Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Higher Learning?

One reason I love blogging is because of all the wonderful e-mails I get from people all over the country. People send me stories all the time about shit that I still can't believe goes on.

I recently got the following story from an e-mailer named Aaisha. ( I promised I wouldn't reveal her full name) The shit happened months ago, but I just had to post this story.

I mean it's HAAAVARD for crying out loud! This is where we cultivate our brightest and our best to go out into the world and represent. (Although I am reading a very wonderful book now that says otherwise) If these brilliant and enlightened students have a fear of a potential brown planet; just what the hell do you think "Joe six pack" in Huntsville, Alabama will be thinking? Here is a hint; it ain't let's hold hands and sing Kumbaya.

So here is the paste job:

"Last weekend, on the bucolic Quad at Harvard University—typically, the site of a casual game of Ultimate, or perhaps an afternoon reading of some Shakespearean sonnets before English class—an unusual and, to some, frightening scene was played out. There were people throwing things! And running! And jumping! And most scary of all, every single one of them was black. So the Harvard students watching from their dormitory windows, growing increasingly agitated at the sights below, did what any normal, white Harvard student would do when they saw a large, seemingly unruly group of black people: They called the cops!
Except, well, oops—turns out it was just the Harvard Black Men's Forum and Association of Black Harvard Women:

As members of the groups played games of dodgeball and capture-the-flag in the Quad as part of the annual "BMF-ABHW Challenge," Cabot House residents fired off a string of impassioned e-mails questioning students' presence on the public lawn—and whether they were students at all. Eventually, the Harvard University Police Department was called about the commotion, and officers asked the students to "keep the noise down," according to police spokesman Steven G. Catalano. Perhaps croquet would have been more appropriate? "

I swear, we can't put those rowdy and loud black people anywhere. You would think that since they all are at Harvard they would know better and would at least try to avoid getting their asses Rodney Kinged. They all better watch it; I bet those night sticks hurt just as much in Cambridge as they do in L.A.


Hathor said...

Didn't something similar happened at Penn a few years ago.
Its amazing how staid and Alito like these upper crust students become when black students are themselves.

Anonymous said...

Not surprised at all. Not in the least.

rikyrah said...

Sorry, above was me, and you'll have to go a long way to convince me if it was a bunch of White Boys and Grisl on the Quad that the phone would have been picked up.

I'm not believing it in the least.

Think about the logic of ' are they even Harvard students'...like Black folk from Roxbury and Dorchester don't have anything better to do than to travel ALLLL the way to Cambridge to have a pickup game.

Yeah, right, whatever.

Anonymous said...

First, Field, please check out my just posted comments to the thread on the accused New Jersey political scandal. I am interested in your reaction.

About this post, I find this story particularly telling about the extent of white racism because a much higher percentage of the Black students at Harvard are or appear mixed race--very light. (Notwithstanding Harvard's storied outreach, their students of color tend to be elites,many hefty beneficiares of the spoils of white privilege.) Those who are not of mixed race or apparent privilege, scream college student. The great majority could hardly be mistaken for a Roxbury resident by anyone who can see anything more than skin color. (Of course, here, I don't mean to suggest that the negative presumptions would be appropriate in regard to the residents of Roxbury either.)

But imagine how much worse it must be for those who don't have or stive for that Harvard appearance. Indeed, I know. It was brought home to me when I had two young black male relatives visit with me recently. I took them with me to all the places I regularly frequent, though typically as a lone black person--because of the nature of the demographics of my locale. I was really shocked by how people reacted to them. I realize that these two--one, my nephew even--perfect young citizens and very sheltered kids but from a large urban area--set off the white and black people at most of the places we went. When I finally got to the airport to place them on the plane, I was ready to physically defend them against these slights.

Over the course of just about 15 minutes, I had a black femaile airline counter clerk, send my unaccompanied minors off with the admonition, "behave,boys" What? Why would she presume that they would not? They were perfectly calm, mature-activing teenagers. A baggage handler at another airport station was clearly trying to deal with them at arm's length, providing them with as minimum assistance as he could although, again, they were unaccompanied minors, clearly (from my fretting and repetition of detail instructions) on their first plane trip. When I gently touched my nephew's shoulder to alert him to the faster walkers coming up on the left, the white male passerby said to me, "That's right keep them in line." What? They were not out of line--and weren't in need of correction--thank you very much. (I can't even imagine that being said to a white parent in a similar situation.)

So, I guess at Harvard too, whites--even black folks--see ourselves as foremost animals, worthy of only second rate treatment and in need of control.

Anonymous said...

Raven: Reading your story caused me to burn on the inside. I know I should never be shocked. But dang it, I am. I just can't believe the nerve of some people to judge us. And on top of that, judge us with no evidence to mount their judgement. Ridiculous!

My heart goes out to black boys and black men. The prejudice that's slung their way is much more directed and overt. Again, I just can't believe how others were treating your nephews.


field negro said...

raven, you have managed to officially piss me off on this "over the hump day." This is not going to be a good day for some of the people (black & white) who I come in contact with.

Stories like yours, are so sad, and they still make my blood boil, but like Anon, said, I am not surprised at all.

Hathor, Penn did have an incident like that a few years ago. It's the famous "water buffalo" incident.

For those of you not familiar witht he "water bufalo" incident; it's where a bunch of Penn frat boys called some black female students a bunch of "water bufaloes" for making too much noise outside of his dorm room.

"..My heart goes out to black boys and black men.."

Thanks Angie, this is why I love you :)

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

I swear, it must be the water at Harvard.

Otherwise, why else would you have the likes of Black elected sellouts like Dollar Bill Jefferson or Artur Davis in the Congressional Black Caucus?

Racism is alive and kicking - and Harvard's reputation just took another hit.


Anonymous said...

In alot of ways, I think the South is actually less racist than the Northeast. Part of it is that there are more blacks in the South, part of it is the flak Southerners get for being racist, leading them to think it's "their problem" and that they have to consciously fight it.

There's a flip side: Northern complacency. You know, Lincoln was ours and he freed the slaves, John Brown was ours, we didn't have slaves, etc. But then you go to my home town of Boston and we're really racially segregated.

Alot of the issue is too that in Boston, our black middle class is fleeing to more friendly locales like Atlanta or DC. The folks that stay are lower-income and ghettoized, and when you add this income/class element to the racial element, is serves only to divide people further.

That being said, I love Boston (and Cambridge) and hope we make progress. Abolitionism started here for a reason, and I think Deval Patrick's election was a sign that we want to improve, but what we need to do is put more (smart) money into programs that target susceptible black youth early on with Head Start programs and intensive youth mentoring to overcome their educational disadvantages. As for the racism in peoples' hearts, unfortunately money can't do a thing.


Anonymous said...

Yeah, this kind of stuff happens all the time. I went to Yale and when my girlfriend and I were playing pool with our Indian friend, this white guy walked up to him and asked if our Indian friend picked us up from the street (basically asking were he could pick up hookers like us). Then I had students run from me, close security doors behind themselves thinking that I was going to do something to them. Other black friends who when their roommates families came, would respond how the black friend’s neighborhood in NY was good until the negroes moved in. Bottles thrown at black students, white female staff and faculty calling the police of black males in the library. Old white alumni giving my black friends their food trays. Threats written on the African American cultural center. It is a terrible experience.

And you have a point about the type of people that go there. Of the 8% black that are there roughly 5-6% are 1st to second generation blacks who come from the top “oppressor” class of their countries and have a world view that poor people are poor because they are lazy and stupid and that there is a difference between them and the descendant from slavery American blacks. Then the 2-3% descendant from slavery blacks the majority of them (like myself) are mixed race. I was talking to my homeboy who is a “native” non-mixed black and a few weeks ago we decided to count how many were in our class out of 100 blacks and all we could count is about 15 out of 100.

burpster said...

I live in a smallish Canadian city and haven't had a lot of contact with black people.

On a recent trip to Aruba we had to overnight in Atlanta, the airport was pretty full, no less than 4 black dudes hit on my wife. Now I know this is a tiny sampling and not indicitive of black people in general, but it still sets an impression. On our return we had a 6 hour layover in Houston. In the airport they had these converted golf carts (held 8-10) that were for, I assumed, elderly or handicapped people. Every time one of these carts passed by it was full of younger black guys. The guys were hooting and whistling at girls as they went by. Meanwhile frail elderly people would be struggling with their luggage rather than taking a ride on one of the carts.

Like it or not not it leaves a bad impression.

Woozie said...

Running? Jumping? At Harvard? Bah humbug, what childish negroe tomfoolery.

I told my friends, black and white, to avoid Ivy League like the plague.

bklyn6 said...

"Harvard Law School’s first endowed professorship, the Isaac Royall Chair, was funded from money earned at Royall’s slave plantation in Antigua." Apparently, the white Harvard students were just trying to be good overseers.

david hayes said...

That story is crazy, but sadly believable.

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing I decided not to go to one of these Ivy League schools. They tried to recruit me from high school, but I did not want to go to such schools due to my major and the fact that Ivy Schools came off as cold and sterile from what I've heard about them.

Sadly, the stories I've read on this blog do not surprise me at all. As a student at Pitt, I've heard stories about more police at activities for black students than in other cases. It's ridiculous, but if guys like Bush are any indication, an Ivy League school ain't nothing but a familiar name to put on your resume.

Anonymous said...


I've been in the Atlanta airport and many others in the States but have never seen the kind of black male pile up you report. I've rarely even seen two black men on one of those carts. Indeed, it seems to me that such behavior would quickly come to the attention of the supervisors and would be stopped. These cart drivers always strike me as being on a short leash--except for their speeding and zig zag driving.

I ain't gonna call you no liar but your story makes me wonder about your perception of how hot the ATL guys thought your wife was.

Your perception is also questionable because you apparently can't see the disturbance and discomfort caused by white airport employees and travellers. One is of the kind I reported earlier in this thread. White airport employees, for one, can be particularly unhelpful to black travellers, including not pausing for black would-be cart travellers. I also kinda notice how it is that when these escorts must cart people around in the most burdensom fashion (e.g., by pushing them in wheelchairs over vast distances--such as in Chicago-Ohare, all of the escorts are Black American.) There is also the problem of the groups of drunk white travellers that can make it very uncomfortable for black female travellers (one hounded me for an entire two hour layover, even re-arranging his seat selection to sit near me.) And, of course, let's not get started about what Senator Larry Craig's behavior shows. The bathroom--as well as other airport bathrooms--was known for this activity.

So, Burpster, don't act as if disruptive airport behavior can be localize to black males----probably one of the rarer of groups represented in the airport.

Finally, thanks all for your sympathy and you anonymous for sharing your survey--just 15 out of 100 "full-blood" domestic blacks of probably poor--to--upper middle class backgrounds. Sad.

field negro said...

"I live in a smallish Canadian city and haven't had a lot of contact with black people. "

burpster, sounds like you haven't had much contact with people, period.

The kind of behavior you described could have taken place in any large airport where there are lots of people and employees, black and white.

Not sure, but I am getting some vibes from you like raven on this one. I am not sure about that story. I can't see this statement being true: "EVERY TIME one of these carts passed by it was filled with youger black guys" Unless you were at the airport at 3:00AM, and the workers were bored out of their minds,I kind of doubt the veracity of your story.

As for the felllows in the "A" hitting on yourt wife;take it as a compliment, when guys hit on Mrs. Field, I am actually quite flatterd. It's when they stop hitting on her that you should start worrying ;)

Anne Rettenberg LCSW said...

There's a Mrs. Field? How does she feel about your obsession with Lark Voorhies?

I've never seen a scene like that in an airport.

These stories about the universities are depressing. As for Harvard though, I mean what do you expect from a school that has a "Law" professor who advocates torture?

field negro said...

elizabeth did I say Mrs. Field?

Lark, if you are reading this, I meant to say: IF THERE WAS A Mrs. Field and guys hit on her.... :)

The Christian Progressive Liberal said...

Busted. :-)

burpster said...

My wife is reading the comments to my post with me. She is from Seattle and was equally shocked at the behavior. This is not something I made up, nor is it I suspect a large sampling of black Americans. But the events happened just as described.

While most here would like to just push this to the side, it's real life events.

If it had been white, green or orange people I'd have been equally as shocked. Because I'm white I don't pretend to be better than anyone else, whatever race. Might be the reason I have enjoyed reading this blog. I want to understand others better, but not be called a liar for trying.

Anonymous said...

"Not sure, but I am getting some vibes from you like raven on this one. I am not sure about that story. I can't see this statement being true: "EVERY TIME
one of these carts passed by it was filled with youger black guys" Unless you were at the airport at 3:00AM, and the workers were bored out of their minds,I
kind of doubt the veracity of your story." Field Negro

Yeah, I'm not so sure about this... I travel in and out of the Houston airport. And trust me, the folks that run Bush Intercontinental ain't letting a band of brothas take over the carts while unhealthy and/or old people are struggling to get to and fro in the airport. I'll be flying out of here Saturday. Trust me, I'll be certainly taking note of who's filling the carts. BTW: Actually when I fly in or out of Houston, I actually get some questionable treatment from the non-black workers. It just kills some of them to have to provide special accommodations for a black woman. **sigh**

Burpster: Look, I'll give you the benefit of the doubt that what you said happen indeed happened. But please tell me that you are not using this one experience to blanket all black men. Please tell me that you don't think that this one experience qualifies you to make valid judgements about how black men conduct themselves.

If you are using this one particular experience to confirm your sneaky suspicions about black folks, then it's not this experience that had you sold. You already had negative opinions about us.

And goody for you for trying to learn from us... But FYI, if you want to indeed learn from a people, you don't approach them with prejudices in the palm of your hand. Don't come on the board, slinging your wacked out opinions of us, and then get offended when people question the validity of your claims. If you truly want to learn from us, approach us with an open mind, with an open palm, with an open heart. I don't want to be presumptuous, but when I read your above comments, I sense a person that is closed to truly learning about African people and our experiences in this world community.

Nuvision for a Nuday

Anonymous said...

"when guys hit on Mrs. Field, I am actually quite flatterd." Field

Brotha Field, this sounds more like a slip of the truth rather than a slip of the tongue... LOL I ain't trying to get in yo' business, but...

Do you think that you will lose more than your chances with Lark if you fess up? LOL You must think you gon' lose your female readers over here in the fields.

Well, my brotha, I'm hanging in there wichah no matter what. **grin**

This is so funny... It reminds me of how publicists try to keep a famous person's romantic life out of the public's eye so that they can make sure that the fan base won't break up.

It also reminds me of how stats show how a church loses 40% of their female membership when the single pastor gets married. I guess that proves why most of the sistahs are sitting in the pews, don't it? Many of them actually want a piece of the pastor rather than a piece of God. Lord have mercy...

Now you know that I'm just teasing ya... **wink**

You and the Mrs. have a good one. LOL


field negro said...

LOL at Angie and that church and the pastor reference. You are too funny :)

"You and the Mrs. have a good one. LOL"

See, this is why I don't put my business out there, why it gotta be me and "the Mrs. have a good one"? ---I am just saying,if there WAS a Mrs---

I am hanging "wichha" too, no matter how you dis a brotha :)

BTW, nice comments to "burpster" I co-sign with everything you told him. He might be a nice guy,and I am glad he is trying to understand "us", but he has to come with clean hands, if I may use a legal term. That's the only we can get from point A to point B together.


Mo said...

this isn't surprising, i got to school in boston; they would've called bpd and someone probably would've been arrested/banned from the campus...true story

Your driver said...

Just found this blog. I like it. I want to respond to burpster.

What in the world makes you think that your unpleasant experience with Black folks is, in and of itself, worth reporting on? I mean, what's your point dude?

I have lived in several large American cities with large Black populations. I am white. In the course of my life's adventure I had a Black roommate who was quite a good cook, have been friends with a Black man whose educational attainments far exceeded my own, have been robbed at gun point by a Black person, had a Black co-worker announce that he was going to kick my ass to a roomful of co-workers, (I told him to go fuck himself) have been treated in a cordial and genuinely friendly manner when I was the only white person in a crowded bar, Had a young black man politely ask me if he could hit on my companion, or was she my girl? (I told him she was her own girl, but could he please leave us alone, we were talking) I was initially hired and taught my lifelong occupation by several Black men, I was helped by several Black adults when I, along with several Black children were attacked by white policemen (I was 14 at the time), I was once treated rudely by a Black clerk in a store...Gosh, I could go on...

Some of those experiences made me somewhat sympathetic to Black folks, but none of them were the basis for my forming an opinion on the situation of Black folks in America. I certainly didn't go to any Black run media outlets, not even blogs, and say, "I saw a Black person doing...X. Whadda ya think about that? Huh? Huh? I've got my wife right here. She saw it too."

I'll admit my experiences made me curious about the situation of Black folks. So what I did was take some classes on African American history, read books by Black authors, listened to Black people rather than talking at them. I didn't treat every Black person as an expert on Black people, or a spokesperson for their race. I did seek out the work of Black journalists and tried to absorb their perspective on the news.

Now, at some point in there I did begin to formulate an opinion on the situation of Black folks in America: I think that we live in white supremacist society and that Black people are systematically abused and exploited. I don't think that racism is based on hatred, or wrong thinking. I think that racism is a system of exploitation based on racial and economic privilege.

As to my ongoing personal experiences with Black folks: Not every human interaction is fraught with political or social significance. Sometimes a kind and helpful person is just a kind and helpful person. Sometimes an asshole is just an asshole. Other times referring to a group of young women as "nappy headed ho's" will force you to learn all about Black women, their hair, their history and their realities as real human beings. That will happen even if you are entirely (self) satisfied as to your motives. You've just got to take responsibility, love your neighbor and sort it out to the best of your ability.

I have many distant relatives in Canada. I used to live a few miles from the Canadian border. I have been to Canada many times. Most Canadians seem to be polite and friendly, but there was this one time when....

field negro said...

"I have many distant relatives in Canada. I used to live a few miles from the Canadian border. I have been to Canada many times. Most Canadians seem to be polite and friendly, but there was this one time when...."

Now that's classic!

Anonymous said...

Field, I tell you, those damn black men in the Houston airport were at it again! Why did a couple of the airport staff flirt with me when I got back to Houston tonight? I guess Burpster and his wife were right about those out of control blacks.



Anonymous said...

Field, on a similar theme: the most offensive Harvard personal ad ever.

Myself, I went to Princeton, which was a messed up place for this low-tech low-bred outcast field caucasian. But at least the campus police left me alone.