By now you've probably heard about the series of rather disturbing racial incidents that have occurred at the University of California - San Diego: first the Compton Cookout and second a noose hanging.
By "series", I'm including yet another tired attempt at workshopping away racism with "a teach-in on racial tolerance" (tolerance -- "a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry." -- is hardly respect and a far cry from anything remotely close to comraderie.)
What people never seem to get about these scenarios is that it makes the campus climate toxic for black students, as well as other ethnic minorities. As one recognizes that there's absolutely no help on the way, if even an acknowledgment of the magnitude of the problem, it becomes terrified anger.
Noose Found in UCSD Library, And The Compton Cookout Fallout Continues " SpeakEasy
Students of color are downright terrified. The climate on campus, according to UCSD students we have spoken with, is tense. Students of color are rightfully angry, but also terrified for their safety.
So perhaps it's best said this way: it would be completely irrational to feel comfort or safety in a place where people can publicly mock your entire race -- almost in defiance of Black History Month -- without consequence. Sure, racialized stressors happen everyday. But the thought of sharing classroom space with people who you don't trust because they have either actively acted in hateful ways, demeaned you, or dismissed your protests as overreactions is not a pleasant one. It needs to be taken seriously that nobody should have to pay tuition to subject themselves to this sort of nonsense.
With that in mind, this brief note about UCSD recruiting from Sue at the "They're Playing Basketball" blog should make a little more sense to those who are still celebrating our transition to a post-racial state after President Barack Obama's election.
They're Playing Basketball: A lil good, a lil not-that-great
You don't think the recent "Compton Cookout" racist debacle and ensuing protests at the [University of California - San Diego] has hurt recruiting? It has. I've talked to a few high school recruits who have crossed the school off their list, even after answering questionaires.
For the record, I don't even find this incident appalling. It happens to be the norm and it's been the norm for a long time. Well, I should rephrase -- it never stopped happening, as some people would love to believe. From Meera Bowman-Johnson of TheRoot.com:
An HBCU Grad Ponders UCSD Noose Hanging
Incidents like these have been taking place for quite some time across America's college campuses. They were the kind that prompted me to apply to Spelman College, in an effort to find refuge from racial hostility. Coming from a predominantly white high school, I purposefully chose not to attend an HWCU (historically white college or university) because I wanted to enjoy my college experience in an environment where racism wasn’t an issue. At an HBCU, the threat of white supremacy is never really an issue because black people make up most of the people there. I didn’t feel like I was limiting myself from developing a perspective of what the "real world" was like. I wanted a different world, so off I went.
I faced a similar situation coming out of high school and my dad gave me simple advice, the same reasoning used to send me to a predominately white private school since second grade to begin with: "It's a white man's world, you might as well get used to it."
So in my efforts to postpone a life of responsible adulthood by pursuing advanced degrees, I have attended three predominately white universities. At the first -- medium sized Mid-Atlantic university -- my friends and I confronted a group of white students about the Confederate flag they chose to hang in their dorm window. At the second -- a large Midwestern university -- I was called "boy" and yet was asked why it was fair that black students could organize for affirmative action while white students couldn't organize for white supremacy. At the third -- a large Northwest university -- I endured a discussion in a graduate level course on white privilege in which a white male shockingly attempted to establish his credibility with the class by saying, "And my fiancee is black -- she's my black queen."
A good friend of mine has said repeatedly to black undergrads who complain, "What did you expect? One big Freaknik celebration? An extended Juneteenth celebration? A Black Panther reunion? It's college -- it's for them, by them. We have to steal whatever education we get."
His sentiment might sound extreme, but not too dissimilar from my father's -- this is something that most black adults have come to accept as the reality of the college experience. Occasionally, complaining about it seems pointless -- this is just the way the world is, black people should just get used to it, right? We can say it shouldn't be that way, but it is and to allow it to impede one's education would be the worst possible outcome.
However, as a basketball recruit looking for a home to play a game they presumably enjoy for four years, going to a place with overt racial tension in addition to the subtle daily racialized stressors would be illogical, especially if there are other options on the list.
Recruiting, of course, is probably the least of the UCSD administration or Black Student Union's concerns. Then again, the recruits' reactions might be a perfect reflection of just how serious these concerns are to the students who have to endure it.