Students of Skidmore College: I believe that those of you who walked out of classes "in protest of racism and in solidarity with the protests at the University of Missouri" have exercised poor judgement, encouraged by Skidmore College President Phillip A. Glotzbach and the faculty and staff of Skidmore. I base my opinions on an article posted on the Campus Reform web site: Skidmore College president encourages student walkout by Peter Hasson (Nov. 17, 2015).
You have heard the cliche "think outside of the box." Sometimes it is good advice. I believe the intellectual box you are in consists of these and similar propositions:
The Campus Reform article quotes a message from the Skidmore People of Color Union (SPOCU) giving the rationale for the walkout:
This walk out is intended to intentionally disrupt our normal daily lives to show how often and how abruptly people of colors [sic] lives are interrupted by acts of racism. . .Yes. In small ways and sometimes in large ways, disruption can be a tool for intellectual progress, for positive change. There are no guarantees. In the "politically correct" ambience of contemporary higher education, disruption is a tool for solidifying pre-existing opinions and sentiments. It is affectation, not enlightenment.
Note the wording of the above quote. Do average white Skidmore students write like that? I would hope not. More importantly, is it really true that the lives of black people are often and abruptly "interrupted by acts of racism"?
I honestly do not think so. If it were true, then why are government agencies engaged in a covert effort to relocate poor black families our of poor black neighborhoods, where there is presumably no anti-black racism, into prosperous, mostly white neighborhoods where anti-black racism, according to the SPOCU premise, would be rampant? (Housing policies still pin poor in Baltimore, but some escape to suburbs by Doug Donovan, Baltimore Sun, Dec 15, 2015) Why would 100,000 black families put themselves on a waiting list for such relocation?
My hunch is that 2016, the final year of the Obama administration, will see more campus racial activism than the previous seven years all put together. There will be demonstrations, obstructions, accusations, speeches, impassioned editorials, exhortations and highly slanted "news" articles.
You will need to develop a critical perspective to get insight into what is actually going on. To that end, I suggest that you read some of my previous blog posts, especially White Students at the University of Missouri: What you need to know, what you might do. The main index page of this web site has links to commentary on other current instances of campus racial activism. For historical context, read Virtual Racism at the University of Michigan in the Winter of 1987.
I've also written about Ferguson, Baltimore, etc. The following articles illustrate my approach to critical thinking:
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