Home > Uncategorized > LA Times Op-Ed: Don’t sweat the buffoons

LA Times Op-Ed: Don’t sweat the buffoons

Buffoons on college campuses are not heavyweight racists. The real villains — far more subtle — are those who believe in their own superiority.

bv: Gregory Rodriguez, 3.8.2010

News flash from UC San Diego: Party-animal frat boys sometimes engage in stupid, offensive and even racist stunts!

For weeks now, outrage over a fraternity party that encouraged guests to mimic and mock ghetto culture has embroiled the campus in La Jolla in old-school political theater. Then, in a separate incident, a noose was left in a university library (a student anonymously took responsibility and apologized). And finally, a pillowcase made to look like a KKK hood appeared atop a statue of Dr. Seuss.

In a diverse society, such incidents — which draw cleavages between groups — should be taken seriously. But such antics really don’t signify our race problem today, and no one should think that indignation, marches, sit-ins and “days of action” against buffoonery constitute an effective struggle against racism. It might be satisfying to draw lines against the clowns, but it diminishes the difficulty of the real challenge before us.

Racism exists; it’s still a significant inhibitor of social and economic progress. And given the country’s majority-minority future,we simply can’t afford not to be preparing more minorities for positions of authority and leadership.

This isn’t the unsubtle, in-your-face racism of your imagination. The real bad guys aren’t the easy to caricature toothless hillbillies of television dramas or some overweight, tobacco-chewing Southern sheriff straight out of a half-century-old Life magazine. They don’t leave nooses as calling cards.

Somewhere along the line, the fight against genuinely entrenched racism — the kind that keeps millions from achieving their dreams — turned into a slapstick struggle against ill-behaved clowns like Michael Richards, John Mayer and foolish frat boys.

A few years ago, while I was in Mississippi, I met a prominent self-described white supremacist who didn’t need a Klan hood to do more than his part to oppress African Americans. During the height of segregation, he didn’t torch crosses in the dark of night; instead, he wore a suit and tie and put the economic squeeze on fellow whites who didn’t toe his racist line. In my presence, he never once cursed blacks or used the “N-word.” You can be a highly effective racist without all the obvious trappings.

Click HERE for the rest of the article.

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. mariscal
    March 17, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    Terrible article focused on individuals and their peculiar attitudes. The problem at UCSD was/is institutional. The larger frame is the decline of public higher education in Cali. Rodriguez should have done some reporting and talked to students at the La Jolla campus before weighing in on an issue he knows nothing about.

  2. UCSD
    March 19, 2010 at 4:18 pm


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