At a Brooklyn rally for the Jena 6 on September 20, many speakers spoke of “Jena, New York,” referencing the fact that egregious and often violent acts of racism and injustice occur every day right here in NYC, pointing out that this sort of racism is not just an anachronistic, small-town Southern ill.
That phrase and concept was immediately called to mind this morning when I got the news that a prominent Black professor at Columbia University’s Teachers College found a noose hanging on her office door yesterday. From the Columbia Spectator:
On Tuesday, an African American professor at Teachers College, the nation’s top-ranked education school, came to her office to find a noose hanging on the door. Today students clad in black will rally in protest of this hate crime at 2 p.m. in front of Arthur Zankel hall before a town hall meeting at TC.
The hate crime comes after a series of politically and racially charged events that have occurred over the past two weeks including Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s controversial appearance, the discovery of racist and Isloamophobic graffiti, and the announcement of an appearance by conservative author David Horowitz, CC ’59, for Islamo-fascism awareness week.
With the nooses found on the University of Maryland’s campus in early September, it seems like we have a new racist trend on our hands. But while the fallout from Jena’s nooses has been much more severe, violent, and endangering of the victims of racism, it is important to note that these two other prominent incidents have occurred on college campuses – one an Ivy League institution in a “liberal” urban center. I think some people might be tempted to write off Jena’s racism as something endemic to “backwater” Southern whites, but that view is inflected with classism and regionalism, trivializes the state of racism in this country, and is proven patently false by incidents like these.