Scenario: Recent Black graduates of Harvard University RSVP’ed for a party to be held at a new club in Boston during homecoming week. As they started to line up outside the club, the bouncers became convinced that they saw local “gangbangers” in the mix. The owner was called. The organizers of the party, themselves recent Black graduates of Harvard (and current students of other schools of the university), explained that this was an invitation-only party and admittance was to be strict according to the list. So, people continued to be admitted …that is until 11:15pm when the club decided that there were TOO many Black people outside that could attract the wrong crowd who would then cause trouble and therefore the party was shut down and everybody sent packing.
Source: A very verbose letter the organizers wrote. Scroll down.
Hmmm! To say that I am surprised is a lie. I’m not surprised so none of that “I can’t believe it…what in 2010?” and all line of reasoning. Let’s just cut to the chase. First, how on earth did the organizers come to the conclusion that the club owner was not being racist? In what world is it acceptable to say “Look I know you are Harvard students and alumni but you are Black and you guys standing outside my club is going to attract the local riff-raff (obviously Black) and I can’t handle the potential trouble they WILL cause when I deny them admission, so why don’t you guys just forget this whole party that you were very much looking forward to and go home”. To which the organizers apparently replied, “Oh yeah, I got you, my bad, friends, let’s go” because this is such a totally reasonable request.
That my friends is prejudice in action. It is pure racist trash that is not even funny. In case I forgot to mention, this happened at CURE LOUNGE.
When I was in medical school, a white male classmate who was into me, told me that there wasn’t much racism nowadays, at least not like Civil Rights era. I couldn’t convince his Republican self otherwise. Needless to say, the two of us did not amount to anything much, not that I didn’t cry about it as if it would have. Then five years later, America elected a Black man to PROVE that racism is dead and that this penultimate moment is the last nail in that coffin. I think the smart ones amongst you do not need me to list the several ways that America collectively and Americans individually have “shown their ass”. In short, anyone who thinks racism is dead in the United States is living under a rock or suffering from White Privilege.
You know what the problem is? White people like the owner of this club (yes, I am assuming he or she is white or at the very least thinks s/he’s white) who
think know that this is their world and those who identify as non-racist have graciously allowed us Blacks and other coloureds to live in it.
It reminds me of a time early in my second year of residency when I went to check on a patient during NightFloat on a floor I hardly go to. I decided to forego my white coat and was just wearing scrubs with my badge hanging at the hip. I went to see the patient, then returned to the front to access the patient’s chart on the computer. A middle aged white nurse comes up to me and asks “Can I help you?” I reply “No”. I continue checking labs but she continues to linger. I pay her no mind. Several seconds later she says “Employees are not allowed to use these computers”. I don’t know if she couldn’t see that I was in a patient’s chart and not surfing the world wide web but it seemed to me that she had mistaken me for an employee – the kitchen staff, the janitorial staff, ie. the help ie. people who wouldn’t have access to patient’s medical records. I looked at her like “for real” but couldn’t choose between the several choice retorts forming in my head. She subsequently asks to see my badge and I look her up and down taking full notice of the fact that she isn’t even wearing one. Of course I ignore her, finish what I’m doing and leave while the other nurses are muttering “I think she’s an intern…”.
Today, I would like to respond. Woman, get the hell out of my face. I did not walk into your life. I do not need your permission to see a patient or check on his record. What nerve?! You without your badge demanding mine. I am THE resident, it is MY hospital, and you are the nurse in it. Please!
But that brings me to my second comment on that letter/incident. The fact that the organizers list their credentials as Michael Beal (Harvard ’06, HBS ’12), Kwame Owusu-Kesse (Harvard ’06, HBS ’12, HKS ’12) and Brandon Terry (Harvard ’05, Oxford ’07, Yale PhD ’12). Oh my dear Harvard. Now that’s comical. Granted, this was a letter to peers, but what is all that supposed to mean? That because they have a string of fancy letters and prestigious schools after their names, that they are somehow above all the crap meted out by society to black people?
You know what? Malcolm X once asked “What do you call a Black man with a Ph.D?” Google it for the answer and don’t forget it. Besides, we only have those letters and those schools as credentials because we were given permission ie. affirmative action, not because of any false notion that we are actually intelligent people who earned them by our own merit.