Does race play into decision making? Harvard expels black student after murder on campus

May 27, 2009

Have you ever been around someone who racially/ethnically counts or totals up their friends/co-workers or colleagues? When they do that, do you ever call them a racist?  It’s fun, you should try it some time.  See how defensive they get.

Friend: Why do (fill in the blank group) do that?

Me: Do what?  What are you a racist?

F: NO, NO! I have (x number) of friends! I didn’t mean it like that!

M: What did you mean then?  Am I supposed to essentialize the characteristics of some group into a simple answer?

This also works when people expect you to speak for your ethnic/gender/social orientation.  You can get a lot of kicks from that, and it becomes a teachable moment for a lot of people to watch what they say.

That is what some people are thinking when they see you...

I got to spend some time in Boston when I was younger.  My girlfriend, who convinced me to move to Minnesota, attempted to convince me to move to Boston.  I didn’t really feel Boston as a town and I didn’t know anyone there, so I resisted change and eventually she moved and we attempted a long distance relationship and it fizzled out.

I resisted Boston, because of a bad rep the city had.  As someone who follows sports fanatically, I have always been turned off on Boston, due to the fact the black players always talked trash about the city.

Boston Magazine has an article devoted to the perception of the city and the allegations of racism. The lens is initially focusing on the Kevin Garnett trade (circa start of the 2007 season) to the Boston Celtics. (and we all remember how well it worked out)

First of all, it’s a bad team,” Wilbon opined. “Second of all, you have this history of bigotry against African-American people in Boston. The only place I’ve ever been confronted, multiple times, and been called the n-word to my face, is specifically the Boston Garden…. The fact is, Boston has that history, and black players know that, and they do not want to go voluntarily to Boston.” When asked by Patrick whether he thought that perception factored into Garnett’s unwillingness to be traded here, Wilbon said, “I know it does. Yeah. Sure. Absolutely.” He later added that racism “might have been our issue at one point, but now it’s [Boston’s] issue.”

There were qualifiers before and after those comments. Wilbon credited the Celtics for being one of the first teams in the NBA to feature black players. And he stipulated that he didn’t think Boston today is much different from other major cities. But that didn’t matter. All anyone heard was Wilbon calling Boston racist. And that’s all anyone needed to hear.

Now, I have been to Boston several times, before this and after the deal.  Boston is really like any other town to me.  You have enclaves or pockets of areas that are not diverse, just like most places in America.  It isn’t warm and friendly, but point to a big city that is.  Gary Matthews Jr, an outfielder on the Angels (who also stinks as a fantasy player, since he is their 5th OF, only playing due to a rash of injuries in the OF) speaks on the subject.

“They’re loud, they’re drunk, they’re obnoxious,” Matthews told the Los Angeles Times, referring to Sox fans, and added that Fenway is “one of the few places you’ll hear racial comments.” It was an extemporaneous remark, one the reporter never asked him to elaborate on or provide specifics for—and as casually as it was thrown out, it was just as readily accepted as fact, with other national outlets, once again, quickly picking up the story. In that way, it smacked of a familiar pattern: Every few years, someone in the sports world comes along and says something similar. (Back in 2004, it was Barry Bonds telling reporters he wouldn’t play here because “it’s too racist.”)

Basic History would tell us of Boston’s racist past.  There were parts of the outlying community and places inside the city that blacks were not welcome.

Normally, if you are rich, you transcend race.  It’s one of the reasons that O.J. still gets talked about and defended by blacks and whites is that his physical greatness was so remarkable, that people overlooked race.  With Bill Russell, he paints a different and racist story about Boston. For whatever reason, his race trumped his athletic ability. (For those of you who don’t know who he is, just know that he is one of the greatest ever in basketball, point blank, period.)

Celtics Hall of Famer Bill Russell may have been named one of the NBA’s 50 greatest players, but that didn’t shield him from bigotry during his playing days. Russell, who once called Boston a “flea market of racism,” even had vandals break into his home just to defecate in his bed.

But, racism is a part of most cities past.  Why cant we move on from the admittedly horrible past?  Because it is too fresh in our minds and the images are burned into our memory.  When you include busing as part of the issue, that brings memories that I only tie in with the south.  As a black man, I can tell you that one place I will never live is in the South.

They look as though they could be your neighbor, or in your church...

They look as though they could be your neighbor, or in your church...

Look at the picture above.  It looks like middle class mothers are fighting for something.  Unfortunately, what they are fighting is to prevent busing and de-segregation in Boston during the 70’s.

Imagine that is our daily routine.  You get up, take a shower, and have some breakfast.  Your mom packs your lunch and tells you to, “Have a good day.”  You give her a peck on the cheek, go to the corner and get on the bus.  As someone who was bused in the 70’s to go to Kensington Elementary in Kensington, CA, that resonates with me.  We didn’t need any of the armed guards, and people actually welcomed us, but I could feel their unease at different surroundings. Now place yourself in their shoes…

So, Boston, you have a well deserved skeptism from black people…The Boston Magazine continues

More than anything, we have busing to thank for that reputation. There’s no getting around it. Instead of inspiring racial harmony, the experiment failed miserably as white parents threw stones at busloads of frightened black children without compunction. Boston has been known ever since as the racist city of segregated enclaves like Southie and Charlestown.

Is this as close as White America wants Blacks to get to Harvard?

Of course not.  We have come too far to say that.  But, can we say that race matters and effects all aspects of our life?  Absolutely.

The recent happenings at Harvard seem to prove this thesis true.  Lets get a look at what has happened recently. The Times Online reports…

Harvard University is embroiled in a scandal involving drugs, murder and allegations of racism after a man was shot dead on campus.

The murder last week of Justin Cosby, an alleged drug dealer, has stunned America’s oldest Ivy League institution. The expulsion of a female student believed to be linked to the killing has added to the university’s problems after she claimed that she was being targeted because she was black and poor.

Chanequa Campbell, 21, who grew up in a rough, working-class Brooklyn neighbourhood, was admitted to Harvard after winning scholarships from The New York Times and Coca-Cola, and was due to graduate next month. She was ordered off campus last week.

Now, first, you have to get past her name.  I could go off on a whole post about crazy names people give their children, but that is for a different time.  Second, she has to be smart as hell.  She is (or was) about to get out of there with a degree, and she had won some big scholarships.

Race has something to do with this.  Ms. Campbell thinks so, and I am inclined to agree with her.

“I do believe that I am being singled out . . . the honest answer is I’m black and I’m poor,” Ms Campbell told The Boston Globe.

“I’m from New York and I walk in a certain way and I keep my clothes in a certain way. It’s something that labels me as different from everyone else.”

Here is the perspective (very brief)  of the Harvard Administration.

A Harvard official said that the university had taken “appropriate steps”.

I was left wondering what steps were those.  I would hope that there would be some sort of review process, and hearings to determine her outcome, but the article does not go into more depth.  But, at the point the police have not charged her with anything, why expel her BEFORE the case has even gone to trial?

Ms Campbell is believed to have been expelled from the university — the alma mater of Barack Obama and seven former US presidents — because of her alleged involvement in the death of Mr Cosby, 21, which prosecutors say was a botched robbery.

In reading the rest of the story, they never seem to connect the dots to explain WHY SHE WAS EXPELLED.  The best rationale that I can come up with is that she knew the someone who knew the killer.  Yeah, it’s that flimsy…

One issue is how the alleged killer gained access to the dormitory. Officials say that he obtained a security pass from a Harvard student.

Ms Campbell said that she lived in Kirkland annex and not in Kirkland House, where Mr Cosby was shot, and insisted that Mr Copney did not use her Harvard card to get in.

Gerard Leone, the district attorney prosecuting the case, said that Mr Copney, the son of a retired New York police officer, had travelled to Harvard with the intent of robbing Mr Cosby, who was unarmed. “During the course of the rip-off, things go bad and Justin Cosby gets shot to death,” Mr Leone said.

Prosecutors said that Mr Cosby was “visiting friends on the campus”. He was confronted by Mr Copney and “during the course of the confrontation, multiple shots were fired. One of those shots struck Cosby, resulting in his death.” After he was shot, the victim ran up a street before collapsing. He died several hours later in hospital.

Ms Campbell said: “I have no knowledge of anything that happened, none whatsoever.” She said that she was taking a final exam on the afternoon of the murder.

With evidence like that, what other conclusion should/could you come up with outside of race, or general incompetence? Fight the power!

2 Responses to “Does race play into decision making? Harvard expels black student after murder on campus”

  1. amtodd said

    wow. i also keep my clothes in a certain way.

  2. Steve said

    but, you also count the number of black friends you have… and I know its on maybe two hands, and one foot. You are a racist!

    and so am I for counting for you…

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