University News

Students of color condemn Herald, racist columns

Statement from AAPI collective also pushes University to adopt ‘Indigenous Peoples’ Day’

University News Editor
Friday, October 9, 2015

Black student leaders and a collective of Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander students released statements Wednesday and Thursday, respectively, about The Herald’s publication of two racist opinions columns earlier this week. In the statements, the two groups expressed their solidarity with Native and Indigenous students.

Fourteen black student organizations, along with 76 individual signatories, wrote the “Joint Statement to The Brown Daily Herald,” in which leaders of these organizations expressed “concern for and disgust of the decisions made by” The Herald.

“As black students, we are deeply offended and personally harmed by ‘The white privilege of cows’ which advocated for eugenics,” the students wrote in the statement. “We particularly want to underscore the impact that the most recent article, ‘Columbian Exchange Day,’ has had on the Native and Indigenous community at Brown.”

The black student organizations listed three demands of The Herald, including that it “admit the role it has played in consistently giving a platform to racist ideologies; publicly apologize in print and online for (its) egregious mistake and the resulting harm on members of our community; and give the Brown community a concrete and transparent plan of action.”

This plan of action would emphasize an increase in staff diversity, more stringent fact-checking for columns and a commitment to leave published columns online under all circumstances, according to the statement. Focus groups composed of students of color would review the plan of action before submitting it to the general student body for approval.

The Herald published an apology in print and online Wednesday in an editors’ note.

“Earlier this week, The Herald published two opinions columns that were not only controversial but also deeply hurtful. Errors in the editing process aside, we understand that these columns contained racist content that has no place in our paper or community,” the editorial board wrote in the note. “The organization’s editorial board will reexamine the editorial processes that allowed these mistakes and previous ones to happen.”

In the final paragraphs of the statement from the coalition of black student organizations, the authors hold The Herald accountable for the harm caused on campus. “We rebuke the BDH, its editorial board and M. Dzhali Maier (’17) for propagating and proliferating racist opinions and erasure, delegitimizing the emotions and trauma of oppressed people and for issuing a subpar statement,” the students wrote in the statement.

A collective of 21 Asian, Asian American and Pacific Islander student organizations, along with 82 individual signatories, wrote a “statement out of deep concern for the recent decisions of … The Herald to publish egregiously offensive and racist content.” The statement is broken up into five sections, with the second specifically addressing the two Herald columns.

“Among the many offensive claims made by the columns was a direct invalidation of Native and Indigenous students’ planned action to hold a demonstration on October 12th demanding that the University rename Fall Weekend to Indigenous People’s Day,” the students wrote in the statement. Like the black student leaders’ statement, the AAPI collective denounces The Herald for attributing the publication of the second column to an “internal error.”

“A publication of such prominence and prestige is obligated to maintain a certain quality that includes, at minimum, factual accuracy and a meticulous editorial process,” the statement continues, adding, “The Herald is obligated to amplify the voices of marginalized students.”

In the statement, the students also warn of “AAPI complicity” in privileges gained at the expense of other people of color.

“White supremacy broadcasts the economic success of a narrow subset of Asian Americans in the United States to justify the oppression of Native and Black communities,” the students wrote in the statement.

The statement concludes with a call for AAPI students to participate in two events being held by Native Americans at Brown: a die-in Friday to “raise awareness of the indigenous genocide that Columbus Day celebrates” and an Oct. 12 protest of the University’s continued use of the name “Fall Weekend” instead of “Indigenous People’s Day.”

  • “is obligated to amplify the voices of marginalized students”

    Ah, there it is. That’s what it’s really about.

  • William Webb

    God save me from “people of color”

    • AlsoRacist

      Don’t worry, God is white too.

      • Leeada47

        Thank Goodness for that. If God were black,and if she would then be a reflection of all things black, she would have an IQ of 85, and have a much higher tendency to commit violent crime…. Holy cow! Maybe God is black considering God’s disposition to criminal behavior

        • Del Aware

          No, if God were black “she” would NOT “have an IQ of 85.”

          American blacks have a MEAN IQ of 85. If you meet any American black at random on the street, there is a 50% chance that their IQ would be 85 or less, and an 84.1% chance that their IQ would be 100 or less.

          There would be only a 15.9% chance that that individual would have an IQ at or above the mean for whites.

          For a population to be so left-shifted in its IQ distribution is a severe handicap–a form of retardation. In fact prior to the early 1970s, retardation was seen as beginning at 85. But then it was recognized that that threshold would render nearly 85% of blacks as retarded. So the threshold was pushed down a full standard deviation, to 70, then uncoupled from IQ altogether because the results were politically incorrect.

          • Leeada47

            “and if she were a reflection of all things black”, was my allusion to describe the mean, median and mode of the normalized curve of the African American IQ frequency distribution…
            Actually all uses of the standard normal curve are misleading when applied to things like IQ groups, as the standard deviation is different for men and women, black and white and brown and yellow, etc etc, but not enough to throw off our use of standard normal to an extent, that we should be called as misleading.. Using simpson’s rule to integrate, with 100 divisions between x0, and xf, that I wrote using BASIC about 200 years ago on a tandy pc 6 (just so you know I was not cheating anywhere) my calc is 84.1344746% have an IQ of 100 or lower…

  • ShadrachSmith

    Those who say things that offend you should be shunned by civilized society and excommunicated from the protections of law and custom and have their right to speak in public revoked?

    If that’s what they said, Nope 🙂

  • Remy

    This (ongoing) incident has become ridiculous. I’ve read comments condemning the author of these articles (white privilege of cows, Colombian exchange) as a white supremacist and rallying for her expulsion from Brown. This is PRECISELY what freedom of speech aims to prohibit. You can express your views, regardless of content, without fear of penalty from the law and without fear of harm. While I acknowledge that Brown is a private institution well within its right to maintain a zero-tolerance policy for certain ideals, the BDH is technically unaffiliated. As a (supposedly) respectable news source, it is absurd that the BDH would remove an OPINIONS article merely because it received significant backlash. This is arguably one of the major goals of opinions newsprint – to spark discourse and intelligent debate. By removing these articles, the BDH has succeeded in both compromising its own integrity and depriving students and others alike from formulating their own opinions about the content of these articles.

    I want to add, for those who have not read either article, that neither was blatantly racist. This is by no means an effort to endorse their content – they were at best, poorly-articulated, and at worst, mildly insensitive – but neither strives to express racist ideologies. To label either article as racist or pushing eugenics is entirely sensationalized (I wish you could all read them for yourselves and see, but alas, the BDH has made that impossible). A proper response to their posting would have been a reaction article, perhaps from POC and members of the Native American community, who could likely express with grace precisely why these articles were poorly framed and potentially offensive. Instead, the Brown community has decided to blatantly condemn both articles as racist and hurtful, imparting its own opinion upon readers. Because naturally Brown students are so intelligent and open-minded that they’re incapable of reading an article and making an informed decision about its content! I’ve never been so disgusted in my life. A student body should not have the right to arbitrarily decide whose voice is heard and whose isn’t. This is continual problem I have witnessed in my time at Brown – Ray Kelly was protested with such ferocity, and yet Noam Chomsky, whose literature and speeches have been regarded by some as antisemitic, spoke freely at Brown with no backlash. It is completely arbitrary and incredibly problematic. While students wildly condemn this writer’s articles as “violent” and “silencing to indigenous peoples”, they are LITERALLY silencing a student and valid member of the Brown community! She is the only one being silenced! How ironic. Other students are more than welcome to write thoughtful reactions to her OPINION piece, and yet they chose instead to censor her articles entirely. To call this article legitimately “violent” is both inaccurate and offensive. Stop conflating safety with comfort. You are all students at an extraordinarily privileged, private institution, and you are all (likely) quite safe. Such a reaction to intellectual discomfort is absurd and quite frankly, childish. If you can’t handle it appropriately, you shouldn’t be in college.

    • Greek Alum

      “rallying for her expulsion from Brown. This is PRECISELY what freedom of speech aims to prohibit. You can express your views, regardless of content, without fear of penalty from the law and without fear of harm.”

      How is expulsion penalty from the law and freedom of speech does not mean you are protected from the consequence of your speech by private individuals.

      I agree that the response is overblown, but no constitutional liberties are being violated by either party.

      • Current student

        This girl should not face expulsion from brown for sharing controversial opinions through a news source unaffiliated with Brown. She is not representing Brown, she’s representing herself. More importantly, as long as a student doesn’t share an explicit desire to harm others, her opinion should not merit expulsion from any college, particularly one so keen on celebrating open discourse. I’m not saying she deserves a medal, but if people think she’s an awful person, they can decide so for themselves.

        And this is unrelated but…the same people who call for her expulsion are likely those who rallied for the expulsion of a rapist last year. You really think they’re comparable? People at this school are absurd.

        • Greek Alum

          I do not. But you can be expelled for plagiarism and cheating, both of which would be protected under free speech but are not an explicit desire to harm others. Also, while I disagree with them, people are claiming that her speech is harmful, and harm without intent in other contexts is often punished too.

          Again, I do not think she should be expelled, but it would not be a violation of the 1st amendment if she were.

          • Current student

            There is a distinction between intrinsically harmful speech and controversial speech. Speech that causes direct harm (like screaming “fire” in a crowded room) is not protected by free speech because it so often results in immediate, physical harm to people. Words that offend people in various ways – hurting their feelings, bringing up difficult subjects, etc. – could be regarded as indirectly harmful, but are protected in part because a) the harms are not so inherent or direct, and b) not all people take such offense. Whether the author of these articles intended offense is, as you state correctly, irrelevant. Intention does not always match with impact. But whether they offend some or hurt peoples’ feelings is equally irrelevant since the hurt is not of the type excluded from the protection of free speech.
            I worry about the arbitrariness of limiting speech that “hurts” people, since it is based largely upon personal experience and opinion. This is not to illegitimize anyone’s hurt feelings, but rather to point out that what offends one does not necessarily offend another. It is important to have these discussions so that we can even begin to spark conversation about our differing cultural experiences.
            Also, I’m not sure I would group plagiarism and cheating with offensive language. Plagiarism and cheating are not banned for their content, but because people choose to coopt another person’s work as their own (you are free to quote or reference someone directly without saying “look, I wrote this!”).

  • Leeada47

    Maybe a goodly proportion of African American students are at Brown on
    their own merits, though from what we know of affirmative action that is
    unlikely. Given that Brown students aren’t very smart, we can posit an average
    IQ of 115 for students at Brown. 16% of whites have an IQ of 115 or higher,
    while only 2.2% of African Americans have an IQ this high. Average IQ of Asian
    students is 106~107 so Asian students have about 31% of their number at IQ 115
    or higher. If anyone is paying the price of “white” privilege it’s Asian
    students, who have to get higher marks than anyone else to get into good colleges.
    Blacks also pay a price for entering Colleges which are way above their ability
    to cope with, academically. Read Michelle Obama’s Master’s thesis if you want
    to feel embarrassment for her and all blacks who get affirmative
    action marks, school entries, and fake jobs for “diversity” reasons.

    This also spoils things for the 2% of blacks who really are smart, and
    who are assumed by all around them, that they got where they are purely on skin

    Given the remarkable stupidity or Howard University students, I will never go to a black doctor, while I value my life.

  • Leeada47

    Most of Brown’s black and Hispanic students should be at community colleges at best, given that affirmative action has inflated their scores way past their ability to cope with academic study and abstract thought. Race is totally real, and anyone who has ever seen a tribal Aborigine (average IQ 62), knows that it is sadly and terrifyingly real. African Americans should be repatriated to Liberia, where their talents will place them in the upper strata of that society. That was Abe Lincoln’s plan, which sadly for blacks and whites in this country never came to fruition. Sadly for blacks because they are unable to compete in a technological society, and sadly for whites who have to pay extortion to support Blacks, and have to suffer the horrific rates of black criminal violence.
    Mexican illegals should be deported, as their value is as $5 per hour vegetable pickers, which is not worth the damage to the social fabric of this country they do, as well as taking jobs that blacks might actually usefully do.