Yesterday evening, students came together to discuss, collectively, the racial injustice and discrimination on Skidmore’s campus and created a list of demands for the administration. This morning, the POCU staged a sit-in in front of Palamountain/Bolton and presented these demands.
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Skidmore’s Committee on Intercultural and Global Understanding will be sponsoring a lecture presented by legal scholar and civil rights advocate Michelle Alexander on Wednesday, Oct. 22nd in Zankel. Alexander will give a talk entitled “The New Jim Crow,” which will most likely sample some of the material covered in her first book The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness–in which she claims that “”[w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it.”
Published in 2010, The New Jim Crow received rave reviews and went on to win a slew of awards. Benjamin Todd Jealous of the NAACP wrote that the book “offers a timely and original framework for understanding mass incarceration, its roots to Jim Crow, our modern caste system, and what must be done to eliminate it. This book is a call to action.” Plus Cornel West called it the “secular bible for a new social movement in early twenty-first-century America,” so it doesn’t get much more badass than that.
Alexander, who currently hold a joint appointment at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity and the Moritz College of Law at OSU, has spent many years in the legal system advocating for justice in cases of gender and race discrimination. She’s worked at the Racial Justice Project at the ACLU, the Civil Rights Clinic at Stanford, and in both the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Court of Appeals.
As you can tell, this woman is pretty fucking incredible, seems like a very good speaker, and will no doubt have some very interesting things to say on an issue that has been at the focal point of the media and our cultural consciousness. Alexander writes in The New Jim Crow that “the future of the black community…may depend on the willingness of those who care about racial justice to re-examine their basic assumptions about the role of the criminal justice system in our society.”
Meanwhile, at Oberlin…
Classes at the Ohio liberal arts school were canceled today, after a person allegedly dressed in Ku Klux Klan robes was spotted near the African Heritage House. This is the latest in a recent series of racist, homophobic, and antisemitic incidents, according to The Oberlin Review and student blog Obie Microaggressions, both of which have exhaustively documented recent cases of bigotry on campus.
In addition to the spate of hate-related incidents, the College has come under fire for allegedly maintaining a secret “no-trespass list,” a collection of the names of townies and alumni banned from campus. Last week, the Oberlin Police Department leaked the list to the local paper. Gawker speculates that the discovery of the figure dressed in KKK robes is somehow related to this list, based on an anonymous source with access to the faculty mailing list. They further claim (and again, this is all rumor and hearsay) that the person responsible was somehow connected with Oberlin’s Multicultural Research Center, and as a result, the School has dropped the investigation.
I mean, this is all really, really bizarre, and I’ll try to keep up with the story as it develops. Fucking Oberlin, huh guys? Boy am I glad I ended up here instead.
UPDATE: According to Gawker, the Mystery of the Phantom Klansman may or may not have been solved. Turns out police were unable to locate the figure in robes, but did find a guy wrapped in a blanket, which basically reads like the plot of a bad Scooby-Doo episode.
Also, the perpetrators of the racist, homophobic, and antisemitic vandalism have apparently been caught, with the school disciplining them internally, so at least that’s good. No word yet on whether these morons are actually bigots, or if they were making some sort of “statement” about “free speech,” or if they were just being edgy and ironic. All three scenarios are possible.