UNC Racist?

Racism, next to smoking a cigarette, seems to be the only deadly sin around here. The road is one way, of course. I don’t mean to be stating the obvious, but it seems that society has placed a “whites only” sign over the boogie monster that is racism. Furthermore, the accusation of racism is one thrown about without much regard to reality in our culture. Many times I have witnessed the black community make silly accusations of racism and national black leaders get involved in in situations that in no way resembeled racism.  Earth to every person that has made an offhand, below the breath giggle that something was racist: a joke about a specific race is not necessarily racist and neither is a comment or generalization about a specific race is necessarily racist in itself. Racism is the belief that one race is inherently superior to all others. Naturally, stupid jokes and generalizations can mark a racist, but the thread of inherent superiority must be present if the allegation is to stand.

I don’t like racism. I don’t like it one bit.  I especially hate it when it is institutionalized. Has UNC not institutionalized racism by allowing the Sonja Haynes Stone Center for Black Culture and History to exist? Of course, a center for the study of black culture and history is not necessarily endowed with a racist mission. Nevertheless, a look into what the Stone Center is and what it is about will, I believe, bring to light its racist ideals.

Sonja Haynes Stone was a professor here at UNC. According to her biography on the Stone Center’s website, she was committed to the “black movement.” What in tarnation is the black movement?  It goes undefined as if everyone who is anyone would know.  Sonja Stone was advisor to the Black Student Movement student organization that is committed to “black ideals.” She was also the founder of the Southeastern Black Press Institute. The Black Press Institute prides itself on being “all black.” Its stories are feverishly written to update readers about the latest news regarding subjects viewed important to blacks and especially focusing on famous black Americans. One news story begins with the paranoid claim that “Affluent ethnic Americans have been invisible to luxury marketers until now.” Another article regarding the Nation of Islam organization strangely glorifies the racist loud-mouth Louis Farrakhan. In other words, Black Press is a racist institute.  They believe their race to be superior to others, obviously focusing in on the occupation of news dissemination. In conclusion, it seems to me that by the standards of racism often applied to whites by black leaders and to my friend’s offhand (many times stupid) remarks, Sonja Stone was a racist.

And what about the events put on in the Stone Center? One a few weeks ago was meant to create a discussion among high school students regarding hip-hop and whether it is helping the local community. Let’s take a look at some of the lyrics of the hip-hop artists present to engage the students:

 

“Naw, Crackers we aint here for basketball practice, we’re here to be proactive….bastard”

“I gotta mean to slap shit out of your jeans cause angry black man syndrome, don’t ever intervine you’ll be wise standin for a minite or two stopping and gawking should have — now it’s too late for talking”

“Why do black women straighten their hair,it’s not natural manufacturers gather capital while my black women actually loose aptitude afros is more compatible more reliable reasonable it’s feasible the thing that Jesus would do he had hair of wool too just like me and you cause I’m concerned with this European Spurn hold Jesus with a perm no sir so we need to unlearn see the bible say that Jesus he was nappy and bronze so it’s up to you and me as teachers, we must pass the baton”

I’d say those are pretty racist lyrics as would anyone with a brain stem attached. If you’re unsure simply replace “black” with “white” (or any other color) and you’ll find yourself squirming in displeasure. My point is that the guests invited to speak at the Stone Center seem to have an obsession with their race that borders racism.

I am personally sick of the race issue and I have little to no patience for it. UNC is pandering to the unspoken threats of the black community when it puts up with the racist connections of the Stone Center. The black community has pulled the race card when it comes to the city council’s decision on where to place a waste storage site and I would expect nothing less if UNC stood up to the Stone Center’s bull. I mean, for goodness sakes, the Stone Center celebrated the Black Panthers last year during a celebration of their Radicals in Black and Brown exhibit (by radicals I guess they mean murderers). UNC should not allow the Stone Center to hide behind Martin Luther King, Jr. (*) any longer and should rebuke their nonsense.

* –  Blog editor note:  MLK Jr. was a true and real civil rights advocate who mightily contributed to racial equity in America.  The author of this post sees the message of the Black Panthers as incompatible with the loving message of Dr. King.

16 thoughts on “UNC Racist?

  1. Dear Justin,

    It is very unfortunate that you have such a gross misunderstanding of Dr. Sonja Stone and the work she did while a professor at UNC. Apparently you never even met her. Since she is not here to defend herself, I will do it for her.

    I am her son and I sit on the Sonja Haynes Stone Center Advisory Board. First of all let me say that she was not a racist. She never advocated any policy or legislation that had the potential of subjugating any specific group, ethnicity, or race of people.

    She aided all students on the campus of UNC and worked closely with all of her peers. It would do you well to interview those that knew her and see for yourself if they say she was a racist. I don’t think you will do that because you are not in search of truth. Your goal (as this article demonstrates) is to hurl insults at a woman you never knew and an institution on the campus of UNC. My question to you is: if the late Dr. Sonja Stone was racist and the Stone Center is a racist institution, then does that mean that UNC is also racist?

    If there were lyrics that you felt offensive in the rap that you heard (or someone told you about), then it is your right to express your dissatisfaction with it. Perhaps your article should be about rap and how it is offensive to some people. This would be a good step because then there could be a fruitful discussion about the content of rap/hip hop and what influences rappers’ lyrics. Could there be a reason for the lyrics being used, i.e. does it reflect a certain philosophy? If so what gave rise to that philosophy? What are the historical and social issues that would be responsible for these lyrics? I would be interested in that too, because I’ve also heard prejudiced statements in music and I see prejudice quite often on TV.

    We could all benefit from this type of discussion. But for you to get up here, and obviously for your own selfish motives, degrade a woman, my mother, is shameful. What if someone printed lies about your mother? How would it make you feel?

    Perhaps you and I can meet and talk and then we could discuss your grievances since I am Dr. Stone’s son and a member of the board. Perhaps I am the best person for you to air your concerns to. That way we could put an end to lies and insults.

  2. I think it is completely ridiculous to say that Sonja Haynes was racist and that the mere existence of the Stone Center is racist. To begin, if one makes this comment then one can also say that the mere existence of UNC is racist be it that it was built by slaves and originally opened as an all-white institution that did not admit the first black student until 1951 and continues to admit much smaller numbers of minority students and has far fewer minority student groups. For instance, do the Que’s, Kappa’s and Alpha’s [black fraternities] have houses on frat court??? So how can having one building to promote education on black history and education be considered racist? Is the stone center limited to only black and minority students??? Are its facilities only used by black students? I certainly did not see a blacks only sign outside the door when I went to class there yesterday. How can one black activists affiliation with a group that was all black and tireless work to uplift the black community mean she is racist when she worked so closely with and contributed so much to a university that was predominantly white? So the million dollar question is when did promoting education on black history and culture become racist? Especially when years of slavery erased so much from the history of African-American’s and most text books on history are published and written by whites about whites. Even at a predominantly black high school I had to take a course on African American studies to get more than a few chapters on the trans-Atlantic slave trade I read in my AP US History class. Although the term “black movement” is very broad and vague one can use context clues, common sense and whatever previous knowledge they have on American history (with regard to blacks) to infer that this term means the black cause in general and achieving equality and consciousness for blacks in America and all over the world. Anyone who is not completely ignorant to the history of African Americans in the U.S. could figure out what this term means. Lastly to simply call Black Panther members murderers is not only ignorant but also unfair when considering their history. For those who may not know, the Black Panther party started as a party for self defense to combat some of the harsh realities faced in every day dealings with police. Instead of sitting around watching while police harassed and brutalized blacks unjustly blacks came together, got weapons, organized and fought back. What about the several Black panthers that were murdered and harassed by police. What about all the political prisoners? Simply calling the Black panthers murderers discredits their dedication to public service and all the gains they made for black people. They stressed self-defense not unwarranted violence, they set up health care programs for blacks, fed children breakfast before school and taught them about black history that they did not learn in school. The black panther party should not only be known for their militancy but also their contributions to black consciousness and uplifting the overall moral of black people. What is so murderous about slogans about black power and black pride? There is all this talk about the Stone Center and Sonja Haynes being racist yet we have a Symposium “Spencer bell award” award created to recognize the most distinguished female faculty member named after Cornelia Phillips Spencer who was a blatant supremacist and believed white people were superior to black people. Then there is the fact that the symbolic heart of the university is the Caldwell monument (where Joseph Caldwell,his wife and her son are buried), although he was the 1st president of the University he owned slaves. Where is the debate about these much more obvious and racist things and persons??? Someone would rather focus their attention on black racism, which does exist but was actually a by-product of years of white hatred, violence, and racism towards blacks in America and is simply not present throughout the life of Sonja Haynes and the existence of the Stone Center. If you want to make a case for black racism and blacks pulling the race card for no reason consider more compelling evidence and better examples than those provided.

  3. @ Robert: I sincerely did not mean to degrade your mother beyond pointing out that I feel her involvement with such institutions as the Black Press and the Black Student Movement concern me and seem to me to be very nearly racist. Also, I do not find terms such as “black movement” constructive. I doubt sincerely that your mother was an out and out racist (i.e. believing other races to be inferior) and that was another point I attempted to make in this article. The term racism is thrown around too much in my opinion which is why I try not to overuse it. I do find the two groups mentioned in ther biography on the Stone Center’s website that she was involved with (the Black Press and the BSM) bigoted and unproductive when it comes to fighting racism. I also find the Stone Center’s perspective on race to be disterbing. I respect your points and I will change the sentence that reads “In conclusion, it seems to me that Sonja Stone was the closest thing there is to a racist” to more clearly reflect what I was trying to say.

    Nevertheless, I cannot think of what you mean when you say that I have lied. I will grant you however, that I most certainly have insulted the Stone Center. And, yes, if the stone center is racist then UNC, which funds it at least marginally and allows its presence on it’s property, is by extension, if not racist explicity, then it apparently has no problem with racism.

    @ Concerned Student: Things change, and just because the university was once racist against blacks does not mean it cannot now be racist against whites.

    And, with regard to the black Panthers, I did not mean to portray them in thier entirety, but celebrating them now does nothing to aid in fighting racism. It furthers division.

    Also, terms such as black power are racist, sorry.

    @ Robert and Concerned Student: In conclusion, my main point wasn’t that Mrs. Stone or that the Stone Center would ever stand up and stump against whitey, but I meant to turn the modern, overused term “racism” on its head and apply it to what has been, at least during my tenure here at UNC, a totally unexamined part of our community, the Stone Center. Would a Jesse Helms Center for White Studies be greeted with the same neutrality? I doubt it.

  4. Justin,

    Let us first define racism. Racism: 1. a belief that race is the primary determinant of human traits and capacities and that racial differences produce an inherent superiority of a particular race. 2. racial prejudice or discrimination.

    It is important that you use words correctly. If words are not used correctly then you cause confusion and may be accused of lying, which is what I accused you of.

    Show from her 17-year tenure at UNC that Dr. Stone was a racist based on the definition which is given above from Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary.

    You seem to assert that any thing that uses the prefix/adjective “black” in front of it as being “racist.” So, would a “black” athlete or a “black” cheerleader be “racist?”

    Also, based on the above definition, The Black Press Institute did not endorse racism either. Yet you seem so programmed to insist something that is not so. That to me is lying. You go on to say that Dr. Stone is the closest thing to a racist… because of what? You say so? You have no evidence. You want to make a point that you have no substance with which to make it. Since you do not have evidence for your point, you insinuate and use poor examples that cross the line into the realm of untruth. This is lying to me and to 90% of the people in this great country.

    There are plenty of staff and students of European descent at the university that would utterly disagree with your assertions that Dr. Stone was the “closest thing to a racist.” They would also disagree that the Center was racist. I ask you once again, have you spoken to anyone regarding Dr. Stone’s record at UNC or current staff about their experiences at the Center? If not, then I am going to have to keep calling it like I see it. You are using this medium to promote divisive, selfish, and untrue assertions.

    I have an idea, why don’t you check out some of the watchdog groups that monitor real racist media and you will get a more accurate picture of what racist publications and organizations, as well as individuals look like. It may be enlightening and surprising for you. I could provide a listing for you if and your readers would like.

  5. I defined what I believed racism to be in my article. I defined it as “the belief that one race is inherently superior to all others.” Perhaps this is not a complete enough definition for your tastes, but that is, to me, what I understand the term racism to mean. And, to be clear, I have changed the sentence that you cited (as I explained I would in my first comment) to more clearly reflect my point that I was attempting to, in a way, satirize the definition of racisim accepted by many in this country. If you turn the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton like definition of racism around then, from what little I know of Mrs. Stone, by that definition, she would be called a racist. To be frank, I am reffering to what I see as a hypersensitivity to the race issue where a joke regarding a race is construed as racist when in fact it was merely in bad taste. I am attempting to point out that there is a double standard when it comes to the race issue and that if whites were to organize a center of opposite implication from the Stone Center they would be labeled as a racist.

    It is true that not everything with the word black in front of it is racist. I make that point, at least implicitly, when I said that “Of course, a center for the study of black culture and history is not necessarily endowed with a racist mission.” However, I am not convinced, after reading what I can on it and having been a student here for two years and hearing about what the Stone Center does that the Stone Center is not a bigoted organization.

    Further, regarding the use of the term “black,” why would there be a need for a “black press” if it is not superior to a “white press?” Are you suggesting that a person would write for a news agency or read the product if they thought it inferiror? And how does doing so advance the cause of racial equality?

    Lastly, I obviously feel my examples are not poor ones, perhaps not the best, but certanily not untrue if one fully understands what I was trying to do (although I find that a press that discriminates against white journalists prejudice; same goes for the Black Student Movement).

    I cannot, nor will I ever, understand how it is productive to put effort into celebrating such things as the black and brown radical movement. That is, sir, where we disagree.

  6. And regarding your question: “Would a Jesse Helms Center for White Studies be greeted with the same neutrality? I doubt it.”

    I assume the late Jesse Helms is one of the people you admire. Okay, I see where you are coming from now. Folk like Helms call to mind a “glorious day” to some when members of a particular race did not have to apologize for subjugating other people due to the shade of their skin, creed, or culture. If you or anyone else would want Jesse Helms to represent you, then go for it.

  7. Regarding: “Further, regarding the use of the term “black,” why would there be a need for a “black press” if it is not superior to a “white press?””

    Sir, have you not studied the history of this country and nation that we call the United States? Why would there be a need? Perhaps you should enroll in some courses in the African American studies department and visit the Stone Center. My advice to you is if you intend to be a good writer, you must simultaneously be a great historian.

    Your question here reveals why there is a need for the Stone Center. When you have the opportunity, please google the following: United States slavery, Jim Crow, Dred Scott Decision, Plessy vs. Ferguson, Separate but Equal, and Segregation (at least google this).

    A good unbiased study of history and research in a good up to library will relieve many of the questions that you have. Go to those that have knowledge of this history and I am sure that you will receive a favorable reply.

  8. This will be my last comment as I do not wish this discussion to escalate into simply a series of insults.

    I do not fully understand whether Jesse Helms was a racist. I do believe he was probably a bigot most of his life. However, there is a double standard from what I can tell when it comes to judging bigots, at least in popular culture and in the media. Simply put, white bigots are despised and black/minority bigots seem to get a pass. I do not admire him for that. However, I do admire most of what I understand about Jesse Helm’s politics as I am a conservative and a Christian and I make no apology for appreciating his ability to communicate clearly many of my foundational political beliefs.

    Further, I have never, nor will I ever, “subjugate” anyone of any skin color simply for that reason. I do find it prudent, however, to “subjugate” those of the creed, for example, that racism is okay or say a culture that finds canibalism to be fine and dandy.

  9. Justin,

    After reading the comments you made about Dr. Stone and your evaluation of racism, it saddens me that we are still dealing with uneducated ignorance. You have been at the university for a total of two years. What possibly could you have gathered off observations and lucrative research.

    Most people that I have come in contact with embrace the presence of the Sonja Haynes Stone Center. They do not analyze or belittle a women who was well respected among her peers, students and abroad.

    Why don’t you take the time to educate yourself about the person who made a beautiful contribution to UNC students, instead using meaningless effort to disrespect the memory of a valued professor.

  10. This article and subsequent responses is all about perspective and experiences.

    The 20 year old who wrote the initial article, from his viewpoint, can feel he is completely right and while he was trying to make a play on the words “racist and racism”, he grossly mistated the characteristics of Professor Stone. His perspective is that of most of the younger generation today that has never experienced blatant and open racism. He has never seen a “For Whites Only” sign. Jim Crow is just another name to him. This kid has probably grown up where most of the folks around him have never had to worry about being subjected to demeaning treatment, whether black or white. So for his “ignorance”, I don’t fault him. What I would encourage him to do, (as Robert did) is to to read a few books/articles that would give him some new perspective. From Robert’s standpoint, I would totally be pointing out all of the flaws in the article, because it was an open attack on his mother. Notice how the kid tried to backpeddle on some of his comments after Robert clearly identified that he was the son of Dr. Stone.

    As for the other gentleman’s comment. He has obvious ties to Jesse Helms in some shape form or fashion. Reading between the lines and understanding what comments people lead with is a trait that I have learned a few years back. You tend to understand what is important to them, no matter how much filler they put into their conversation or article. His emphasis on “tradition” refers to what we commonly know as the “good ole’ days”. Some traditions, are legit. Some are bogus. Some have shamed many people over the years. My response to him would begin to question whether he believed all traditions were to be glorified, or if some of the things that happened in the past (and the principles they were based upon), were indeed erroneous and fueled with hate? From there, you could get a clearer picture on the foundation of his and his organization’s beliefs. I actually think he touched on this in his response, but I would have to go back and read it again.

    At the end of the day, the current job of our people is to EDUCATE and let folks make their own decisions. Just as we were raised to believe certain things, others were raised with their own set of values and beliefs. Robert did a good job of suggested reading, but to get into the kid’s head, you have to also have him read books that also focus on white supremacy as well, so that he can fully grasp the need for the education of not only our people, but of people like himself who are ignorant to the plight of ALL people. Which is all the more reason why we must be educated ourselves and versed enough to explain complex thoughts to simpleton-like folks.

  11. Since we all seem to concerned with “educating ourselves” on this post, just thought that I’d point out that Mr. Stone’s comments on the derivation of the word black are in fact incorrect. The word “black” is derived from the Latin word “niger” meaning “black.” That’s it. The word was never used to denote any sort of sense of property or ownership. Just as an aside, they also had a very different understanding of what slavery was. The Romans never engaged in the sort of racial slavery that was prevalent among the European powers during the period of New World expansion. Any conquered people could be enslaved. So, they were in fact color-blind on the issue of slavery. So, you may want to take that into account before you indiscriminately accuse the entire European race of being a bunch of white supremacists. If you want to be a truly great scholar of the Latin Language, you may want to brush up on your vocabulary. The Romans did not enslave based on race.

  12. mseeling,

    Who indiscriminately accused the European race of being a “bunch of white supremacists?” I don’t recall seeing that in the above posts. I have travelled to Italy and Greece and I enjoyed being there. I felt the people have a rich history and I enjoy studying it myself. No one accused Romans of the past as being racists either. Why, anyone who studies history knows that there were many different nationalities and races that were part of the Roman empire. This included European, African, and Asian. All were citizens.

    As for correcting me on negro, thanks. [“Negro” means “black” in Spanish, Portuguese, and ancient Italian[6]; all of these derive from the Latin niger (i.e. “black”). – wikipedia]. I intended to say Latin-languages like Portuguese and Spanish. But check out the works of Gomes Eannes De Azurara to see how negro was used by the Portuguese. It’s a very interesting history.

  13. I just read all the dialogue between Robert Stone and Justin Crowder, and I have to say that I am astounded by Mr. Stone’s lack of ability to actually understand what Mr. Crowder was saying. I think that the problem is that Robert is not able to visualize what the outcry would be from the “Black Movement”, an as yet undefined term, if there were a “White Studies” program, or a “White Student Union”, or a group called the “White Panthers” that chanted “White Power”.

  14. Mary,

    I have concluded my thoughts on this discussion. I sincerely appreciate Justin for removing the picture of my mom.

    I simply return to what, I believe, most on this site have already stated: there is a need for a more in depth study of the history of this country, UNC, the state of NC, etc.

    Mary, I get your point. But for the record, check out the link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_Panther_Party

    This is my final post.

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