Monday, March 06, 2017

Ivy League 2017

James Fisher said he couldn't attend classes at the University of Pennsylvania because one his white professors refused to denounce his white privilege. Fisher is black, and he wrote an article about his mental anguish published in his university’s newspaper The Daily Pennsylvanian. “I stopped going to his class for a month. With different emotions going through my head from not only this class but from the Trump election, I did not want to step foot into another white space until I made sure that my mental health was restored,” Fisher wrote.
James Fisher

The paper said Fisher is from the Bronx, NY and in his picture looked fairly normal. He must have learned some toughness living there and he’s only in his sophomore year at UPenn. Is this what can happen to a man after only one year in an Ivy League school these days? He can get completely rattled by a white man who doesn’t think the way Fisher believes he should? Fisher claims his professor is nice, but Fisher claims being in his presence is still traumatizing:

These are the types of things that happen when white teachers do not want to acknowledge their privileges; they can psychologically hurt their students. It is not enough to be aware of your privilege. It is also not enough to be a nice person. Your niceness does not mean that you are not capable of contributing to racial systems of oppression.

It’s sad that Fisher is evidently coming unglued. I’m not a mental health professional, but it seems there are other issues going on with him and he’s blaming a “nice” white guy for his problems. But why did the university newspaper provide space for his embarrassing article? That’s what I’m wondering. Looking into this, I discovered the paper is entirely student-run, but it’s funded by the university, which is private and not part of the state of Pennsylvania as, say, the University of Maine is. Pennsylvania taxpayers are not funding it, except as they pay taxes to the federal government which provides assistance for some of its students to attend there or to attend any other college. In that sense, I’m paying too and so is every other American taxpayer. 
I also learned that 250 students work for the newspaper and elect an all-student board every year which makes editorial decisions like publishing Fisher’s article. I saw no disclaimer such as the typical: “Opinions expressed here are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the views of this newspaper.” Seeing something like that might have provided me some comfort.
Fisher’s article ran under a headline identifying it as part of a continuing series called: “Spilling the Real Tea” which runs every two weeks. Given the university was established in 1740, I wondered if it was some reference to the Boston Tea Party during which revolutionaries spilled British Tea into Boston harbor in protest against the British government. When I googled the expression, all that came up were examples of people using it. Judging from context clues, it seems to mean something like “telling the real truth.”
Is that what the elected board of students at a prestigious university believe James Fisher is doing? Telling the real truth? Must be, since I see he’s published three other articles in the same space. Is this indicative of how absolutely crazy it is on American campuses today? It would seem so. I’ll leave you with another quote from Fisher:

It is not enough that you are sorry for the injustices caused by your people. It is not enough that you read one article on the Black Lives Matter movement because your black friend recommended it to you. It is not enough that you gave your black students extensions on their papers because Trump got elected. The truth is, you as a single person cannot make up for the horrific things that white people have done to us throughout human history. But that does not mean that you do not have the power to stop yourself from oppressing the students that you teach every day.

Remember, it costs $70,000 a year to go to the University of Pennsylvania today. What a deal, huh?

14 comments:

EWH said...

I worked at Penn in the late 60's as an electronics technician. I read the paper at times and found most of the material to be reasonable until they started demonizing the armed forces because of the Viet Nam war. Some writers were pushing for "freedom of expression" meaning unbridled profanity. Another writer quoted Mark Twain, I'm paraphrasing here, that profanity has shock value and that unlimited use diminishes both the shock value and the author. That lesson seems to have been learned though I must admit it is a very long time since I read the paper.

Ben Crocker said...

Your article on Penn is poignant. It's not much better at Maine. I think this unhinged behavior on the left is indicative of their fear that we conservatives will do to them what they have done--or planned to do under HRC-- to us, mainly, through litigation or social shaming, silence opposing viewpoints. They are unable to actually empathize; they need safe spaces from conservatism on campus but don't recognize that open conservatism incurs more personal risk on campus than open homosexuality.

Anonymous said...

This is a story? Why are bothering with this....is somebody a little sensitive when it comes to not acknowledging white privilege?

Funny how this "safe place" narrative is shifting!

When he campaigned for Donald Trump last year, Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke urged audiences to join a rebellion. “It is pitchforks and torches time in America,” he’d say at rallies, glowering from beneath a cowboy hat.

Last week, the pitchforks got a little too close. Clarke described the Women’s March on Washington as “a total collapse of the social order,” a near-riot scene that left him rattled — even though it led to no violence or arrests.

Hypocricy, anyone?

“Several taunted me at women’s riot,” he wrote on Twitter.

Awww, big tough pitchfork weilding sheriff needs a safe place?

The abrupt shift of power from liberal America to conservative America has, overnight, created a new sensitivity on the right and a new toughness on the left.

Brian said...

Oh, sure, this one random guy's story is WAY bigger and more important than related stories, like the big rise of misogynist, xenophobic, and racist incidents on campuses since Trump was elected, summed up by fliers put up at Texas State University depicting men in camouflage, wielding guns and an American flag. saying: “Now that our man Trump is elected it is time to organize tar and feather vigilante squads and go arrest and torture those deviant university leaders spouting off that diversity garbage.”

Nothing to see there, no columns to write about with that, not when some dude is upset about his professor.

bc64a9f8-765e-11e3-8683-000bcdcb2996 said...

Let's see...oh HERE it is!
"Oleanna" by recovering neo-liberal playwright David Mamet.
ALSO SEE: His subsequent "The Secret Knowledge".
I'm always amused when the psychiatry lite "field" of psychology catchphrase "borderline", evolves into "spectrum", when defending "special" exemptions, and protections.
I can only wonder how much polysyllabic "my special exemption" vocabulary is even KNOWN, before the dreaded terrible twos of higher education, AKA Sophist/Sophomore/Sophmoronic.
CaptDMO

J%6hp8tPYpyr6^$&^P said...

OK now...there WE go!
"The Stand" by awesome liberal author Stephen King.
DO NOT PEEK: His previous "Carrie"
I'm usually flabbergasted when the molecular "area" of physics catchphrase "Vogue", evolves into "tuna fish" when interspersed with "lunar" exceptions, and divisions.
I can only speculate how many unibrows "my special friend" even HAS, before the horrific highs of lower mindwash. AKA teabag/truancy/tsunami.
GeneralWTF

Anonymous said...

I swear that half of the things I hear right wingers say lately, I think at first it is satire from The Onion. The latest was Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah explaining that Trumps's health care plan really IS affordable.....so long as you don't also need a phone!!!!!

Brian said...

Tom said:

"Is that what the elected board of students at a prestigious university believe James Fisher is doing? Telling the real truth? Must be..."

A question for Tom - How would you know more than them about what is the real truth is in that situation? How would you know more than the elected board who are much closer to the situation, and know way more details than you?

I don't know what the truth is there but I tend to lean with the source that has the most information on the matter.

Brian said...

That being said, my hunch on this one is that Fisher is a big attention getting crybaby.

But I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

Since nobody seems too interested in this yawner, how about some jokes!

Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan, Obama. And, now, Trump. One of these things is not like the other. And if you’re thinking it’s Obama because he’s black, you probably voted for Trump.

Donald Trump tweeted that millions of people voted illegally on Election Day. Then someone told Trump it’s not illegal for women to vote.

the world watched America swear in, as its 45th president, the concept of white-male mediocrity. Oh yeah, it really happened. Donald Trump laid his little pussy-grabbing paw on top of two more books than he’s ever read in his life and spoke the most solemn vow he’s ever uttered since his third wedding.

Donald Trump is considering splitting his time between the White House and his Manhattan residence, which would cost taxpayers tens of millions of dollars. But it’s all worth it to help a billionaire go night-night in his big-boy bed.

Then Trump was like, “Thank God I’m not a taxpayer!”

The latest polls show President Trump has an approval rating in the low 40s, which means he’s probably about to dump it for one in the low 20s.

He’s so petty and so vindictive. How long before he tweets out the president of China’s home phone number because he got a bad egg roll somewhere? I hope they tell him as little as possible. When Trump shows up to a briefing, I hope they give him headphones and an iPad and make him watch Frozen.

Donald Trump tweeted that he wants to cancel an order with Boeing for a new Air Force One because it cost too much. Which is weird, because Trump usually waits until after the work is done before he refuses to pay.

I do not believe our new President Donald Trump paid Russian prostitutes to pee on him. I believe they did it, I just don’t believe he paid them!

Donald Trump compared the way he’s been treated to Nazi Germany. Which is unfair, because everyone knows Hitler won his election without the help of the Russians.

You know how over the course of his time in office, over four years or eight years, the president gets old and his hair turns gray? During this administration, instead of him, that’s going to happen to all of us.

We all know that Donald Trump is going to destroy the world. But we cannot deny that it’s going to be an amusing destruction.

Anonymous said...

This is also a joke, but sadly, real.

The hypocrisy continues. Trump is now crooning about the unemployment rate, which he used to call a "phony hoax", because they dropped 0.1% for no reasons of his own!!

Brian said...

Here is an example of conservatives trying to curb free speech on campuses. A GOP lawmaker in Arkansa is trying to pass legislature to prevent public schools from assigning any books by Howard Zinn. Yup, good old fashioned book banning! I guess this is intended to create a safe place for students not wanting to hear perspectives on history from other sides. An Indiana governor tried to ban Zinn's book a few years ago, and of course failed.

Tom McLaughlin said...

I'm surprised you'd post that Brian, after what happened at Middlebury College last week.

Brian said...

Oh, because of that we should be quiet and pretend that the curbing of free speech on campuses only goes one direction?

I'm NOT surprised you think that way.