this isn’t racism?

 

 

For Calhoun College students who fought for the name change, returning to campus to see signs for “Grace Hopper College” was energizing. “I think for a lot of people this summer has shown that it’s sort of beyond this ivory tower intellectual debate,” Maya Jenkins, a Hopper senior, said on Friday.

Admiral Hopper helped build the nation’s first electromechanical computer, developed the first compiler, proposed the idea of writing computer programs in words rather than symbols, and retired from the Navy at age 79.

Not that the university went far enough, Ms. Jenkins, a black student from Indiana, added in an email. “The college being renamed after a white woman does not fully rectify the violences of Calhoun’s legacy,” she wrote.

The university has opened two new residential colleges this semester, one named for a black Yale Law School alumna and civil rights leader, Anna Pauline Murray, and the other for Benjamin Franklin. The latter decision, too, has left many people “a little miffed,” said Vivian Dang, a Hopper College junior. “It’s another old white guy being honored.”

 

— “Calhoun Who? Yale Drops Name of Slavery Advocate for Computer Pioneer,” by Andy Newman and Vivian Wang, The New York Times, September 3, 2017

 

 

*****************************************************

 

It’s not permissible any longer to honor a “white woman” and a “white guy”?

And, by the way, what is white, anyway, and what is black? When it comes to racial categories, that is.

Whites are not really white and blacks are not really black. Were my skin white, I would probably scare a lot of people.

I am a mixture of ethnicities and genes, as are all peoples and racial groups. Don’t we all have common ancestry?

There is such diversity in ethic groupings that it seems nonsensical to me to sort them into ironclad groupings. The groupings were made up by someone or other who manufactured them out of thin air, bureaucrats; they ignore many ethnic groups and sort them almost willy-nilly.

But, people will say, we are talking here about two identifiable groups: whites, meaning the population that is not black (excluding other minorities such as Asians and Hispanics) and African Americans, with one group being historically privileged (at least by comparison with the African American minority) and the other oppressed, both historically and, in many cases, still oppressed, as current events show.

I wish we could admire people for their individual qualities, as Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. urged. I wish we could welcome and respect ethnic and cultural diversity and recognize and acknowledge historical injustices without having to resort to racial stereotyping in the here and now.

 

 

— Roger W. Smith

   September 2017

About Roger W. Smith

Roger W. Smith is a writer and independent scholar based in New York City. His experience includes freelance writing and editing, business writing, book reviewing, and the teaching of writing and literature as an adjunct professor. Mr. Smith's interests include personal essays and opinion pieces; American and world literature; culture, especially books and reading; current issues that involve social, moral, and philosophical views; and experiences of daily living from a ground level perspective. Besides (1) rogersgleanings.com, a personal site, he also hosts websites devoted to (2) the author Theodore Dreiser and (3) to the sociologist and social philosopher Pitirim A. Sorokin.
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2 Responses to this isn’t racism?

  1. Tom Riggio says:

    Mainly agree, but good luck!

  2. Tom — which I guess means, you are not sanguine about the prospects for ——(harmony? understanding?) when it comes to such matters. I acknowledge this.

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