In yet another gesture of shameful appeasement to racist demands by black students for yet more racial self-segregation in the Age of Post-Oppression, New York University recently opened negotiations with students to create black resident floors on campus next year. A “themed engagement floor” for black students is being advanced by a group called “Black Violets NYU.” The group has complained that the overwhelming presence of white students has made it difficult for black students “to connect.” Black Violets has also called for more black professors in its politics department, and for the creation of a black student lounge on campus.
In June of this year, students at Rice University had demanded that the University fund a “non-residential Black House” on campus. They also wanted a statue of the university’s founder removed. Other demands included that new students’ requests for black roommates be met during orientation weeks. This demand is clearly at odds with federal civil rights laws. Other demands included that course descriptions have tags indicating what race and ethnic groups are involved, since several course titles did not make it clear if diverse perspectives were offered in their course materials.
We must jog our memories and remember that in June, 2017 Harvard University held separate commencement ceremonies for black graduate students. One hundred and twenty students attended the third LatinX commencement ceremony replete with Latin music. Emory University and Henry College held diversity and inclusion year-end ceremonies. The University of Delaware joined a growing list with “Lavender” graduations.
There is no doubt that by the time this article is published there will be a multiplicity of schools meeting mostly new black students’ demands for special black student lounges, all-black dorms, black seating spaces in cafeterias, and more spaces such as we witnessed at Evergreen University — where white people are absent for days so black students can have a time on campus to feel special as black people. What next? All black libraries with only black authors, black gyms, black professors teaching only black students to avoid the racial trauma of being taught by a white instructor? If you think this is hyperbolic, observe that one of the demands made by the black students at Rice University is that the school hire more black counselors and therapists, and that they be trained in how to handle racial trauma.
I believe some thoughtful analysis is required here, especially as I have been a professor in the academy now for almost 24 years. I have taught at two Ivy League Universities, and have taught poor kids from the cornfields of Indiana, and poverty-stricken black kids from East St. Louis.
To begin, let’s be clear that no student at any elite university in this country, whether he or she be black, queer or international, is marginalized. Also, can anyone imagine what life will be like for a black student with a degree from an elite university like NYU? One simple word: fabulous. They’ll probably never have to apply for a job; they’ll be recruited midway through their senior year, long before any white student has even completed his or her final exam. Such students are catered to, pampered with high-end scholarships, treated like royalty with their every need anticipated, and every perceived slight they might feel anticipated and solved long before it might have arisen in their consciousness. Progressive American universities are the least racist to these radical left-wing students. Their peers and the various administrative bodies who run the universities are likely to prostrate themselves like obsequious Babbitts before them; and not just in meeting their tyrannical demands for exceptional treatment, but in feeling inordinate guilt that such students report feeling uneasy about their place in the universities.
So, what is this demand for racial segregation all about? To begin with, it is a disgraceful exercise in racist reactionary politics and an egregious display of misanthropic behavior. At the heart of it is not just the practice of the Big Lie—if ever there was one—that they are victims, but a preternatural conmanship at work. These students are racial hucksters exploiting white guilt, and milking a certain group of whites of their low-self esteem. There are white university administrators who need to engage in some twisted masochistic play with the sadistic whippings of privileged, entitled, black narcissistic students who, having been granted an enormous deal of institutional power, know, not feel, that the world does really revolve around them and will capitulate to their demands. If the world refuses, they as anointed victims, who by default have the permanent imprimatur of innocence, are certified moral icons who exist beyond the reaches of criticism.
They have been encouraged by the institution to not just feel welcomed on campus, but to treat the university as an extension of their living rooms and the homes from which they come from. There were no white people in those rooms and homes and so, why should they now have to live in the real world and engage and live among white people?
Their tribal separatist logic and the attendant trauma they report feeling is a charade. These students act like tribalists and biological collectivists; that is, as if their whole mode of being in the world, their values and principles and terms of engagement, are governed by some internal form of chemical pre-destination. But they are not.
What they face is a post-oppressive age, one that treats them as full-fledged human beings—and they can’t stand it. A deep existential crisis, and a chronic sense of anxiety afflict them in such a world because…well, it is drama-free. It’s just ordinary. And though they are feted and treated like royalty on these elite campuses, what they truly want is a situation in which they can command power and,inversely, create a racist institution.
Yes, on today’s elite college campuses discrimination exists towards conservative thinkers and their ideas. God help you if you’re a patriotic American who is pro-capitalism and pro-individual rights, a First Amendment and Second Amendment absolutist, a critic of the welfare state, a lover of Israel, and a critic of Islamic Jihadists. But that hardly describes the Marxist-inspired Black Lives Matter-motivated black separatists, racial self-segregationist reactionaries.
Today these students, their administrative appeasers, and their professors who have schooled them in their schemata are the purveyors of institutional racism—not its victims.
They have consciously weaponized their blackness and white guilt as a means of silencing criticism. They wish to harken back to some atavistic period when the black body is viewed as some amorphous, homogenized shaping of a majestic Nubian culture that, today, in our institutions of higher learning, will revolutionize thought: from decolonizing syllabi and ridding them of all European white thinkers, to declaring grammar, logic, and now even math as racist; to abolish history departments because history itself is a fabrication of mythologies and not a codification of objective facts. The very faculty that distinguishes us from every other creature and makes Man a human being—reason—is being called into question as a social construct meant to erase the identities of marginalized people.
This weaponized black body foists itself upon the world as a moral axiom from which all subsequent “truth claims” that emanate from any black body may be regarded as self-evidently true.
This is the real racialized identity politics behind the students’ demands. The black body as an argument. Unfortunately, there is nothing special about the black body. There is nothing special about any physical, racialized body, per se. Black skin does not convey the validity of an argument or a truth claim. It cannot justify a “themed engagement floor” because skin color does not represent a moral theme or any “theme” for that matter. Neither does white skin or yellow skin. Your body is not special until it conjoins itself to a mind and adapts nature to its needs and desires and rational aspirations, its self-actualization and manifested agency. Any human body that merely weaponizes itself in a crudely racialized manner and fails to achieve a rational self-cultivated moral character that can communicate clearly in rational terms, with inscrutable and inexorable logic, is merely an ecological social ballast: ignoble, exploitable, and a heap of unintelligible junk on this earth.
These students may have a safe haven while spineless university bureaucrats yield to their unintelligible shouts, snarls, moans and groans. When they matriculate into the real world with real, rational, practical and reality-oriented people who wield real power, and who will not capitulate to their demands, then reality, which ultimately cannot be cheated or faked, will set in. And after having been given so many opportunities and the keys to heaven on earth in our great republic, they will eventually be tossed on to the dustbin of history, screaming in abysmal terror at a universe that will care not one jot about them anymore.
Jason D. Hill is professor of philosophy at DePaul University in Chicago, and a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center. His areas of specialization include ethics, social and political philosophy, American foreign policy and American politics. He is the author of several books, including “We Have Overcome: An Immigrant’s Letter to the American People” (Bombardier Books/Post Hill Press). Follow him on Twitter @JasonDhill6.