Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Academia Prejudiced Again

So it begins. I promised that I would begin to challenge my graduate classmates perceptions of politics and national news. Today in one of my classes we spent the second week talking about racism in society. We have read about and studied various aspects of racism to better understand minority students' educational development. While discussing a case study from the University of Virginia and recent race-related issues on campus, one of our discussion questions was concerning why we thought that white students on campus had such indifferent views about racial tensions. One of my classmates responded in this way:

"Well, the University of Virginia is in a conservative area of a conservative state with lots of conservative students."

I responded, "What do you mean by that?"

"Well, Virginia is a red state..."

"So... what does that mean?"

"Well, people drive around in trucks with Confederate flags in them and stuff. I mean, not that Confederate flags necessarily have anything to do with conservatives..."

I gave up at this point. However, it was immensely sad that in my graduate program during a conversation about racism one of my fellow students was still absolutely blinded by false political stereotypes. It was actually quite pathetic.

Now, this is not the first time I've been in a situation when conservatives are labeled as racists. My wife's employer (the same university that I attend) has at least two colleagues that believe and have told her that conservative staff members are by definition racist and homophobic. Sick is hardly a harsh enough description.

I have no doubt that my reaction to this stereotype will come up in class soon. Until next time...

No comments: