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Comments by YACCS
Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Black and female at Duke

Sean Paul video shoot
This is not reality.


Black female students at Duke say they feel constantly under attack

By Fiona Morgan

As the television news crews were winding down their interviews, four African-American students approached the house holding candles. They looked angry and weary. Asked if they were surprised by what's been going on, they all laughed. "Why is that always the question?" said Stan Williams, a second-year graduate student in the Divinity School. "I'm outraged," said Audrey Christopher, a recent graduate of Duke, "but I'm not terribly surprised."

Christopher: This is something that I have cried over. It's happened quite frequently; actually, too frequently. Way too frequently. And it's really upsetting when it's a classmate. It's not some random guy on the quad, it's not some random guy at a club. It's someone you work and go to school with and who you respected up until they propositioned you, or they grabbed you in front of everyone at the party.

Another white woman: What do other people at the party do when that happens?

Christopher: Well, my friend once went to a party and this guy just came up and started rubbing on her butt.

Christian Peele: He did not know her?

Christopher: No. And she said, "You must have lost your mind." And her group left. No one pays any attention when stuff like that happens.

S. Williams: They assume that that's what you do at a party.

Christopher: As a black female, you go to a party, you're expected to dance, you're expected to be sexually provocative. You [are expected to] want to be touched, to be grabbed, to be fondled.

D. Williams: As if they're re-enacting a rap video or something. As if we're there to be their video ho, basically. We can't just be regular students here. We can't just go to a party and enjoy ourselves.

Christopher: And just dance with your friends.

D. Williams: No, it can't be just that. It always has to be something more. And you wonder why there aren't a lot of black people at white parties, why we self-segregate.

Christopher: You go to a party, you get grabbed, you get propositioned, and then you start to question yourself. Did I give him some reason to think that I wanted to hook up with him in the bathroom? Stuff like that. And there is no reason. There's no reason unless I said, "I want to hook up with you in the bathroom." There's no reason to make that assumption. But it happens all the time.

A lot of black girls come together and share this. "This has happened to you, too?"

D. Williams: You realize you're not special. It happens to all of us here.

Christopher: I had a friend come over for a study date and her friend just outright propositioned her, and he didn't understand why she was offended and asked him to leave. Another guy was outright, like, I've never been with a black girl. And when she got offended, he offered her money. People don't take that seriously. People don't care.

Jamie Bell, a Duke freshman: I care. I'm from Durham. I didn't grow up in a sheltered, white community. My public high school was 50 percent black, 50 percent white. And I've noticed the segregation between black and white people on Duke campus. But honestly, I didn't know that's why it happened. And that's something I would want to know. If you don't think that anyone would listen, that's really sad.

Christopher: Was it Paul Musselwhite [a student columnist for The Chronicle, Duke's campus newspaper], the guy who said we create academic ghettos? And when people got offended, all you heard was, "Black students just complain all the time, all you do is complain and self-segregate." And whenever we try to explain why we're offended, it's pushed back on us. Just the phrase "self-segregation": the blame is always put on us. It doesn't even include the fact that perhaps the reason we're not involved in these activities is because it's not welcoming, it's not inclusive for us.

A white woman, weeping: I'm so sorry....

D. Williams: It's as if it's our fault. As if white people can't come to any of our events. They're not closed to any particular race. You see there's more diversity in our groups.

Christopher: And from somebody who doesn't self-segregate, for somebody who is in lots of different groups, I understand. I've known people to say, "Oh calm down, racism is funny." That quote exactly! And I was like, you only think it's funny because you don't have to deal with it. This was at a game night, we were playing Taboo or something. And I realized why Duke is as divided as it is. Who wants to sit there and have to listen to stuff like that and be the only one in the room who speaks up and realizes that that's inappropriate to say? And to be around people who will defend William Bennett's comments. "Oh, it was out of context." Who wants to deal with that all the time?

D. Williams: Some days we just need to not have to deal with it. Some days we need to not have to go through the verbal assault, not to hear stupid shit from our colleagues. We just need to be people some days.

Christopher: You've already got to go to class and be the only black person, so whenever a black issue comes up, everyone looks at you to represent the entire black population of the United States.

[All four students erupt in laughter.]

D. Williams: Why do we all have this experience? Do you guys understand the degree of this? That any time racism or slavery comes up--

Christopher: "So what do black people think about this?"

D. Williams: And you know that maybe you've done it before, too. Don't play innocent here. We've all had to be in classes where everyone looks to us to be the speaker of the black race.

Christopher: And they don't want you to just give your opinion. You're supposed to represent an entire race of people.

Peele: The entire diaspora.

Christopher: So I don't understand how they can say that we self-segregate when we go to this institution. You go to your predominantly white class, you live in your predominantly white dorm, and if you have any activities besides BSA [Black Student Alliance] and UP, United in Praise, the gospel choir, then it's an integrated activity and you are the minority. So how are we self-segregating when we choose to have dinner with people who aren't going to say racism is funny? Or if we choose to party with someone who's not going to proposition us and offer us money because we're black girls? That's not self-segregation, that's just taking care of yourself.

Audrey Christopher will attend Harvard Law School in the fall.
Wow. Offered her money?

Damn, that's fucked up. But it reflects a culture where you have white guys who have never really dealt with black people. Offering a woman money for sex is an insult.

Which is why the whole lacrosse thing blew up. If you offer the women you go to class with cash for sex, what happens when a stripper, who isn't prostitute, says no?

The rap world of gangsta and video hoes, as promoted by BET is a fantasy, one you sell to suburban white boys. But when you go to college, did you think the video hoes are suddenly Duke students? Or that black people act that way in private?

Uh, earth to horny white boy, the reailty is that if you share a class and dorm with someone, they are a lot like you. Is your sister a video ho? No? Then why do you think your dormmate is secretly waiting to fuck you because you grabbed her ass.

posted by Steve @ 12:02:00 PM

12:02:00 PM

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