Thoughts on Duke, Class, and Race

The District Attorney recently exonerated all members charged with sexual assault in the Duke University lacrosse case. There were clearly no winners here. Moreover, the Duke lacrosse case illustrates both the racial and class resentment that exists in America. Just like the O.J. murder case, Duke lacrosse brought to life both the social and economic problems Americans tend to ignore. Because inequality in education exists, many minorities do not receive the proper education needed to attend a Duke. Think about the number of elite private schools in the country that have a very small number of black students. Often enough, blacks are victims of educational slavery in that many live in low property tax communities. Thus, minority public schools are faced with the challenge of hiring elite faculty members as well as providing each student with adequate resources for learning. This type of class division creates resentment and hate towards those who are privileged. 

For one, as popular as Duke University is with its $ 5 billion endowment, its elite faculty members, and its popular sports team (basketball), many residents living in the Durham area dislike Duke because of its perceived lack of investment in the local community. Locals contend that Duke is nothing more than a temporary haven for rich white kids. Moreover, black students who attend Duke have had to create their own social environment. Campus festivals and activities are built around fraternities and “white cultural endeavors” that would clearly make blacks feel out of place. Just like the O.J. case, many of America’s black population were supporting the black female who claimed rape as a show of solidarity. Blacks want white America to see how race and class are still used to subjugate not only blacks, but non elites too.  Most black Americans knew O.J. was guilty; they supported him as a form of protest against white America. Some black Americans feel as though whites in power have turned their backs on the racially abusive culture long promulgated by elitism. For example, in the minds of black folks, white supremacy is prevalent in all institutions of power, especially police departments. In Cornel West’s Race Matters, he states that

white America has been historically weak willed in ensuring racial justice and has continued to resist fully accepting the humanity of blacks. As long as double standards and differential treatment abound — as long as rap performer Ice-T is harshly condemned while former Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl F. Gates’s anti-black comments are received in polite silence, as long as Dr. Leonard Jeffries’s anti-Semitic statements are met with vitriolic outrage while presidential candidate Pat Buchanan’s anti-Semitism receives a general response — black nationalism will thrive.

Unlike the connection blacks feel towards the black female, they never felt any connection to O.J. He was viewed as a black elitist who turned his back on black folks, much like that of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, who continues to attack affirmative action.  Blacks exploited the O.J. case to show America how much racism still exists in society. As for the female who claimed rape, it appears that blacks are supporting her because there were clearly signs of racism found among the lacrosse players. Many of them admitted to using racial slurs as well as being abusive to the black co-ed. In the end, here are the clear losers in all of this:

  • Women – feminism took a step backwards here. It is my understanding that rape victims are slow to come forward. Imagine if you are a college female who was date raped — will people believe you after this?
  • Duke’s lacrosse coach — he should not have been fired. According to an internal investigation, he did everything by the book. I feel for him.
  • Durham — race relations on Duke’s campus are pretty sticky.
  • The defendants — some left campus, lost a year of eligibility, and are faced with rebuilding their reputation (thanks for this point Rob Kernodle).
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22 thoughts on “Thoughts on Duke, Class, and Race

  1. I agree with your losers in all of this, but it seems as if you shifted the blame from the black female. She is pretty guilty here.

  2. I disagree with your assessment that there were no winners in the Duke case. Roy Cooper emerged triumphant. He could have taken the easy way out. He didn’t. Instead, he ignored issues of state tort liability and the possible loss of the black vote and he pronounced the defendants INNOCENT. He didn’t dismiss the charges for lack of evidence. He unequivocally stated that the evidence showed that no crime had been committed.

    He made a promise not to be distracted by any consideration but the facts. He ignored the politics. He followed through on his promise. This was the most politically courageous act I have ever witnessed. His press conference may become known as the defining momemt of his career. Roy Cooper is a winner in my eyes.

    Mike in Nevada

  3. Alain,

    I think there were a lot of frustrated people in 1994, esp. after the Rodney King conclusion. Brutality pushed people to unreasonable actions (the riots) and support (O.J.). Do I agree with this, of course not. However, from what I have read, people lost hope in the system.

  4. Hey Mike,

    “He didn’t dismiss the charges for lack of evidence. He unequivocally stated that the evidence showed that no crime had been committed.”

    I agree with you here. But some would say that she was emotionally abused by the racial slurs and aggressive behavior by the lacrosse members. Of course, and not that I am agreeing with this, I am not, but she works in a professsion that clearly puts her in bad situations.

    When things get this ugly, I really do not see how society in general wins. It is like we all took a step backwards. Though, some would say this issue illustrates that we have not moved forward. I for one think we have; I think race relations have come a long way.

    Thanks for the view.

  5. She may have been called some bad names, so it’s okay to accuse some rich white boys of rape? Uh…no.

    I understand why a certain class or race would root for its own, but to forsake justice for politics is scary. Is that the kind of social “victories” this country needs?

  6. From the Wall Street Journal:

    “It began as a narrative all-too-familiar to those schooled in the “race-class-gender” ideology taught at Duke and other prestige universities. White male privilege, in the form of the Duke Lacrosse Team; black female victimization, in the person of a stripper from the other side of town hired to entertain them. Into this template came the allegation of rape, unleashed amid the modern world of media saturation that elevates instant judgements….. But unless we get past the narrative that prematurely judged them, similar miscarriages of justice are bound to follow.”

  7. Nice disclaimer Carson. I don’t think any of the people involved were all that innocent. The Lacrosse players had some cheap thrills at the expense of what little dignity the strippers might have had. Everyone’s image was significantly damaged but the allegations seem really vindictive on the part of the black stripper. I don’t quite think verbal insults are on par with criminal allegations of rape that results in arrest, expulsion from school and not to mention irreparable harm to their professional careers. I guess the moral is be careful if you have alot to lose.

  8. This is mostly unrelated, but as I was watching an episode of Gilmore Girls yesterday, there was a guest character that reminded me almost exactly of you. He was playing the editor of the Princeton University newspaper I believe.

  9. Matt S,

    That is a tough one to top. It is true; however, there is a reason why we have scholarship in both critical race theory and gender construction. The key is whether or not we learn from this. To be honest with you, I think this issue is about far more than race. Since the 1980s, women realized the fate of their plight when competing with men. A recent poll stated that men feared women accusing them of some type of sexual misconduct on the job more than an economic down turn.

  10. In 100 years people will no longer be racist, homophobic, sexists, classists, etc. They will look at the period the same way we look at slavery. We must help society reach that point

  11. That is a really nice thought and I certainly hope you are right but I really doubt it. I don’t think ignorance or poverty will every be gone and as long as those two factors exist and people have economic, racial and cultural differences, those things will always exist. Although I do hope that I’m wrong and Utopia exists.

  12. Well, he wore a bowtie and a blazer and used words strangely and was a little pompous and had extremely complex sentence structure. As he was just a character that was briefly on an episode of my current favorite tv show, I didn’t get to know him that well, but he was you.

  13. That is funny; I will keep my eyes open for this imposter. Interesting that he was at Princeton. Alejandro and I will be there next week. We will hunt him down. Oh, it is my favorite show too.

  14. I will ask her; right now she thinks that I have lost my mind with this Duke position. She does agree with you on a few pointed points in your comment. I will not say which one.

  15. Carson,

    You are not as pompous as Cornel West. I guess Kristi can talk about you since she was one of your students, right? I picked up a copy of Race Matters last night after hearing you talk about him. Very smart guy, he needs more evidence to support some of what he writes about. After reading his comment on this blog article, assumed he would be a mad black militant, not at all the case. He spent sometime talking about Justice Thomas. Not a fan. He said nothing about the OJ Simpson case.

  16. Hey Jaylon,

    Kristi has been doing this for years. I invite this. Good humor and honesty is healthy and fun. Of course, one might need a good ego to enjoy it. Only students I like can do this.

    As for West’s book, it was published before the O.J. deal, but right after the Rodney King beating — I believe. Yes, he does not like Thomas. Read the section on the new black conservatives. I wish I could check, but I am sitting in a room listening to high school bands compete for a state championship 3 hours from Houston. Then, I am off to Boston. I seem to fit in better these days with band students…not football players. Football players have been avoiding my courses of late.

  17. Check this…. Based on the color of my skin I’m guilty of slavery. My family, not the people I look like, but my family had nine members fought in the civil war only five came back. Still the Rev Sharpton ( What church does he hold sermons at?) and Jackson say I may not be guilty of slavery but I should feel bad.
    Here’s the kicker….. I nor any white person ever got a THANK YOU for the sacrifices made by us. You know it was the bloodiest war ever fought on American soil, it was white on white, but the white man did nothing for blacks…… Isn’t that funny?

    Any time a person of color tells you that you need to feel bad about slavery you let them know they are direct descendants of Treasonist turn coats!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    During the revolutionary war the British went down south and said if any slave fought for one year they would be granted freedom…. Blacks turned out in droves. Thousands of slaves went and fought AGAINST the Americans. THAT’S TREASON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I know, I know they were fighting for their freedom so that excuses the crime. Wrong… in every country through out time up till today no one excuses Treason…… There is not excuse

    Some people will say well America wasn’t a country at the time…. We didn’t become a country until 1782. Well that great but every American accepts 1776 as our birth of a nation. So any crimes against America starting form July 4,1776 is a crime against America …… Including Treason.

    Whites who fought against slavery, those who made it a crime to have slaves should fell bad about something that was COMPLETELY LEGAL until whites changed that, but blacks are not guilty of Treason, an act that is still punishable by death. Why? Blacks may feel bad? Oh no… the ONLY people who say all the time whites should feel bad……. We can’t have those people feel bad about THEIR indiscretions. That would be wrong….. Matter of fact many may call me a racist for pointing out the truth.

    REMEMBER whites this is for when you are told to feel bad about slavery. It is not an argument to make blacks feel bad.

    We ALL need to stop letting the media divide us along color lines. We need solidarity so we can fight the ones separating us.

    A few moons ago the powers that be gave control of two piers along the west side of Manhattan…. Every New Yorker stood up together regardless of race, creed, or color and said WE WILL NOT HAVE THIS. The next day that came to a screeching halt. Proving to me that the power of the American people was still strong.
    That is my dream… The power of the American people.

    When we all stand up and tell Them (powers that be) WE will not have this anymore. I know as you and They know it will truly be a new day.

    Here’s your war cry ———–
    THIS IS A NEW DAY AND WE WILL NOT BE DEVIDED ANY MORE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    -Tyler Goines
    4/14/07

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