Cartoon flap at UK not uniqueRACIAL DEPICTIONS SPARK OUTRAGEAT OTHER SCHOOLS
In the wake of the outcry that followed the publication of a racially charged editorial cartoon in the Kentucky Kernel, many University of Kentucky students and faculty members have said they want to see a negative situation turned into a positive.
They want to use the controversy as a springboard to leap over a barrier.
However, UK is wrestling with a beast that is by no means unique.
The Kernel, UK's student newspaper, is one of four college papers during the last month to come under fire for publishing racially tinged or offensive cartoons that were widely rejected by the campus community and beyond. All four were targeted with protests, made local or national headlines and became topics of discussion in forums on campus diversity.
The campus controversies occur against a national backdrop of racial incidents that have surfaced since the headline-grabbing case of the "Jena Six." Six black teens in Jena, a small town in Louisiana, were charged with beating a white student after a series of racial incidents that included white students hanging nooses from a schoolyard tree.
The case led to protests and marches in Jena and at many college campuses, including UK.Since then, a noose was tied to the door of a black professor at Columbia University, and Kent State University was investigating rumors of a noose hanging in a professor's office in the department of Pan-African Studies. At UK, police are still investigating a racial epithet scrawled on a black student's dorm room door after the protests over the cartoon.
Experts say universities are prone to racial flare-ups for a number of reasons. Students from diverse backgrounds have different levels of racial consciousness. For some, it is the first time they've had to mingle closely with other races. Many have to overcome racial attitudes bequeathed to them by parents and grandparents......Other examplesCampus: University of ArizonaWhen: Oct. 9Publication: The Daily WildcatCartoon: Drawn by Joseph Topmiller, it depicts a credit card receipt for a restaurant showing a 7 percent tip signed "Mark Goldfarb." Beneath it was the line: "Attention all crappy tipping Jews!!! Just because you're screwing the server ... does not mean that it's a mitzvah." (A mitzvah is a good deed.)The fallout: The newspaper was bombarded with calls and e-mails from angry readers who said the paper was racist and anti-Semitic, said Allison Hornick, editor in chief. University President Robert Shelton wrote a letter expressing his "profound disappointment that the Wildcat would publish what is clearly an anti-Semitic cartoon." Hornick wrote a published apology.Campus: The University of VirginiaWhen: Sept. 4Publication: The Cavalier DailyCartoon: Grant Woolard's work depicted several men wearing loincloths and fighting with various objects. The title was "Ethiopian Food Fight."The fallout: Readers said the cartoon degraded the people of Ethiopia. Faculty and staff members peppered the newspaper's staff with calls and e-mails. More than 100 students gathered for a silent protest outside the Cavalier Daily offices. An apology was issued and the cartoon was removed from the paper's Web site. Woolard was forced to resign.Campus: Central Connecticut State UniversityWhen: Sept. 12Publication: The RecorderCartoon: The Recorder published a three-frame comic titled "Polydongs." The cartoon featured two talking shapes conversing about kidnapping a 14-year-old Latino girl, putting her in a closet and then urinating on her. A disclaimer at the bottom of the strip read, "The Recorder does not support the kidnapping of (and subsequent urinating on) children of any age or ethnicity."The fallout: The cartoon outraged many Latino and minority students.
It also ran months after the paper was criticized for publishing a satirical article titled "Rape only hurts if you fight it." A protest ensued, and school administrators spoke out against the cartoon. University president Jack Miller ordered the school to pull its advertising from the publication.
But some schools are promoting a discussion by inviting programs to campus that expose stereotypes, reduce the power of some kinds of language, and even poke fun at ourselves.
For example, Eastern Kentucky University has invited the play "N*gger, Wetb*ck, Ch*nk" to campus this spring. The play features three performers who use comedy to "depower" racial slurs, reminiscent of Lenny Bruce's comedic efforts of the early 1960s.
Opening Scene from You Tube.
The List Game from You tube.
Meanwhile at Lville...C-J says:
Diversity at U of L
The racial segregation of students eating, studying and visiting with other students at the University of Louisville's Student Activity Center has prompted a campus dialogue.
U of L President James R. Ramsey seeks to diversify the campus using goals and initiatives from past civil rights issues, including increasing minority enrollments.
And at NKU the collegiate chapter of the NAACP buried derogatory words in a mock funeral. The event followed the burial of the "N-word" by the NAACP in Detroit earlier this year. An NKU professor spoke on the topic, "Ignorance is not an excuse anymore."
Our national distress over issues of race relate to the ways in which whites and African Americans have come to view their own and each other's opportunities. Since the 1960s white Americans have seen African Americans as having better and better chances to achieve "the American Dream." At the same time middle-class blacks, by now one-third of the African American population, have become increasingly frustrated personally and anxious about the progress of their race. Most poor blacks, however, cling with astonishing strength to the notion that they and their families can succeed--despite their terrible, perhaps worsening, living conditions.
Jennifer Hochschild argues in her award-winning volume Facing Up to the American Dream: Race, Class, and the Soul of the Nation that the American Dream - America's only unifying vision - could vanish in the face of racial conflict and discontent.
Out of the spotlight, discussions arise in university classes. Much of the interest (it seems from my limited perspective) is being generated by students themselves. Young professionals want to know how race may bear on their ability to do their jobs and get ahead in life. They'd like the opportunity do that job without the baggage of race - but they know better. They know race remains a factor.
The ideology of the American Dream--the faith that every individual can attain success and virtue through strenuous effort--is the very soul of the American nation. To believe the dream, Americans must see others - who are like themselves - achieving the dream.
Today's students seem to want to confront the issues and they lack the fatigue of the older generations.
It makes me wonder. Is there a renewed interest among young elites to grapple with, and perhaps resolve, America's long-standing guilt and anger over racial issues? If so, we're likely to see more edgy (and perhaps insensitive) expressions in the future.