you're a Yale student. You're smart. Don't forget your ID! If this has happened to you before, you have no excuse except foolishness or laziness. Once is a mistake, but after that, get a clue. Second: Unfortunately, we live in times when bad things happen at colleges. Generally, by the way, these bad things are caused by folks who are not black. It doesn't matter. Anyone who lets a person who they do not recognize into a secure building is negligent, if not criminal. Yes, I would absolutely close the door in the face of someone who I didn't recognize and had no ID, regardless of their race. I could live with being called names much easier than I could live with being responsible for a tragedy. Third: racism exists. So does anti-Semitism, homophobia, etc. While we should never regard these prejudices as acceptable we should likewise never let them serve as excuses for our striving for anything other than excellence. Jesse Jackson called my family and me "Hymies". Screw him. Al Sharpton tried to frame white cops. Screw him. Don Imus insulted a group of young women he never met. Screw him, too. Despite the horrors of racism, Vernon, despite the challenges you endure because you are black, despite the wounds inflicted on you by the vast, right-wing conspiracy, the bottom line is…DON'T FORGET YOUR ID!!!

  • Anonymous

    It is interesting to an outsider (from the South)that in such a Liberal setting as Yale that there is a problem with blacks sitting together in the Cafeteria. Are the blacks being racist? If they sat with their non-black counterparts, perhaps they would be recognized if they forget their ID.

  • Anonymous

    @9:52--

    The whole point is that people DO let in little white girls and other people they don't find threatening. Your corporate culture is really not relevant to residential college culture.

    And more broadly, the bottom line is NOT "don't forget your ID," and if you're trying to make a joke, it's not funny.

    And I'm just going to submit here that there may be a difference between racism and other prejudices (e.g. anti-semitism and homophobia) because of the possibility (or not) of passing. Most African-Americans in this country cannot pass as anything other than African-American. Many Jews and many homosexuals can. Further, if you've done your cultural studies homework, you'd realize that many, many people believe that there's something very deep in American/western culture that responds negatively to blackness. So (white) Jews and (white) homosexuals aren't subject to that deeper prejudice as well.

    All of this is to say that misdirection (by pointing to antisemitism and homophobia) is really just that: misdirection. What we are talking about here is race.

    And for the parent: of course things are better than they were. But they're still bad. They are. And the things that people have been saying in this thread ARE racist. And thinking back to Dr. King and thanking our lucky stars that he did so much doesn't change that.

    --Sarah '07

  • Anonymous

    Sarah,
    You write:

    "Further, if you've done your cultural studies homework, you'd realize that many, many people believe that there's something very deep in American/western culture that responds negatively to blackness. So (white) Jews and (white) homosexuals aren't subject to that deeper prejudice as well. "

    Well, Sarah, I think you should do *your* history homework. From the time of the Crusades until the horrors in Germany in the 1940's, Jews were treated similarly to the blacks in the USA, except that, in general, they weren't legally slaves (in Roman times, in fact, they were slaves). They were deported enmasse from countries, regularly slaughtered in massacres and segregated into villages where they were limited to only the most unpleasant and unrewarding occupations. Yes, there was something 'very deep' in western culture which reviled them. Even today in Europe, anti-semitism is quite common and accepted at many levels of society.

    You seem so caught up in seeing everything as racism that you have lost sight of the fact that people, in general, have varying degrees of discomfort with those that are different than them. Some people express this as pure hatred, others in more subtle ways. However, the term 'racism' has been so overused that it is meaningless. If two people disagree on any issue relating to race, one person accuses the other of racism.

    The article (remember it was an *opinion* article) was an excellent presentation of the author's perceptions and conclusions. People can agree or disagree. Calling people who disagree racist only exacerbates the situation.

  • Anonymous

    @12:09--

    My mother could tell you that I've certainly done the reading on the Holocaust and the history of anti-semitism: 12 years of private Jewish day schools, including a semester in Israel--which she helped pay for by working for one of the most prominent Jewish anti-hate non-profits in the country. (Yes, that one.)

    We're talking about today. Here, in America. We have a color problem far more than we do a religion problem. It's willful blindness to say otherwise, I'm afraid.

    --Sarah '07

  • Anonymous

    Sarah @ (from the parent)

    "All of this is to say that misdirection (by pointing to antisemitism and homophobia) is really just that: misdirection. What we are talking about here is race."

    Absolutely we are (and no misdirection was intended). Nothing in the US comes close to the injustice and pain of racism against blacks. And references to other discrimination (even the Holocaust) is not particularly relevant. Being 5 when the civil rights movement started, and growing up watching scenes on TV of blacks being abused in the most violent and disgusting ways, Dr. King murdered and everything that followed, I don't think anything in the history of this country is more of a social and cultural issue than racism and the black community.

    "And for the parent: of course things are better than they were. But they're still bad. They are. And the things that people have been saying in this thread ARE racist. And thinking back to Dr. King and thanking our lucky stars that he did so much doesn't change that."

    I agree and have said the same thing innumerable times. I am enormously frustrated that we have not moved further in 40 years. But, the fact that this current debate is over people's purported reasons for not letting a young black man who does not have his ID enter a private secured building at night does, in fact, give me pause to reflect on the "racist" behavior being admonished.

    I just think that in your (admirable) passion and near vigilante suspicion of people's motives, you (as I did for decades) are not fairly allowing people of good faith (and reasonable fears and concerns) to speak without being labeled a racist.

    Another point is that "racism" is alive and well within the 3 races (and the subcategories). The black community is notoriously racist internally. Sometimes I think the actual color of a person is really more important among blacks than whites. The color "caste" among blacks still amazes me. From dark skinned to geechy to high yellow (and everything in between), the discrimination practiced among "blacks" is very real and painful.

    I'd like to hear from Vernon and other black students on this. I am correct or have things changed outside of my older environment? Do they think a dark skinned black's chances of being hired by a white or a light skinned black would be the same or different?

    Thanks for letting me participate.

  • Anonymous

    @parent--

    I don't know; I guess I think that even well-meaning and good-faith racism should be labeled as such, even if the people proposing it don't experience it so. If people of good-faith are espousing racist views, it would be condescending of me to refuse to tell them that their views are racist for fear of offending them. Further, it would be intellectually dishonest of me to refrain from calling racist views racist, simply because they are not felt as "racist" by the person tendering them. We can have different definitions of the word "racist," although as I have said, one should consider whether one's definition has the "unintended" side benefit of letting oneself off the hook. But I'm not going to be cowed by the race-card card. I call them like I see them, and refusing to let black students in while letting white students in (which, by and large, is what happened to this white girl many a time), and furthermore, DEFENDING that practice unabashedly as a purposeful defensive measure against, what, again, the theft of laptops? That really and truly is racist. I think any other word is just pussy-footing.

  • Anonymous

    Sarah,
    I apologize for for assuming you did not understand anti-semitism over the centuries. And, you are certainly correct that in America, the discrimination problem is far more severe based on race than religion. Having said that, identifying all disagreements which involve race as racism, dilutes the meaning of the word. In the case in question, in my opinion, if the campus has problems with blacks from New Haven getting into the dorms and causing trouble, it is not unreasonable for a person to use race as a guideline for who they let in without an ID. It's a probablistic judgment and we use them all the time to guide us in life. Sometimes it may be unfair and unjust, but that is the way people live and survive. If you think it through, I would think you do the same thing unconsciously all the time. Just my 2 cents.

  • Anonymous

    I agree that Yallies, as well as everyone else including myself, make assumptions that are unfounded. Therefore, I do not want to discredit anything that Vernon wrote, nor do I want to blame him. But I will say that asking someone for access at Yale DOES put them in an awkward position. I realized this recently when a group of friends and I recently ignored a middle-aged man at the High Street Gate who was clearly a father of a Yallie. It was midnight and we were waiting for a friend to meet us to get food. We were at the gate for at least 15 minutes, while the poor man was waiting on the other side. It was really cold, but the whole time he was there, the father NEVER asked us to open the gate for him. Eventually, his son arrived to let him in to Old Campus. It was really cold so I wondered why he didn't just ask us to open the gate. But then I realized I probably would not have done that even if he had asked. When you ask someone for access at Yale, you put them in an awkward position. Further, as a father, he probably wouldn't have wanted his son to let in a complete stranger. Clearly, the security situation at Yale ought to be improved. Meanwhile, we should consider our community as a whole. While I am not African-American, I am Asian-American and I have also been questioned when asking someone to let me into an entryway. But I realize that it's for the greater good and I can live with that if it means keeping myself and other Yallies safer.

  • Anonymous

    Making probabilistic judgments based on race may be the way we live, but that's not enough to justify it. It's still wrong.

    And I certainly do object to the assertion that all disagreements about race are identified as racism. I think, however, that refusing to call less blatant forms of racism racist is to dilute the meaning of the term.

    I also think that people are relying on stereotypes and calling them probabilities without any empirical evidence to back them up, other than "Oh, come on." So we're not talking about scientific rigor here anyway.

    Just because we do it doesn't make it right.

    --Sarah

  • Anonymous

    Sarah,
    Given that I'm *many* years older than you and a white male, I think we will never agree on this issue. Our backgrounds are just too different.

    However, I'll just quote that old proverb that "you can catch more flies with honey than with a fly swatter". Obama's Iowa victory is the latest "proof"!

  • Anonymous

    the lack of intellectual rigor in Vernon's piece is obvious if you actually read it in a critical manner. The internal contradictions in his statements are multiple…which all means that his opinion about what happened is just an opinion..not fact.

    lets not forget that vernon is calling a fellow Yalie, one individual, a RACIST based on his muddled opinion about what happened..

    is it acceptable for vernon to label another person a racist based upon this experience…seems like a rather extreme position to me.

  • Anonymous

    I'm an Edwards girl myself, although I do realize that if Obama used vinegar (or a flyswatter), his candidacy would be as much of a joke as people say Jesse Jackson's and Al Sharpton's were. Black men and women can't be as sharp and assertive (and truthful) as white men can without suffering the repercussions.

    --Sarah

  • Anonymous

    One of the recent postings makes me wonder whether a certain Supreme Court Justice has been trolling on the Yale website and particularly the references to color-struction within the African-American community. I don't think that's as significant a problem these days as it used to be, and those students at Yale with parents who attended HBCU can certainly attest to the fact that it was a huge problem in the past as any glance at yearbooks from Howard, Spelman,etc., clearly confirm. None of that has jack to do with what happened to Vernon though. This entire discussion is becoming exhausting. I am convinced that the refusal to let him in was based upon the skin he's in, and had it been a white person in a similar situation, the door would have been opened. The white boy would have gotten the benefit of the doubt, but the colored man? Not a chance.

    Also, I find the Yale parent of Jewish descent's comments rather interesting. She writes as though she's walked a mile in our shoes and felt our collective pain; I beg to differ. I get really incensed when I hear Jews say (in order to deny their own racism) "I marched with Dr. King …) I had the most blatantly racist experience of my life while job hunting at a Jewish organizaiton in NYC. I won't go into details; however, suffice it to say that it was the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, and they discriminate against African-Americans seeking employment. Right here in NYC on Fifth Avenue, and one of the first comments out of their mouth was: "We were there with Dr. King during the Civil Rights Movement …"

    Apparently, assuming what they said was true, their presence was meaningless. I just find it interesting to hear a middle-aged Jewish woman interject and presume that she knows for a minute what it is to live while black.

    Jews have been successfully assimilated into American society notiwthstanding isolated pockets of anti-semiitism here and there. Af-Americans still have a long way to go.

  • Anonymous

    @3:35am from parent

    Pls read my prior comments more carefully, as I do not believe you have understood them correctly. I have not walked a mile in your shoes, nor have you walked in mine. I have not felt your "collective" pain, nor do you feel mine. That is part of my point. Each of us has our own experiences that shape our views and our actions. I do not deny my own "racism" and you have, apparently, just expressed yours. You can get as incensed as you wish and although it is seriously misplaced, I hope that you remain incensed (in the appropriate circumstances and manner) so you and others will change.

    You made my point by apparently forming a conclusion about how the Union of AHC (the entire organization) and Jews (the entire tribe) are racist bc of some terrible thing one or more individuals did to you. Like blacks (and every population segment), Jews are not a monolithic group.

    My point is that people need to treat each other as individuals, which requires that we get past our prejudices, whatever they may be. Now I don't know what happened to you there and would be interested to hear it, but the fact is that no single group of people who were not black did more to promote the civil rights movement, and most Jews are very proud of that fact. When they marched or whatever, they were, however, still prejudiced. For you to say their presence was meaningless is astonishing, offensive and ignorant. Tell Andrew Goodman's mother that his involvement was meaningless. Go read about Allard K. Lowenstein, a Yalie and my mentor. Just go read anything on the subject matter.

    Further, I am presuming nothing about what it's like to live while black. You apparently assume that unless someone is actually black, they can't know for a minute what it is to be black. Well, if that's the case, then no one can have any idea what any person's experience is unless they have what, the same color skin, the same shade of skin color, the same ethnic background … Does empathy end at the skin? It is fascinating and disheartening to me that you are so quick to use the word "they".

    The fact is I do have a very good idea of what it is like to live while black. A very good idea, not the experience. How do I know this? Because as recently as this Fri. I met with a new client who said he was surprised that I was as knowledgeable about what it's like to live while black, just as I'm surprised when I meet any non-Jew who has a very good idea of what it's like to be Jewish (not just a Jew today, but historically). Most people just don't know much about the culture of others.

    And here's a statistic for you. Look it up to see how accurate I am, but I believe this is very close. Usually, I like to ask this person in question bc it's so much fun to hear the responses. How many Jews are there in our world of 6.5 billion people? Answer: About 18 million. Yes, million. Israel - 5.3 mm, US - 5.3 mm (NY - 1.6 mm, CA - 1.2 mm), with the rest scattered. So yes, today Jews are successfully assimilated in many cities of the US, but don't kid yourself - based on my experience there are maybe 10 cities in the US in which it would be comfortable for me to live (and I'm not religious at all and do not "look" at all Jewish). Live in France, Germany, most everywhere else in the world? Fuggetaboutit.

    Interestingly, I have found that most blacks (like my recent lunch guest) believe Jews comprise about 10% of the world's population. Most people in general are shocked when they learn that fact.

    I wish you could've heard my father-in-law talking about what it was like growing up in Dresden before WWII. He said they thought of themselves as Germans, not Jews. He felt fully assimilated. He, his sister, his mother and father left Germany two weeks before nobody left. Every other person in his family (uncles, aunts, cousins, etc.) was murdered. If you don't think that having that history doesn't make most Jews more empathic about the plight of blacks and propelled them to march for civil rights, you are seriously and profoundly mistaken.

    In any event, this isn't a contest on which group has been more mistreated. I see this as a discussion that will cause people to stop and think about their prejudices and, having recognized them, try to rise above them.

    Af-Americans do have a long way to go. But, as many of the comments here indicate, when the predominant exposure of most whites to blacks is through rap, hip-hop, baggy pants, gangs, crime (even though most is black on black), and frightening statistics re out-of-wedlock babies, single mother households, drop-out rates, education rates, etc. (in other words, reality), I do not believe it is fair to label people as "racists". Assuming you are a black female, tell me, honestly and candidly, what most black women say about black men as husbands and providers. It's not too positive is it? (Not that women of any color have that much positive to day about their men!
    ; ) (btw, I'm male.)

    However, just bc that is the reality for Af-Americans as a group at this moment in time, does not mean that every Af-American should be presumed to be a part of a statistical band.

    Progress has been painfully slow. Im just hoping that as your generation and the one that follows you comes into power and influence, behavior and perception will change and people will look at and judge each other by their individual behavior and not prejudice. Whether and how fast that happens is up to you.

    All of us need to participate in that process (and listen and give some credence to each other's perspective and feelings) so someday no one will make a decision on whether to let someone inside based on the color or shade of their skin.

  • Anonymous

    11:48. I never extrapolated or projected onto all Jews the racism of the one or few that I had negative encounters with. My comment was based upon my incredulity at hearing the excuse proferred by execs at that organization relative to the blatant discrimination I encountered while applying for a job there. It was and remains incredulous to me that that having participated in the civil rights marches absolved them of any responsibility for the present racial discrimination I encountered. People in my family worked for Jewish families in Rye, NY and on Long Island, and I will never forget the way in which they were treated - like second class citizens by them. Even as a child, I knew there was something very wrong about it. Having attended schools with Jews in high school and in furher educational pursuits, my experience tells me that Jews are no more or less racist than any other group of whites.

    I digress. My own experiences, however, have deeply affected my response to how this outstanding young man was treated, and the response from the Yale community and beyond to this seemingly minor incident. This young man was hurt and humiliated by what happened, and I wish that the person responsible for it would tell us precisely why it is that he chose to not open the door and extend a courtesy to Vernon as a fellow Yale student.

    It would be interesting to hear his rationalization for why he didn't open the door.

    It might also be instructive for the psychology department to do some experiments on campus to try and ferret out precisely what's going on here. If there are social psych courses at Yale, this seems like a great experiment to try and assess just how much latent or conscious racism is at work in these types of incidents.

  • Anonymous

    >Black men and women can't be as sharp and assertive (and truthful) as white men can without suffering the repercussions.

    well, Sarah, I don't think that is true under all circumstances, but, in many cases, you are probably correct …. is this fair ?? …. absolutely not! …. it is changing, but if I were black, it wouldn't be fast enough for me …. however, that is reality and, from my perspective, a guy like Obama innately understand this and works within this framework …. as far as Jesse Jackson and Sharpton, to me and most whites, they are (hopefully were!) opportunists far more interested in their own personal agendas than helping the African-Americans they claimed to represent ….

  • Anonymous

    @7:26--

    It may be the reality, but you know, Gandhi--"be the change you wish to see in the world." I try to follow that whenever I can. There's no reason to give in to the status quo just because it's there.

  • Anonymous

    >There's no reason to give in to the status quo

    I agree …. but it's *how* you go about changing the status quo that frequently determines whether you are successful ….

  • Anonymous

    10:08pm on January 2, 2008 poster: Beautiful and true.

    Also a gender issue too: A poster said a white woman would have been admitted. A black woman almost surely would have been too.

    See 10:08pm on January 2, 2008 poster's comments. Regretably, statistically black males are probably the highest risk group for having dangerous bad apples. And there has been a lot of crime around Yale lately, with probably a lot of it by black males since there is a large black population adjacent to Yale. So unfortunately the author of this piece has encountered problems black females and whites do not encounter(or as much) but speaking as a parent I would rather someone be offended by being denied entry than an imposter be admitted who was dangerous(be he white, black, or whatever). Safety has to take priority over offending someone.

  • Anonymous

    What racist clap-trap posted by presumably many whites on this thread vis-a-vis alleged "obsequiousness" by Barack Obama et al. Most black folk, and I'm black, of a certain generation post-60's/post Civil Rights era don't shuck and jive, buck dance or steppin fechit to make white peoople feel comfortable. I find the views expressed contemptible. It boils down to this: Obama's okay because he's an Uncle Tom kinda negro, but Jesse and Al aren't okay because they are race men. Here we go again. This is the same argument between W.E.B. DuBois and Booker T. Washington.

    As a black woman born and raised in the South, post Civil Rights Era, you can be good and good damn sure that I don't kowtow to whites, don't tamp down my assertiveness, never have and never will. I should also note that as well-educated and professionally credentialed black woman, I don't step and fetch it either.

    Your views about black folks and alleged non-assertiveness are utterly ill-informed and racist.

  • Anonymous

    re @ 11:48 (1/7) from the parent (not the one who posted @ 12:48 (1/11)

    I agree with you that participating in the civil rights marches absolves one of nothing - behavior counts, nothing else. I am saddened by the experiences you described of relatives working for Jewish families. I offer the following not as an excuse, but to offer you some other experiences to consider.

    My wife and I each grew up on Long Island with a "maid" (the term "housekeeper" was not used then) and each one was treated with respect and dignity. (Our parents made it very clear there was no other way to treat anyone and that the consequences would be severe if we didn't heed that.) My mother-in-law was recently visited by a woman who had worked for her in the '60's; they had stayed in contact all those years. As an indication of how Cathy felt, her son is named after my father-in-law. I have innumerable stories like that.

    Let me try to reframe your experience. Don't you think that In virtually any employer-housekeeper situation, where there is a dramatic difference in wealth and education, the dramatically less educated, poor housekeeper will feel "less than" their employer and that the housekeeper's children, etc. are bound to harbor animosity toward that employer? Now, I'm not thinking that you do not have many stories of disrespect and discrimination to relate, but I don't think that skin color, more than socio-economic and educational status, was the basis for most of that. Frankly, I've heard some pretty nasty comments from successful, well-educated blacks about those blacks who remain mired in poverty or who work in "low-end" jobs; particularly black males.

    It seems to me that way you describe as racism is more accurately described as classism. My Dad always said, with chagrin, that "every group seems to need another one to step on to make themselves feel better. It's f'd up, but apparently it's human nature."

    But let's be real, black women are not usually very complimentary when discussing black men, who, as a statistical group struggle like no other to find their bearings in this society. While the reasons are now pretty obvious to us, others, without much knowledge or understanding, don't have much of a clue as to why a large percentage of black men still struggle 40+ years after the civil rights movement. They think 40+ years is a long time, but they are wrong. Nevertheless, I believe that is the general mentality we face.

    Re your comment that Jews don't seem to be any less racist than other whites: Maybe I've been kidding myself, but I have always carried a sense of pride that Jews were a significant presence and force in helping blacks fight for achieve racial justice (such as it is).

    I just watched a video on Hank Greenberg, the first Hall of Fame level baseball player who was Jewish (1930's to 40's). The virulent discrimination and tormenting he experienced was constant and vicious. In his last year, 1947, he was playing first base against the Dodgers (and Jackie Robinson, who had just started his first year). Hank said that while no ballplayer had experienced the level of hatred from players and fans that he did, when he heard what people were saying to Jackie, his experienced felt like nothing compared to it. When Jackie got to first base, Hank took him aside (in the middle of the game) and took a few minutes to say some encouraging and wonderful things to him about how to deal with the same a-holes Hank had to deal with. Jackie said he never forgot it, that Hank's words were critical to him in those early days and that he was eternally grateful.

    While I am not religious at all, I have always taken pride in stories like this, of which I know many.

    Personally, when a Jew acts in a racist way, it is more offensive to me than when any white person does (whether Jews are really "white" is another discussion - we certainly didn't start out that way/anymore than Jesus was white). We know better and should be held to a higher standard. I hope that over time you experience what I've often found to be a special connection forged by blacks and Jews due to shared experiences and a willingness to stand up against prejudice.

    Perhaps some day we won't see so much through the prism of race. Your generation is soooo much further along than any prior one. That doesn't mean progress is fast enough, we all know it isn't. What it does mean, however, is that the burden is now on your generation to fight as hard as one can against all prejudice, especially one's own.

    I too call upon the individual who failed to let Vernon in to tell us all what he was thinking, no matter what it was.

    I also ask Vernon to tell us how he finally did get inside and, if by another person, the race/ethnicity of that person.

    I believe that only through processes like this dialogue will we come to understand the challenges we face when it comes to eradicating prejudice due to race and ethnicity.

    Finally, re @ 3:56 - I didn't see any of the race baiting comments to which you referred and suggest that the huge chip on your shoulder might be something you'd want to work on removing. I haven't heard that kind of simplistic, over the top language in decades ("don't shuck and jive, buck dance or steppin fechit" - are you kidding me - where do you live, in some 1940's cartoon world?!). What garbage. The intensity of your anger is based on what I believe to be a very serious misinterpretation of the comments made. It appears that you're not really interested in improving anything, you seem to just want to continue the racist garbage from the past and believe the worst of every white person alive. I guess when you make up your own straw men, it's easy to be all self-righteous and assertive. Is someone actually telling you not to be assertive or that you should "kowtow" to whites. Has any white person asked you to step n' fetch something? Be specific, please.

    Obama's ok not bc he's an "Uncle Tom negro" (jeez, I haven't heard such language in years), but bc he's a compelling human being of great intelligence and potential. Jesse is not for innumerable reasons and virtually every black person I know has little respect for him. Sharpton - please don't me started. He sets racial progress back every time he opens his mouth. Again, I don't know even one black person who has anything positive to say about him. He's the ultimate race baiter who shows total disregard for the truth.

    I've been working in disadvantaged neighborhoods for over 30 years and I can tell you that I have not seen one damn substantive long time benefit that either of these men have accomplished for their "people." I've seen them get rich, make nice speeches, live in fancy homes and travel by private jet, but IMHO they are out for themselves and those around them.

    I don't believe Dr. King would be proud of either of them and I'm eternally sad about Jesse not fulfilling his potential.

    Hoping that all the time spent writing these missives is resonating with someone,

    The True Believer Parent

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