NewBlackMan (in Exile): Jim Crow University?: The State of Racial Tolerance on America’s Campuses

Jim Crow University?: The State of Racial Tolerance on America’s Campuses

by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

Racial slurs; racist graffiti; taunts and jeers; nooses hanging from doors; and blackface. No, I am not talking about the South circa 1960, but the climate of America’s colleges and universities. If you look around the country, it would seem that some want to take our colleges back to the Jim Crow era when schools and curriculum were white only.

In the last two months of the mockery of post-race America has been quite evident. The “N word” was scrawled on a dorm room and a bathroom at Fordham University. That same month, students at University of Wisconsin-Madison hurled bottles and racial slurs at two African American students who had the audacity to walk past THEIR fraternity house on THEIR campus. At Cornell University, black students walking through campus faced a barrage of racial epithets, flying bottles and catcalls of “Trayvon.” At the Ohio State University, since April, racist and anti-religious epithets have been found on a dorm room door and within the community, including the defacement of a mural of President Barack Obama. These incidents followed the appearance of “Long Live Zimmerman” on a campus building.

For white students the college experience is defined by parties, football games, and new experiences; for students of color it is one often defined by hostility, racist violence, and the same old experiences. Last year, “All N-word’s must die” was found at Williams College. At University of Alabama, a white student screamed a racial slur at a white student, with slurs popping up on campus sidewalks. At Murray State, a faculty member chastised a black student for arriving 15 minutes late to a film screening, noting, “slaves never show up on time.” And the list of incidences goes on and on. This is the sort of racism and violence that has become all too common at America’s liberal institutions of higher education, those places often praised as the breeding ground for the post-racial millennial generation.

Latinos, Asian Americans, and Native Americans also face an increasingly racially hostile environment evidence in cowboy and Indian parties, anti-immigrant chants at basketball games, and countless other examples. While certainly more visible as a result of the power of social media, racism is obviously nothing new to America’s colleges and universities. Whether looking at the history of integration or the practice of “ghetto parties,” institutions of higher education have a long history of racial injustice.

Students of color and faculty of color experience this history each and every day. According to Howard J. Ehrlich, director of The Prejudice Institute, between 850,000 and one million students (roughly 25 percent of students of color and five percent of white students) experience racially and ethnically-based violence (name calling, verbal aggression, harassing phone calls and “other forms of psychological intimidation”) each year. And this only reflects what is reported and what is seen. As Leslie Picca and Joe Feagin have discovered with Two-Faced Racism: Whites in the Backstage and Frontstage, white students use the n-word and tell racist jokes with frequency, a reality that impacts the culture and environment of America’s colleges and universities.

The Jim Crow signs remain visible even as conservatives whine about liberal universities and the discrimination of conservative students. I haven’t seen any Bigots and Liberal parties, or groups of conservative student subjected to catcalls and slurs. There hasn’t been an assault on white history and literature, which remain central to the college experience.

It is also increasingly difficult for ethnic studies, evidence in the attacks on Mexican American Studies in Arizona or the recent blog post in the Chronicle of Higher Education. Excoriated as a “cause not a course of student,” and denounced as “promoting resentment toward a race or class of people” the white only signs are being constructed in classrooms and in college communities throughout the country. These unwelcome signs demonstrate a lack of commitment to and value in diversity, but also how the presence of students of color and the practices of African American and other ethnic programs challenges the very privileges of whiteness.

“What I’ve learned most explicitly about the often racist depictions of Back Studies at primarily White institutions, is that it is a by-product of the on-going project of the discipline to make explicit connections to the work that we do and the communities of folks that exist beyond the four walls of the classroom,” notes Mark Anthony Neal. “Even as some Black Studies faculty are no invested in such a project–and such a project looks very different now than it did during the 1960s, Black Studies continues to reject that idea that it exists in a vacuum.” The continued attacks on the fields of ethnic studies and students of color makes this all too clear.

via NewBlackMan (in Exile): Jim Crow University?: The State of Racial Tolerance on America’s Campuses.

DEAR WHITE FOLKS: You Need Black Studies Classes (and Here’s Why) – News & Views – EBONY

You Need Black Studies Classes (and Here’s Why)

by David J. Leonard

Recent months have seen a wave of campus racism at America’s colleges and universities, including Fordham University, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Cornell University, Northwestern University, and the Ohio State University. While racism is as commonplace at America’s “liberal” training grounds as binge drinking, I found myself wondering about occupying America’s universities. I found myself wondering how Black studies and ethnic studies have the potential to change America’s racial path. How Black studies and understanding the ongoing history of racism is essential to a quest for a “more perfect union.”

Imagine if every student took at least one Black studies course per year during college alongside of Chicano Studies, Asian American Studies and Native American Studies. What if students, what if white students, starting in kindergarten and through graduate school, American’s future leaders, teachers, and voters learned a 4th R – racism – alongside ‘reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic? Surely institutional racism would remain an obstacle, but Whites who inhabit those institutions, from the classroom to the Capital, would likely be changed.

Learning about minstrelsy and the history of racist imagery would surely impact the decision from White students to don blackface for the sake of fun, parties and Halloween. Learning about the history of slavery and lynchings would hopefully encourage thought from entire communities the next time a noose appeared on campus, the next time someone scrawled lynch on a chalkboard or dorm room door. There would be no more excuses and claims of ignorance about these histories.

Can we imagine a world where White students didn’t commonly use the “N-word” behind closed doors because they understood the history of racial violence? Would the hurling of racist jokes and epithets lessened as all students began to think about the consequences and daily harm? Would the exposure to alternative perspectives, to unseen history, and to conversations with students of color, change those students? I would hope so.

Through knowledge, critical thinking and dialogue, colleges can transform themselves–and their students. According to Howard J. Ehrlich, director of The Prejudice Institute, between 850,000 and one million students (roughly 25 percent of students of color and five percent of White students) experience racially and ethnically-based violence (name calling, verbal aggression, harassing phone calls and “other forms of psychological intimidation”) each year. What if each of the students who hurled the slurs at Cornell or graffitied “Long live Zimmerman” at the Ohio State University taken a Black studies course surely there worldview would have been different. Surely, those White students who sat idly by, who watched and said nothing, would have challenge their peers had they any real knowledge of race and racism.

Knowledge about Black culture, history, and identity would come not from Basketball Wives or The Help but in James Baldwin and Tayari Jones, Daughters of the Dust and Killer of Sheep.

Yet, the need for a world of Black Studies as multi-year required isn’t simply to teach White students about prejudice, but the erased experiences and voices of Black people. Knowledge about Black culture, history, and identity would come not from Basketball Wives or The Help but in James Baldwin and Tayari Jones, Daughters of the Dust and Killer of Sheep. We would no longer hear about Martin Luther King’s dream of colorblindness, but instead his dream of justice, reparations, and equality of outcome. The civil rights movement would be a history told not through King and one great speech, but people like Bayard Rustin and Ella Baker, heroes and sheroes who refused to accept American Apartheid. This is my dream, a dream where White students learn alongside of students of color about the history of racism, about privilege, and inequality; about the contributions and humanity of communities of color; about histories of resistance from “Aint I a woman?” to “Let freedom ring.”

While a freshman at the University of Oregon, I took my first African American history class. This class and so many others changed my life. Beyond learning about African American history, beyond reading the likes of DuBois, Frederick Douglas and Carter G. Woodson, beyond hearing for the first time names like Turner, Garvey, Delany, and Hamer, I learned to think for myself, asking why wasn’t I learning this history and what does it mean that the history, literature, and culture I learned during my formative years was a story of whites.

continue reading @ DEAR WHITE FOLKS: You Need Black Studies Classes (and Here’s Why) – News & Views – EBONY.

NewBlackMan: Education in Era of the McTeacher

Education in Era of the McTeacher

by Theresa Runstedtler and David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

“It’s a Biblical principle. If you double a teacher’s pay scale, you’ll attract people who aren’t called to teach.” – Alabama state Senator Shadrack McGill (R)

Speaking at a prayer breakfast last month, state Senator Shadrack McGill (R) argued that increasing school teachers’ salaries would not only destroy the quality of public education in Alabama but it would be tantamount to blasphemy. (Of course, this position did not prevent him from advocating for a 67-percent pay increase for Alabama legislators.)

To go in and raise someone’s child for eight hours a day, or many people’s children for eight hours a day, requires a calling. It better be a calling in your life. I know I wouldn’t want to do it, OK? And these teachers that are called to teach, regardless of the pay scale, they would teach. It’s just in them to do. It’s the ability that God give ‘em. And there are also some teachers, it wouldn’t matter how much you would pay them, they would still perform to the same capacity. If you don’t keep that in balance, you’re going to attract people who are not called, who don’t need to be teaching our children. So, everything has a balance.

Even though McGill’s theological grounding of the issue of teacher pay is laughable at best, his assertion exposes an underlying tension in current debates over education reform. Ironically, those who demonize teachers frequently deploy this tired mantra of selfless public service to rationalize low teacher salaries, even as they expect the same teachers to operate in an increasingly corporatized, “results-based” environment – without corporate-sized wages.

In other words, they want to have their cake and eat it too, and all on the backs of those who spend their days working in the classroom, often with paltry resources, little support, and the constant threat of punitive measures and public derision. And this pressure to push the rubric of privatization into public education is not just coming from the Right. The “progressive” movement for education reform has also jumped on the corporate bandwagon.

Indeed, the logic of consumerism now dominates the “enterprise” of American education from kindergarten to college. We have entered a phase defined by a client relationship, with teachers becoming akin to academic concierges or service representatives, rather than intellectual leaders and mentors. Schoolteachers and professors must provide information, guidance, and whatever else their student-customers’ desire. More and more we are told that we are in the business of content delivery and job training, rather than social analysis and critique. In “Putting the Customer First in College,” Louis Soares, the Director of the Postsecondary Education program at the Center for American Progress, even argues for the establishment of an “Office of Consumer Protection in Higher Education”:

Students make customer choices based on available information, interests, abilities and life circumstances that will mostly determine whether they succeed in obtaining an education with a meaningful credential. The problem is our higher education marketplace today does not account for this customer focus that is so important to success. In large measure, this is because education policies that guide this marketplace are largely crafted by the dominant voices in higher education—colleges and universities with the resources to sway elected officials. Students as customers have no voice in this policy conversation. (emphasis added)

Writing about the phenomenon of helicopter parents, Afshan Jafar links the rise of hovering moms and dads to the heightened consumerism in U.S. education. “This trend is clearly the manifestation of a consumerist mentality: I’m paying for this, so even though I am a sophomore, I should be able to take the course that is open to juniors and seniors,” writes the assistant professor of Sociology at Connecticut College. “Or: I’m paying for this, so this better be good (and “good” really means a good grade here). This consumerist mentality explains the sense of entitlement that we perceive in some of our students and their parents.” While often attributed to the increasing costs of higher education and the recent string of consumer-fraud class actions brought by students, this “retail” ethic runs much deeper. It reflects a substantive paradigm shift in the language, practice, and structure of American education.

With this emphasis on benchmarks, quantifiable results, and customer reviews, it is no surprise that attacks on teachers, whether at the university or public school level, have escalated in the past few years. Whether measured by standardized tests or student evaluations, teachers are now expected to produce immediately recognizable “results,” even as the funds dedicated to the classroom (as opposed to testing companies and college administrations) continue to shrink.

continue reading @ NewBlackMan: Education in Era of the McTeacher.

On Trayvon Martin: The U.S. School System’s Criminalization of Black Youth | Urban Cusp

On Trayvon Martin: The U.S. School System’s Criminalization of Black Youth

By David J. Leonard

UC Columnist

Eye on Culture

The efforts to defend George Zimmerman by disparaging and demonizing Trayvon Martin have become commonplace. The three-headed monster of the Sanford Police Department, Zimmerman’s attorney (and surrogates) and Fox News continue to push a narrative that seeks to justify Zimmerman’s actions. At the center of their distortions, distractions and lies has been an effort to paint Trayvon Martin as a “criminal,” as a “thug” and as a “menace” – as America’s nightmare: “young, black and don’t give a f*ck.”

Citing manufactured pictures and suspensions, like Geraldo’s reference to hoodies, the “blame the black kid” defense is intent on justifying his murder by substantiating Zimmerman’s fear and suspicion. Michelle Goldberg asked, “Why Conservatives Are Smearing Trayvon Martin’s Reputation,” concluding that “Conservatives are focusing on Trayvon’s tweets, appearance, school suspension over marijuana traces, and the hoodie he was wearing to blame him for his own death – and to show that his killing had nothing to do with racism.” These efforts have led to a shift in the media coverage and hyper emphasis on Martin’s demeanor, background, and behavior. According to Goldberg, “The media was flooded with the news, if one could call it that, that Martin was once suspended from school for possession of a plastic baggie with marijuana residue on it.”

For example, a story in the Orlando Sentinel took the lead in the character assassination, giving voice to defend Zimmerman by assassinating the character of Martin with its emphasis on most-recent school suspension: “[H]e had been suspended from school in Miami after being found with an empty marijuana baggie. Miami schools have a zero-tolerance policy for drug possession.” Likewise, a Miami Herald piece on Trayvon Martin provided a context to understand the shooting:

As thousands of people gathered here to demand an arrest in the Trayvon Martin case, a more complicated portrait began to emerge of a teenager whose problems at school ranged from getting spotted defacing lockers to getting caught with a marijuana baggie and women’s jewelry. The Miami Gardens teen who has become a national symbol of racial injustice was suspended three times, and had a spotty school record that his family’s attorneys say is irrelevant to the facts that led up to his being gunned down on Feb. 26.

The focus on his suspension is particularly revealing not only in Trayvon’s case, but also in the larger fabric of American racism. For the defenders of Zimmerman and much of the media, the reports of multiple suspensions, of a connection to an “empty marijuana bag,” are evidence that at best Trayvon was “complicated” and at worst he was a “thug” who therefore deserved to be killed.

While telling us nothing about Trayvon Martin and his murder, his suspensions do reveal the ways that profiling and his criminalization began long before Zimmerman. While white students are more likely to be in possession of drugs and possess guns while at schools, black and Latino youth are far more likely to face punishment. According to the Department of Education, black students are 3.5 times more likely to face either suspension or expulsion that their white peers. In Chicago, although whites account for 10 percent of students, they are only 3 percent of suspensions. Compare this to African Americans, who represent 42 percent of Chicago students, but 76 percent of suspensions. In Los Angeles, while only 9 percent of students, black students account for over 25% of suspensions.

“Disciplinary policies are racially profiling African American students,” notes Marqueece Harris-Dawson, an activist in Los Angeles. “It is not that African American students are lazy, unmotivated or not smart. These students are being pushed out of schools.” This is the same assumption that led George Zimmerman to follow and ultimately shoot Trayvon Martin; the same ideologies that imagined Martin as threatening, suspicious, and dangerous requiring discipline and punishment contributed to his suspension from school just as it played a role in his untimely death. In other words, his multiple suspensions are proof in that ways that race matters in material ways, which unfortunately became all too clear on February 26.

continue reading at On Trayvon Martin: The U.S. School System’s Criminalization of Black Youth | Urban Cusp.

The White Coach’s Burden | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture

The White Coach’s Burden

By Guest Contributor Dr. David J. Leonard

During my “glory days” playing high school football–among other positions I played linebacker–there was a game where, after several tackles (pretty amazing tackles if I remember them correctly), I found myself rolling on the ground in pain. Their running back decided to thrust his helmet into my gut leaving me gasping for air. I would later find out that the opposing coach encouraged his players to “take me out”: a helmet to the gut would do that for at least one play.

The fact that a nobody player in a nothing high-school football game between two tiny private schools in Los Angeles was “taken out” illustrates how encouraged violence is part and parcel to football culture, even if there were no “‘knockouts’…worth $1,500 and ‘cart-offs’ $1,000, with payments doubled or tripled for the playoffs,” rewards uncovered as part of the New Orleans Saints’ “bounty program” last week.

Yet, the NFL, much of the media, and others have acted as if the Saints’ actions are an aberration that can be easily corrected. As such, the league’s response was predictably clichéd:

The [anti-] bounty rule promotes two key elements of NFL football: player safety and competitive integrity. It is our responsibility to protect player safety and the integrity of our game, and this type of conduct will not be tolerated. We have made significant progress in changing the culture with respect to player safety and we are not going to relent. We have more work to do and we will do it.

The NFL wasn’t alone with its shock and outrage (and hypocrisy). The Los Angeles Times’ Bill Plaschke referred to the bounty system as “sanctioned evil” that in one game constituted a “blatant mugging by the New Orleans Saints.” Eamon Quinn described bounties as antithetical to the values of sports: “Such malicious intent—regardless of whether the particular hit was legal by the letter of the law—totally undermines the camaraderie and goodwill inherent in participation in sports. It is diametrically opposed to the inherently benevolent nature of sporting competition.” Similarly, ESPN’s Gregg Easterbrook identified the bounty issue as “Sinnersgate” which “is about being paid to cause injury, which takes a beautiful sport and makes it a low, filthy thing.”

Dave Zirin rightfully highlights the hypocrisy in the league’s resisting calls for reform while marketing itself on the “Orwellian staple” of comparing NFL players to warriors:

There is no morality in war — but that doesn’t stop our political and military leaders from insisting otherwise. Invariably, the enemy consists of immoral, medieval cave dwellers who respect neither human life nor the sacred rules of combat. Our side, on the other hand, engages in “surgical strikes” to limit “collateral damage” in a noble effort to liberate the shackled from tyranny. They tell us to ignore the innocent killed in drone attacks, the piling body counts, and just remember that our enemies are savages because they don’t play by civilized rules.

The moral indignity of the media is striking given its own promotion of on-the-field violence. The proliferation of a highlight culture dominated by jarring hits is as much a bounty as any direct or indirect payment system.


An ESPN culture that leads with bone-crushing, de-cleating tackles, turning relatively obscure defensive players into household names, illustrates the role of the media in offering incentive for viciousness on the field. The hypocrisy and faux-outrage from the media as well as fans, given the widespread acceptance of a culture of violence, seems more about disappointment the behavior of any coaches involved; bounty gate isn’t a challenge to perception of football and the NFL, but the league’s patriarchs – the coaches.

Continue reading @ The White Coach’s Burden | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture.

Trouble A-Bruin: On UCLA And Who Schools Choose To Redeem | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture

Trouble A-Bruin: On UCLA And Who Schools Choose To Redeem

By Guest Contributor Dr. David J. Leonard


Much of the buzz surrounding Sports Illustrated’s report about the troubles surrounding UCLA men’s basketball program has focused on the players, sporting headlines like “UCLA players undermined discipline, morale,” and “UCLA Basketball Out Of Control.” But the story itself really hones in on coach Ben Howland’s failure to “control” and “discipline” those players.

But if this same story had been about teams like UNLV, Miami or Michigan’s “Fab Five,” the narrative would been less one of shock and disappointment but rather the fulfillment of expectation, which are wrapped in racial and class assumptions that UCLA, celebrated as an example of the nostalgic ideal of collegiate sports entertainment, has benefited from for years.

More specifically, much of the article focuses on Howland and his inability to corral and control Reeves Nelson, who has denied many of the allegations.

The piece gives ample attention to the disruptive influence of Nelson, who is white: injuring three players on separate occasions, getting into a fight with another player away from practice, and otherwise engaging in questionable behavior. I could not help but think how much the story revealed about the state of education, privilege, and inequality within society.

Whereas other players are lamented for drug use and partying in ways that detracted from the team success (victories), Nelson comes across as being at a different level. Noting how Howland “looked the other way” because of his play, SI describes Nelson as a pariah, as a cancer to the program:

Nelson was hardly the player around whom to build a team. He was a classic bully, targeting teammates who weren’t as athletically gifted as he and tormenting the support staff. At the end of practice, he would punt balls high up into the stands at Pauley Pavilion, turn to the student managers and say, “Fetch.” Nelson frequently talked back to the assistant coaches. When they told him to stop, he would remark, “That’s how Coach Howland talks to you.” […]

Nelson showed Howland only slightly more respect. By his own admission, he often ignored the head coach’s phone calls, and Howland resorted to calling one of Nelson’s roommates, asking him to coax Nelson onto the line.

There certainly wasn’t a system of zero tolerance for any of the players, but most certainly Nelson had a level of impunity. It made me think about the ways race infects the process of discipline and punishment as well as how education increasingly operates through a commodity model as opposed to one of education.

This is not say that what is happening at UCLA is all about race or that it is evidence of the failed priorities of today’s educational system but rather that what we see at UCLA isn’t simply a soap opera or a instance to wax nostalgically about the John Wooden era but rather a window, glimpse and teachable moment regarding issues bigger than UCLA.

Beginning in the 1980s and extending to the 1990s, students of color attending American public schools faced increased levels of surveillance, policing, and state-sanctioned violence. For example, in 1994, President Bill Clinton signed the Gun-Free Schools Act, a law requiring a one-year suspension for any student who brought a gun to school. This had both direct and indirect consequences throughout the United States. In Chicago, for example: during the 1994-95 school year, only 23 students were throughout the entire district. By 1996-1997, this number reached 571, surpassing 1,000 by two years later.

Although white youth are more likely to bring a gun to school, sell drugs, and use drugs, the efforts to rid schools of these behaviors have focused on youth of color.

The consequences of a Jim Crowed disciplinary process have been evident since day 1. Consider just these three findings:

  • According to a 2007 study by the National Economic and Social Rights Initiative, black students accounted for 17.1 percent of U.S. student populations in 1998, but represented 32.1 percent of students suspended as a result of rule violations. The study also names this statistic from a national survey of high school students: the number of students who reported the presence of security guards and/or police officers in their schools rose from 54 percent in 1999 to 70 percent in 2003.
  • In a separate study of 15 major American cities, the Applied Research Center found black students “report higher than expected” suspension and expulsion rates in all fifteen. In Chicago, while African American students accounted for just over half the district students, they represented almost 2/3s of the students suspended and close to 3/4s of those expelled.

Continue reading @Trouble A-Bruin: On UCLA And Who Schools Choose To Redeem | Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture.

NewBlackMan: Like Father, Like Son?: An Open Letter to Coach Pat Knight

Like Father, Like Son?: An Open Letter to Coach Pat Knight

by David J. Leonard | NewBlackMan

Dear Coach Pat Knight (Lamar University):

I am writing to you about your post-game comments the other night. As others may not have seen your press conference, I quote it for their sake. Entering the press conference, you first tell a student-athlete: “I am next, because you don’t have a clue what it takes to win.” Your tone of disrespect didn’t end there:

We’ve got the worst group of seniors right now that I’ve ever been associated with. Their mentality is awful. Their attitude is awful. It has been their M.O. for the last three years.

We’ve had problems with them off the court, on the court, classroom, drugs, being late for stuff. All that stuff correlates together if you’re going to win games. You just can’t do all that B.S. and expect to be a good team and win games. These guys got to learn; they have to grow up. They don’t need to be coddled; they don’t need to be babysat. That is the problem with society . . . because people don’t make kids accountable. These kids are stealing money by being on scholarship with their approach . . . . If you act like this in the real world, you are going to be homeless, with a job… And if people have a problem with me being harsh about it, I don’t care. I came here to clean something up.

While others have called your post-game comments an “epic rant,” as “tough love” or as an example your honesty, I don’t share their opinion. It was abusive, disrespectful and an affront to the educational mission of every institution of higher learning. You have defended these comments by noting the support of your fellow coaches, who are “all dealing with the same thing.” You have cited parents as so appreciative of your comments that they would want their kids to play on your team. While I don’t write as a parent (although the thought of my kids learning anything from you is one I cannot bear), I do write you as a teacher and a member the higher education community.

I am not sure if you think of yourself as a teacher or an educator. I don’t know if you subscribe to the belief that coaches, like professors, are advancing the mission of higher education through instilling values, fostering skill development, and otherwise preparing the next generation to succeed in all walks of life. Sally Jenkins, a sports columnist with the Washington Post, highlights the presumed pedagogical power (or mission) of collegiate coaches:

The best college coaches teach sport as a set of problems and how to tease out the solutions. They don’t just teach content and skill, but how to transfer it into real-world performance through study, organization and communication under pressure. They ask, what happens if you follow a strategy to its logical conclusion? What are the consequences of making things up as you go along? Why do things break down? What are effective fallback principles when skill or strategy breaks down? What are the traits of successful organizations across professional boundaries?

I would gather that you do see yourself as an educator, as a teacher molding the future generation. Whether true or not, I have to tell you your approach is both troubling and offensive and has NOTHING to do with teaching or educating. Teaching is not about publicly humiliating; teaching is not about ridiculing, demeaning, and disrespecting. You may think your approach reflects a commitment to disciplinarity and accountability but there have to be other ways to instill a commitment to excellence on and off the court. Anyone can stand before an audience, microphone in hand, without fear of any reprisal, to criticize. Teachers find other ways of inspiring, informing, or helping beyond intimidation and fear. Teachers don’t violate the trust of their students by announcing their grades in front of millions of people. Teachers don’t disrespect their students; calling out behavior is one thing, but condemning their character is another. Your decision to treat student-athletes as children, to publicly condemn and ridicule them, shows that you have a lot to learn as a teacher because anyone has the capacity to do what you did that night.

Beyond the tone, do you think it is proper to share students’ private academic records?  You obviously do because you followed your press conference with additional statements about academic performance:  “I’ve never seen more F’s on report cards than I ever have since I got here. Missing classes, being late for workouts, missing workouts. … What I don’t think they understand is all that correlates together. If you’re not going to be a winner off the court, you’re not going to be a winner on the court.” What good can come from embarrassing these students? At the same time, do you think it is proper to reference drug arrests, even though when I searched online all I could find is one arrest for a minor marijuana possession charge?
I would be remised if I didn’t bring up the racial optics of a white male coach publicly chastising, ridiculing and demonizing 5 African American players (based on search of roster, it appears that all 5 seniors are black)?  Did you think about how publicly castigating 5 black players as academically deficient, drug using, and otherwise lacking the requisite values and attitude to be successful as basketball players or people fits in a larger racial context?  Did you think about the societal stereotypes and how your claims are not only disrespectful to the players but reinforce widely circulated stereotypes about student-athletes and particularly black student-athletes?
Your arrogant comments makes me wonder if you and Newt Gingrich are writing a book together acting as if success and opportunity come as the result of a recipe of values, work ethic, and the right cultural ethos.  Was he busy lecturing members of the NAACP so you decided to use your platform to reduce success and failure to attitude and values?  Do you really think that excoriating 5 (black) players will help them develop a work ethic to avoid being homeless as if homelessness or unemployment is the result of not having the requisite values?  You seem to imply that people succeed or fail because of their actions, which is far from the truth (just ask Mitt Romney).  I wonder how your white manhood fits into your own career and how your own connections allowed you to make it irrespective of your own actions.  You claim to fear for the futures of those players who lack the needed maturation, but maybe they have a Dad who can help them out.

Continue reading @ NewBlackMan: Like Father, Like Son?: An Open Letter to Coach Pat Knight.