‘Even The Hate Mail I Get Reveals the Contours of White Privilege’

Screen Shot 2018-04-30 at 2.52.50 PM.pngWritten by Mark Naison, professor of history and African American Studies at Fordham University in New York:

My Black friends have always told me, “Mark, if you were Black, saying the things you do, acting the way you do, you would have been dead a long time ago.”

If you think they were exaggerating, read the article “The Ugly Truth of Being a Black Professor” in the April 29 edition of the Chronicle of Higher Education about the death threats and insults the African American philosopher George Yancy is repeatedly deluged with when he comments about issues in commercial media. The great Fordham Theologian Father Bryan Massingale has had a similar experience, as have my friends Johnny Eric Williams and Keeanga-Yamahtta Taylor, who teach at two of the nation’s top colleges.

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Dr. Naison with colleague Father Bryan Massingale

This is startlingly different from what I have experienced when I comment about race in America for CNN (“‘White supremacists by default’: How ordinary people made Charlottesville possible“), or other media outlets. I get hate mail. I have scores of people telling me I should never be allowed to teach. But I have NEVER received a death threat or a rape threat or an email that begins ‘Dear n…..r Professor.’

Black people in positions of academic leadership, commenting on the issues of the day, bring out a kind of insecurity in too many whites that is easily transferred into violent fantasies, and in some cases, into violent actions.

No one should underestimate the power and prevalence of White Rage in this country. It is quite literally life threatening to Black people, even when they reach positions of influence through their talent and hard work.

Dylann Roof is guilty. Now what?

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Image via KXII News 12

As a person who very often shares news on her Facebook page with snarky commentary, I shared the news about Dylan Roof being found guilty of massacring nine church goers in North Carolina without any caption. It’s not that I disagree with the verdict on this self-proclaimed white supremacist, who probably will never see the error of his ways, I just hate that this will now turn into a death penalty debate, and then when it’s all said in done, for the most part, it’s over.

Sure, there will be memorials on the anniversary of their deaths, but mass shootings don’t really get remembered save for Sandy Hook for obvious reasons.

It doesn’t solve the heightened racial tension we find ourselves in at this point in time in a post-Obama era (I mean, just today: Motorist told schoolchildren ‘f–k black lives, they don’t matter’). It certainly doesn’t put an end to mass shootings (and neither will him getting executed by lethal injection for that matter). Roof’s eventual execution (I mean, it’s the South) won’t even convince folks on the fence about racism that it’s one of the main reason he chose his targets. They’ll just pony it up to mental illness and then not discuss any further. And that’s wrong!

We obviously need to drill down as to why we find ourselves in a super polarized state that obviously played a pretty big factor in the last election.

The Charleston massacre was a clear case of nine people who were killed because of the color of their skin. It’s almost as if this many years after slavery, we need to define what racism is again.

One of the leadings scholars of theological ethics, Father Bryan Massingale of Fordham University, describes racism as a “profound warping of the human spirit.” He’s also referred to it as a “soul sickness.”

Maybe if looked at white supremacy as a mental illness and had deeper discussions about it, we can do more honor to the Charleston victims than the death penalty and forgetting about the case ever would.

Two great #race and #gender related events in #NYC: November 2014

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 2.32.27 PMTwo great #race related events this weekend in New York City:

The first is happening online: STAY WOKE

To speak to events in Ferguson, MO, and the many counts of racialized violence in America, Stay Woke: Write Yourself will gather together artists from the greater community and Fordham students and faculty to create meaningful action through art. It is also a story space for testimonials of racial harmony and violence online. More info here.

The second is an event at the Brooklyn Museum on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 2 p.m.: Beyond Binaries and Boxes: Deconstructing and Re-envisioning Black Feminism(s). You’ll also be able to watch online.

Screen Shot 2014-11-14 at 2.40.17 PMFor this event, panelists will ask the audience to reframe and re-envision black feminism(s) to include creativity, abundance, and collective liberation in the twenty-first century. Panelists include Fordham University professor, Aimee Meredith Cox, from the department of African and African American Studies. Cox is the author of Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship, to be published by Duke University Press next year.

It will also include my friend, community food and environment activist, Tanya Fields.

Others include: Florence Noel, Northeast Director of Girls Who Code; Jamilah Lemieux, Journalist and Editor of Ebony.com; and Aiesha Turman, Executive Director of Black Girl Project.

Colorblind Notion Aside, Colleges Grapple With Racial Tension

Screen shot 2014-02-25 at 10.58.47 AM—> He said he believed that the recent spate of activism on diversity was being propelled by two issues: a lack of state funding for public institutions that has led colleges to admit more out-of-state students, who tend to be more affluent and less diverse, and challenges to affirmative action laws in states like Michigan and California.

Read more in The New York Times. 

Is Empathy Enough?

Screen shot 2014-02-18 at 9.51.51 AMIs Empathy Enough?
Racial Justice and the Moral Imagination in the 21st Century

Monday, February 24, 2014 at 6 p.m.
Pope Auditorium  |  113 W. 60th St.  |  Fordham University  |  New York City

Racial justice remains elusive a half century after the monumental Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Where the law falls short, could an enriched culture of empathy produce the needed transformation in the American conscience?

Join us for a forum that mines the arts, history, and theology to explore the power–and weakness–of empathy as a force for social change.

FEATURING

Pun Bandhu
Award-winning actor who has worked on Broadway, Off Broadway, and in TV and film;

founding member of AAPAC (Asian American Performers Action Coalition), an organization formed to combat racism in the entertainment industry

Rubén Rosario Rodriguez
Theologian and author of Racism and God-Talk: A Latino/a Perspective

Ariela Gross
Historian, legal scholar, and author of What Blood Won’t Tell: A History of Race on Trial 
in America

Aimee Meredith Cox
Department of African and African American Studies, Fordham University

FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC
RSVP: crcevent@fordham.edu  |  212-636-7347
fordham.edu/ReligCulture

This forum coincides with Fordham Theatre Program’s Mainstage production:

We Are Proud to Present a Presentation About the Herero of Namibia, Formerly Known as Southwest Africa, From the German Sudwestafrika, Between the Years 1884-1915

by Jackie Sibblies Drury  |  Directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh

Performance Schedule
Wednesday through Friday, February 19 to 21, at 8 p.m.
Thursday through Saturday, February 27 to March 1, at 8 p.m.

fordham.edu/theatre

Asians have surpassed Hispanics as the largest wave of new immigrants to the United States …

Well, we may be a large (majority) minority group, but Hispanics are no longer the bees knees when it comes to migrant groups to the U.S.

The population of Asian descent has swelled to a record 18.2 million, which makes Asians the fastest-growing racial group in the country, according to a study released Tuesday by the Pew Research Center.

Read more in the New York Times story.