Skip to comments.Africana Prof Accused of Making Sexist Comments
Posted on 04/12/2010 7:07:03 AM PDT by Behind Liberal Lines
ITHACA, NY-Two months after an Africana professor allegedly called two black graduate students black bitches, members and allies of the Africana community undergraduate and graduate students, faculty and alumni alike have begun to speak out more fervently about the issue.
Earlier this year, Prof. Grant Farred, English and Africana studies, invited two of his advisees both female graduate students who wish to remain anonymous to attend a Feb. 5 and 6 conference at the University of Rochester entitled Theorizing Black Studies: Thinking Black Intellectuals.
The two students arrived late to a conference panel, after which Farred walked over and thanked them for making it out to the conference. According to one of the two students present, Farred then lowered his voice and said, When you both walked in, I thought, Who are these black bitches?
When the two students visibly expressed shock at the remark, the student said Farred changed the subject and, soon after, walked away. She said that both she and the other student later told Farred that his comment was offensive. She said he quickly apologized, saying that that he had meant no harm.
Following the incident, the two students informed other graduate students in the Africana community of the matter and also contacted several faculty. Eventually, word reached Prof. Salah Hassan, director of the Africana Studies and Research Center, at which point a University investigation was launched.
The students involved in the incident questioned the lack of propriety in Farreds remark.
In what context did [Prof. Farred] think such a remark would be appropriate to say, the one student interviewed for this story said.
In the wake of Farreds remarks, members of the Africanaand larger Cornell community have expressed concern and outrage through open letters addressed to Hassan in addition to University administrators, including President David Skorton and Provost Kent Fuchs.
Most recently, an open letter signed by 39 alumni and released last Tuesday and reprinted in todays Sun publicly condemned the actions of Farred and the inaction of Hassan; it also advocated an open meeting for all concerned members of the community.
When asked about the details of the incident and his alleged remark, Farred declined to comment.
This [incident] isnt an allegation. Professor Farred has already admitted making these remarks to Deputy Provost David Harris, one student involved in the situation said
Hassan, the director of the Africana Center, issued an e-mail response to an open letter that several alumni issued condemning the incident last week.
The remarks are certainly racist, sexist and utterly ugly. No one deserves to be addressed in such a manner, let alone two black women graduate students in a program, like Africana, borne out of the struggle against injustice and all forms of discrimination, Hassan stated in the e-mail, sent Apr. 6. What makes the remarks even more egregious that they were [uttered] by an educator.
Hassans written response included a letter detailing the comprehensive steps that have been taken to address the incident. According to the letter, Farred, who was Director of Graduate Studies in the ASRC at the time of the incident, was promptly removed from his position. Additionally, a special faculty meeting was held amongst Africana faculty to discuss the incident, and Fared was asked to not participate in the 40th anniversary of the ASRC occuring this week. Hassan declined to comment beyond his written statement.
Faculty and students who have heard about the incident have expressed dismay and disappointment not only with Farreds alleged words, but also the handling of the incident by Africana leadership.
According to Candace Katungi grad, Hassans response last week was the first public acknowledgement of the incident.
I think [Hassan has] been forced to address this issue now that many alumni have been alerted about [the situation], she said. I dont understand why there has been so much silence around this issue, because its one that needs to be addressed.
Prof. Margaret Washington, history, decried the incident as absolutely disgusting and despicable and discussed how the situation has cast doubt upon the notion of Africana as a safe space.
This [institution] is supposed to be a safe environment, she said. Black female students should feel safe in Africana, but they dont right now. They feel vulnerable right now.
What really tore at my heartstrings was to hear [one of the two female students involved] admit that she feels uncomfortable walking into the Africana Center and that the incident has created enormous tension among graduate students and faculty, La TaSha Levy M.P.S. 06, who has been advising the two students about the incident, said. I could not fathom that these two students could attend a conference on theorizing black intellectuals and still be reduced to black bitches by their professor and advisor.
Another professor, who wished to remain anonymous for fear of retributive action, denounced Farreds alleged comment to the two graduate students as an [extremely] racist and sexist remark that projected an image of patriarchy.
Incidents like this only serve to foster a sexist environment that is becoming even worse. We are supposed to be nurturing students, not demoralizing them, the professor said. In the 40 years that Africana has been here, it has never seen a female director. All that does is promote a culture of fear and terror rooted in male chauvinism.
This is not a matter of incivility or of a person making a crude joke, Levy said. This is a matter of a man who is in a position of power over students, who used that dynamic to degrade Black women, and they were traumatized by it. Many of us are.
I dont think that any one person especially the professor in question is bigger than the Africana community, so his ridiculous behavior shouldnt reflect on Africana, but I do think that the leadership at Africana could have handled this a lot better, Navid Farnia 09 said. Current graduate students have been pleading for an open community forum for all who are invested in the Africana community for weeks now, and the fact that this forum hasnt taken place yet is more detrimental to the community as a whole than any actions of one single professor.
Undergraduate students, like the alumni, have also been calling for an open discussion of the incident as well a larger conversation regarding racism and sexism.
There should be some open dialogue, especially since the particular comments by [Prof. Farred] represent a blatant intersection of racism and sexism that black women experience, Tia Hicks 11 said. Yet there is silence. If the silence and inaction continues, then then the very basis on which Africana was founded and the scholarship that the center is producing becomes futile.
According to Washington, Farreds alleged remark has implications that transcend the scope of African-American women.
As a gender bias issue, its so much bigger than just African American women. It applies to all women, she said.
Thu-Huong Nguyen 11, an undergraduate student in Africana, echoed Washington's sentiment and also expressed solidarity with members of the Africana community who have condemned Farred's remarks.
I believe this instance of race and gender bias is very telling, she said. It goes to show that gender oppression continues to pose a very real and very significant problem that may sometimes be overlooked and that is a dangerous thing to do.
The incident will be the focus of discussion this Wednesday at the ASRC, where graduate students will host an Urgent Africana Meeting to make recomendations to the University for the immediate improvement of the situation and environment created as a result. The University is currently investigating the incident.
I’s majoring in Africana!
africana? how does that differ from african, and if this a new word that we need to be aware of?
This never happens in the White Studies department...
If it was Lil’ Wayne it would be a complement.
Black studies professor hung on his own petard.
Yo, Homeboy be talking da language of dee streets, cuz them bitches is either bitches or ho’s. Word.
“Is majoring in Africana!”
That major diplays the kind of academic rigor needed for this nation to thrive in the 21st century.
Move along , nothing to see here, he’s black so there’s no offense.
Ya, I wondered the same thing. Is “Africana” a new term? I haven’t heard it before. Is it a term which includes American born blacks, as well as African born students? Are they trying to show sophistication with such a term?
Is it just a new politically correct term, which will be used to show that those of us outside that community are racists because we aren’t aware of the term?
You misspelled “werd.”
That's what I would like to know. I cannot imagine any circumstance under which such a remark would be appropriate...amusing...clever...friendly(?)...anything but ugly. Can you???
Never mind the sexual and racial aspects--under what circumstance could a professor appropriately refer to students as "bitches"?
I'm at a loss. Somebody, help me.
Worse than an Imus moment? True, Imus was speaking over
the public air waves. But he was just trying to be
funny. No way Farred will face similar sanctions.
It’s only racist if he calls them “nappy-headed hoes”
I can see being insulted. Certainly. But TRAUMATIZED??????????????????
That was his pickup line, it was supposed to turn them on!
"Yet another tape of anti-lacrosse extremist Grant Farred has surfacedthis one from a September address he gave on the Duke campus. In these remarks, the Group of 88 stalwart touched on some of the same themes he raised in his Williams talk last month. But three critical differences existed between the two talks.
First, Farred much more explicitly denounced Duke students beyond the lacrosse team.
Second, Farred approvingly quoted from the March 29, 2006 letter of Houston Baker, who advocated the immediate expulsion from Duke of the entire lacrosse team.
Third, while Farred claimed at Williams (after all charges had been dismissed) that he was indicting the lacrosse team for its pre-March 13 behavior, the main thrust of his September talk was the team party and the resulting charges. Nor did he make any mention of perjury or hate crimesthe two offenses with which he specifically charged lacrosse players in his Williams talk.
The tone, and in some cases, the words of the two talks were the same. But the offenses differed. It appears that Farred has flexible criteria for denunciation, as long as he could continue to denounce the privileged white boys.
Children wanting to be adults? Perpetuating racism born in ebonics, illiteracy and ignorance of the street? Why should there be cash paying students for this? Or is this stimulus money at work?
I dunno, your guess is as good as mine...
The Africana Studies undergraduate major prepares students for a broad range of academic and professional careers relevant to both the public and private sectors. The Center has a history of shaping students' intellectual discipline, creativity, and social and politicalawareness.
My guess is that calling students "black b__ches" is either shaping their creativitiy or making them politically aware.
...reminds me of a certain community organizer...
Mao suits are so 1960s.
You don’t understand it because yer racist!
This is so far beyond stupid that it’s almost impossible to comment. A normal person might respond, “Well, you’re an *sshole, aren’t you?” or even, “F*** you, cretin.”
But only crazy people would be traumatized by a rude remark ... and who is more likely to be crazy, in today’s world, than graduate students who are participants in the “Africana community,” whatever the FReep that is.
It most certainly is a city of evil, find a poster who boasts of an Ithaca connection and malevolence seeps out from their oily hides.
Victimization 101 thru 401
Blame Whitey 101-to grad school.
Reparations 101-grad school.
Trash talk and Spin 101-401.
Ping! Another worm turns...
In its earliest years during frontier days, what is now Ithaca was briefly known by the names “The Flats” and “Sodom,” the name of the Biblical city of sin, due to its reputation as a town of “notorious immorality”, a place of horse racing, gambling, profanity, Sabbath breaking, and readily available liquor. These names did not last long; Simeon DeWitt renamed the town Ithaca in the early 1800s, though nearby Robert H. Treman State Park still contains Lucifer Falls. (100 yards from my house)
That early reputation for immorality, together with its more recent reputation as having a left-leaning population, has once again made Ithaca mildly infamous in some circles as the “City of Evil,” due to a satirical campaign by members of a politically conservative online discussion board. Some Ithacans, and those from surrounding areas, have embraced the label, although it's not certain how many. According to religious conservatives, this idea is further buoyed by Cornell University's early nickname, “the godless university” which came about due to their lack of affiliation with any organized religion.
In addition to its above-mentioned liberal politics, Ithaca is commonly listed among the most culturally liberal of American small cities. The Utne Reader named Ithaca “America's most enlightened town” in 1997. According to ePodunk’s Gay Index, Ithaca has a score of 231, versus a national average score of 100.
In July 2006, Ithaca was listed as one of the “12 Hippest Hometowns for Vegetarians” by VegNews Magazine and chosen by Mother Earth News as one of the “12 Great Places You've Never Heard Of.”
Politically, the city's population has a significant tilt towards liberalism and the Democratic Party. A November, 2004 study by ePodunk lists it as New York's most liberal town. This contrasts with the more conservative leanings of the surrounding Upstate New York region, and is also somewhat more liberal than the rest of Tompkins County. In 1988 Jesse Jackson received the most votes in Ithaca in the Democratic Presidential primary. In 2000 Ralph Nader received more votes for President than George W. Bush in the City of Ithaca, and 11% county-wide. In 2008, Barack Obama, running against New York State's Senator Hillary Clinton, won Tompkins County in the Democratic Presidential Primary, the only county that he won in New York State. Obama went on to win Tompkins County (including Ithaca) by a wide margin of 41% over his opponent John McCain in the November 2008 election
Ithacans are widely considered to be oriented towards peace. In June 2008, local peace activist Trevor Dougherty led almost 6,000 members of the Ithaca community in forming a giant human peace sign. This event took part during the Ithaca Festival, making Ithaca the unofficial home of the world's largest human peace sign.
Ithaca has also pioneered the Ithaca Health Fund, a popular cooperative health insurance. Ithaca is also home to one of the United States’ first local currency systems, Ithaca Hours, developed by Paul Glover (building on the pioneering work of Ralph Borsodi and Robert Swann).
Is this satire?
>>The Africana Studies undergraduate major prepares students for a broad range of academic and professional careers relevant to both the public and private sectors. The Center has a history of shaping students’ intellectual discipline, creativity, and social and political awareness.<<
If they had included “showing up on time” in their curricula, this whole thing never woulda happened...
Good grief, does he drive a Trabant?
Outrageous. The culturally sensitive comment, of course, would have been “hos”.
This guy has got to be made an example of.
What?? Speak English jerk.
He’s got a nice Mao suit though.
Apparently...... all snitches is bitches yo; a'ite.
Lemme go git my learn on. Im goan get my Africana mastahs; you suckas be callin me mastah.
Black Studies programs are a farce. The same goes for Women’s Studies and Homosexual Studies. The only purpose they serve is to alienate Americans and allow academic hustlers to make money.
Huh? You quote the Scripture? You are a Christian?
The same elegance I'm paying for when the good majority of folks with this attitude quit school and get pregnant out of wedlock.... for examples of this reference "Detroit," "Chicago," "Buffalo," "Atlanta."
You must have missed the irony in a "professor" of multi-cultural classes designed to teach such enlightenment being branded a sexist...... ie the race card's sister.
Now, that's not to say that this is a representation of all blacks.... by no means. I serve with a good many and crap like what's in this article pisses them off to no end.
And further just because I am a Christian doesn't mean I can't point out ignorance or victimology when I see it.
It was a pop culture reference to enhance a point similar to the topic.
Can he be a racist if he’s a lefty?
How can you call him a jerk? He’s an intellectual.
You are right. I missed it. I do not watch Chris Rock. He has made a career using writers who think that anything anti-Republican or anti-conservative is funny.
I always get a little touchy about black jargon. What it represents to me is the destruction of my people by leftist politicians and teachers. I’ll never get over the idiocy of that grant proposal to spend 75 grand on teaching teachers to speak ebonics.
What it meant was that tax dollars were going to be spent teaching teachers to speak the fractured, almost unintelligable jargon spoken in the inner cities. Teachers are supposed to teach students to speak ENGLISH. They fail miserably, then want to teach teachers to speak gibberish. My head threatens to pop even writing about it.
I apologize for the over-reaction.
“Looks like Farred stole Dr. Evil’s wardrobe.”
“Good grief, does he drive a Trabant?”
The Trabant - 2-cycle, clouds of greasy oil smoke: the Anti-Prius.