On April 25, 2020, I posted a blog titled, “SHAME ON YOU SPECTRUM.” It was a critique of the shoddy reporting spectrum had done on a racial issue that was being addressed in an article they published. Subsequently Spectrum heard about the blog that was posted on my Facebook page and asked permission to publish it in their online magazine. Since that publication it has received numerous comments that I really do not have time to address.
Many of the comments in no way address the substance of my blog. My blog was directed at Spectrum, its shoddy journalism and the poor job it did in having the story properly investigated based on the information available to it in the student’s tweet. I did not discuss the professional record of the professor or what he has done with regard to race or race relations professionally, academically or otherwise. As a matter of fact I neither mentioned the professor or the student my name. Nor did I mention the professor’s ethnic background or origin in the piece. Some have resorted to making personal references to me as well but that is not something that bothers me. This is a usual tactic when the facts are not on your side. When the facts do not support you, the next strategy is to attack the person. The purpose of this blog is to respond completely and explain my position, based on the facts in the tweet that was published in the original Spectrum article. To support my position I will take direct excerpts from the tweet. I will place the Tweet discussion in “quotes” and italics to distinguish it from my commentary. The Student identifies herself in the tweet as “Meek.”
The student says —“ I look at a final paper which got a 74, and I don’t get C’s on papers so I was confused.”
The note he left for her grade was not on the quality of her paper but on the content. The student’s professor wrote in his own handwriting.
“This paper aims to criticize stereotyping; yet itself is a good example of a stereotyping”
—Instead of the professor pointing to the quality of the student’s paper as the reason for her lower grade, he emphasizes the content.
I will now copy the tweet of the conversation and address why I believe Spectrum did a shoddy job of journalism. Please remember that the primary focus of my attention is the journalistic investigation of Spectrum and its lack of pursuing the bias of the professor and its effect on his ability to properly and fairly grade the student’s paper. The discussion begins with disagreements about the content to which, the student directs the professor to her references in support of her position. Here’s what the tweet says:
“Me: You’re going to have to tell me how I did that
Dr. M: You talk about how white people made stereotypes & that’s not true
Me: I said white people within America made stereotypes of Black Americans, & I gave the proof for that
Dr. M: It wasn’t white people, it was slave owners”
“Me: The slave owners were white…
Dr. M: No the slave owners were slave owners
Me: (emoji’s) But it wasn’t only slave owners who perpetuated that stereotype onto Black people within America. And I gave articles and letters and sources for that”
As you notice the student refers to her sources to support her position.
Someone mentioned that the paper was not about white privilege, but in the conversation the issue of “privilege” is discussed. Again I am quoting the tweet.
“Dr. M: Well you also talk about white people stereotyping black people now, & when you say that that includes me & I don’t stereotype black people.
Me: No, I stated in my paper how those stereotypes are still held in society today to keep put black peoples as 2nd class citizens”
“Me: Because in the racial context white people have a privilege over all Black people. That’s what my paper was pointing out. Systematic racism that holds black people back
Dr. M: You can’t blatantly talk about privilege like that, because Black people have privilege too.”
It is at this point that the conversation turns and the professor’s personal bias is revealed. The conversation takes a specific personal turn that was not apart of the student’s paper. It goes into an area that reveals the professor’s personal ire about several issues that transpired on the campus of Andrews University. Incidents that it appears he personally disagreed with. This is where his personal bias crosses a line and reveals how it may have intruded into his ability to fairly evaluate and grade his student’s paper. Listen carefully and follow the conversation of the tweet.
“Me: black people do not profit in the racial context of America within its system. Any black person who does well is DESPITE the system not because of it
Dr M: That’s not true there are black people who get jobs just because they’re Black”
“Me: You need to give me examples of that, because when….when does that happen.
Dr. M: I can’t give you an example because you know the person”
“I knew exactly who he was talking about at this point, as he was talking about @mtn_atw and he said that because he knows N–(name excluded) and I are friends. Not only that, but for those who don’t know N–(name excluded) is our VP of diversity and inclusion that we got after #ItIsTime”
“Me: you need to give me examples or you’re doing the same thing you’re accusing me of doing which is claiming things without fact.
He moved on and kept saying that I wasn’t listening. And that I am part of the problem of prescribing things I go to cause of my race and not myself”
“But he came back to it and said
Dr M: A few years ago when P——(name excluded) (@bpolite4life) did that thing where he said the school has systematic racism, it doesn’t because I’ve never seen it.
Me: ….Well you wouldn’t see that because it isn’t aimed towards you nor are you looking for it”
“Dr M: No it’s elitism. But fine, the school, as in the higher ups said that we do and what happens. They say we need a Black person to fill a role and the school spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to fulfill this role that does nothing.”
“Me: We’re both adults. So we’re not going to sit here and act like you’re not talking about M—— N—– (name excluded) and his role as VP of diversity and inclusion.
Dr. M: Well he got hired cause he’s black and that’s what the school wanted”
“Me: You can’t say that because that dismisses the credentials that he literally has. He has his JD, he was a practicing lawyer. He’s doing a great job. And for someone who keeps saying they’re not racist, that’s literally a racist remark you’re making.”
“We go back and forth and he keeps belittling my line of thinking and my experience saying that not everything happens because I’m black and if it does it’s cause I keep telling people that’s what I am when I need to focus on there only being one race, the human race”
Everything in the section above and afterward has nothing to do with the student’s paper, but further reveals the professor’s personal views on race and incidents that transpired on Andrew’s campus. In the discussion he reveals his own personal disagreement with charges of “systemic racism” at Andrews University and mentions what he sees as evidence of the racially biased hiring of an African American, which he calls “elitism.” All of these topics are issues that he and the student clearly have differences of opinions about. However, none of these topics have anything to do with the content of his student’s paper. But it does open a window into how he may have arrived at the grade he gave his student. This is why I said SPECTRUM did a shoddy job of reporting. They totally and completely ignored the direction the professor allowed this conversation to go and all of the things he said to his student. Listen to rest of the conversation she records in the tweet.
“So I got super emotional and we argued for 30min & I was like “listen, we’re not seeing eye to eye here so I haven’t finished grading papers I need to step back & I’ll come back & grade these later”
And as I was leaving he said “oh you couldn’t handle it huh, you can’t handle it”
“So he told me that my problem is that I don’t listen and that I will never be able to fight racism while being so racialized and that I will always be contributing to the problem unless I try to fight this with Christ as the center.”
“Me: saying that races do not exist does not solve the problem at all because it diminishes all those who have gone through issues because of their race and I am not only unable to not be perceived as Black but I’m proud of being black”
“Dr M: you’re proud of that? You have pride in that?
Me: yes I am proud of being black
Dr: Well you need to fix that
Me: why can’t I be proud in being black
Dr: why would you be proud of that?”
“Me: black people have gone through so much and yet we still…
Dr: well so do Serbs (he’s Serbian btw)
Me: we’re not talking about Serbs rn!”
“He keeps yelling at me, I still have some tears running down my face cause I’m so angry. Somehow we got back to @mtn_atw
and he said “what has he done what has he changed”
“Me: as a black woman im very happy and feel better that he’s here.
Dr: what if you’re not black
Me: I know Latinx and LGBTQ people who are happy he’s here
Dr: what about white men?
Me: HES NOT HERE FOR YALL CAUSE YOURE NOT OPPRESSED”
“This went on from 2:25-3:33. I was so emotional that I said “we’re not seeing eye to eye, I’m just going to go cause you don’t get it.”
Dr: Your problem is that you don’t listen, you’ll only contribute to the problem when you keep going on like this, learn to calm down & relax”
“Me: Don’t ever tell me to relax or calm down. Not when you keep invalidating an experience you’ll never understand.”
There are one or two excerpts that I left out but you get the picture. It should be noted that when the professor was asked if this tweet was a fair representation of the conversation between him and the student, his initial response was yes. I understand that later he disputed some portions of the conversation, but even after those claims he still agreed with the tenor of the conversation. It was based on my reading of this diatribe that I came to my conclusion about the shoddy, inadequate journalistic job that Spectrum did in covering this story.
I will mention again that at no time do I mention any names; neither the student nor the professor. Any illusions or inferences to such come from the student’s tweets. That is not for me to do. Others in response to my blog have chosen to do so. They have chosen to discuss the professor’s nationality and country of origin, issues that I have chosen to steer clear of. My use of the word “anglo” in my original blog was used in the generic sense. I could have used “caucasian,” but others have used the word “anglo” in publications and writings to refer to the “white” community in a generic or general sense. If that somehow was misinterpreted by someone that is unfortunate, but in my view a weak attempt to shift the focus from the real issue. Please don’t try to skirt the real issue.
Some have brought up the professor’s record on racial issues and his long history in the area of race relations to defend him in this instance. While all of that may be true, that has nothing to do with my article. My blog was about the job Spectrum did in allowing their article to be published without the proper investigation into the case. Based on the information available in the facts of the story Spectrum should have demanded that more research be done into the background of the professor. Was this bias that was revealed in his conversation with this student, ever experienced by other students he has taught? They did not pursue this issue at all. Was Spectrum advised not to publish the story as it was presented and if so, why did it ignore this advice and still publish the story?
Why is it that so many people were quick to defend the integrity of the professor without looking at tweet, which my blog was based on? Why is it that they did not view the issue from the perspective of the student, an African American female, or see the unequal relationship between an employer and his employee. Not one person who has objected to my piece mentioned the unequal relationship between the professor and the student and how unprofessional, aggressive and abusive his actions were toward her. She says in the tweet that when she is about to leave and I quote, “he said “oh you couldn’t handle it huh, you can’t handle it”.” Is that kind of aggressive language appropriate from a professor toward a student, really? Why is it that so few people who read the article and my response are not more troubled by this? Could it be that white racial privilege is so powerful that it takes precedence over every other sensibility? If this were an African American Professor engaged in a conversation like this with a White Female Student would those defending the professor be as charitable and understanding? Only those who voiced their rebuttals can answer that question.