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KKK Style Hood at UCSD – Racial tensions escalate

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Photo from Omar Omar via Flickr

Photo from Omar Omar via Flickr

A pillow case made to look like a Ku Klux Klan-style hood was found draped over the statue of Theodor Geisel at the same spot where celebrations for the man otherwise known as Dr. Seuss were going to take place for the famed author’s birthday. The event had already been canceled as a result of the recent racial turmoil.

The statue that stands outside of the Geisel library was found with a white pillowcase “crudely fashioned into a KKK-style hood with a hand drawn symbol” draped over it, according to a statement issued by the University. A rose was also inserted into the statue’s finger. The discovery was made at around 11 pm Monday night and UCSD police are conducting an investigation.

The statement says that the items found on the statue will be processed for evidence including DNA and fingerprints, to find who is responsible. It also quotes UCSD Chancellor Marye Anne Fox who says “we will not allow this incident, or any other incident, to deter the progress we are making to change and heal our university community.”

This is the latest incident that has come out of the controversy that started with the off campus “Compton Cookout” party two weeks ago. Tensions escalated with the airing of the student-run Koala TV show that ridiculed the outrage about the party and used a racial slur.

On Monday, UCSD’s student newspaper The Guardian printed an anonymous apology letter written by the person responsible for hanging a noose in the school’s library last Thursday. The person identified themselves as a female minority student and the newspaper stated that they verified her identity.

The student states that the incident was a “mindless act and stupid mistake,” and that it was not intended to be an act of racism. The student also explained that it was a friend that tied the piece of rope she had found earlier in the day into a noose and says that she “innocently marveled at his ability to tie a noose, without thinking of any of its connotations or the current racial climate at UCSD.”

The letter also stated that the student felt “ashamed and embarrassed” when she heard that the noose had been discovered and believed to be a racist act and that she immediately called the university police to confess.

She admitted that she had been suspended and according to the San Diego Union-Tribune she may also face criminal charges. The student apologized and stated that “as a minority student who sympathizes with the students that have been affected by the recent issues on campus, I am distraught to know that I have unintentionally added to their pain.”

As a result of the uproar, a community forum titled “UCSD On My Mind: Education is a Civil Right” will be held Wednesday at 6 pm at Mt. Erie Baptist Church. The event is being organized by The Urban League of San Diego County and the National Council of Negro Women along with other groups. The forum will feature UCSD Chancellor Fox, San Diego City Councilman Tony Young and other prominent San Diego leaders.

The discovery of the noose along with the previous incidents are drawing national attention to the university, including articles in the LA Times and condemnations from California leaders including Governor Schwarzenegger. UC leaders are also speaking out about the incidents at UCSD and other UC campuses.

The UCSD police department announced on Tuesday evening that they have filed the noose investigation as a possible hate crime with the San Diego city attorney and they also consulted with the San Diego County District Attorney’s office and the FBI on possible criminal charges according to the Union-Tribune.

7 Comments

  1. Benito Juarez

    March 3, 2010 at 9:43 am

    June 4, 1977: An original poem composed for the 99th Commencement of Lake Forest College by Theodor Seuss Geisel (a.k.a Dr. Seuss). Eugene Hotchkiss III was president of Lake Forest College from 1970 to 1993.

    Dr. Seuss Keeps Me Guessing
    A Commencement story by President Emeritus Eugene Hotchkiss III

    As Theodor Geisel (a.k.a Dr. Seuss) stepped forward to join me at the podium on a bright spring day in 1977, I began nervously to read the citation accompanying the degree the College would be awarding him on this occasion. Although he was listed in the program as the Commencement speaker, I was uncertain if he would accept his degree with anything more than a thank you. And thereby hangs a tale.

    The search for a Commencement speaker that year had been unusually frustrating and unsuccessful; one after another of those recommended by the seniors declined. I recall to this day the visit from a reporter of the Stentor, who was preparing copy for the final issue of the year. He pled unsuccessfully with me to give him the name of the individual who would address the graduating class. Alas, at that late hour not even I knew who he or she might be. Suddenly I recalled that a trustee of the College, Kenneth Montgomery, had once told me that should I ever need a speaker he would be willing to approach his good friend Ted Geisel and invite him to the campus. “Green eggs and ham,” thought I. “Why not?”

    A phone contact was made by Trustee Montgomery, who told me that Mr. Geisel would be pleased to be honored at the Commencement ceremony. I quickly informed the Stentor, and the word was out: Dr. Seuss would be the Commencement speaker. The seniors were elated, but I was told that some faculty expressed the opinion that my choice just proved that the Seuss books were likely the last ones I had ever read!

    Still, I relaxed…until, responding to a formal invitation I had written describing the nature of Commencement and his talk, Mr. Geisel called to say that there must have been a mistake. He thought he was being asked to receive a degree, not to talk. “I talk with people, not to people,” he declared, and if, he continued, I was proposing that he give an address, there had been a grave mistake. No, he reported just days before Commencement, he would not agree to speak.

    As I pondered my choices I grasped onto his statement to me, and I urged him to arrive early Friday afternoon so that he might talk with the graduates at the senior reception. And then, talking with him in person, I would attempt to persuade him to talk to the graduates, albeit if only briefly. He agreed to come to the campus as early has he could on Friday, although because he lived in California and would be flying against the clock, the odds of a timely arrival were slim indeed.

    The events on the day preceding Commencement were several, and each was surreptitiously extended so that the reception would be delayed, anticipating Mr. Geisel’s late arrival. Happily, shortly after the now-delayed reception began, he joined my wife, Sue, and me in the receiving line and did indeed talk with the graduates and many others, even autographing some well-loved Dr. Seuss books. Still, I wondered, would he be willing to say anything from the podium the next day?

    Both before and after dinner that Friday evening, I talked with him informally, hoping the influence of good wine might soften his resolve as it strengthened mine. I urged him to respond following the awarding of his degree, but he did not waiver. Perhaps the best that could be made of a desperate situation, thought I, was to announce at the Commencement that, as he requested, he had indeed talked with the graduates on Friday and to thank him for his cordiality. The evening came to an end — well, almost, for I did not sleep well that night, and I could hear the seniors partying and, undoubtedly, discussing the talk their much-liked Dr. Seuss would give.

    On Commencement morning, as the honored guests robed in their academic regalia, I again asked Mr. Geisel if he would be willing to say but a few words, acknowledging his degree. Still his silence was penetrating. Finally the time came to read his citation. As I reached its end and as Faculty Marshals Rosemary Cowler and Franz Schulze stepped forth to place the hood over his head, I spoke these penultimate words, for which I must credit my wife, Sue: “We proclaim you not the ‘Cat in the Hat’ but the ‘Seuss in the Noose’.” And then I awarded him the College’s degree of Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa.

    At that moment, fearing his response, I shook his hand in a whisper and asked him if he would be willing to say a few words. He reached under his academic gown, announcing loudly for all to hear that it was “a bathrobe,” pulled out a piece of paper from his shirt pocket and turned to the microphone. And the rest, as they say, is history.

    On Dr. Seuss’s piece of paper were these words:

    My Uncle Terwilliger on
    the Art of Eating Popovers

    My uncle ordered popovers
    from the restaurant’s bill of fare.
    And, when they were served,
    he regarded them
    with a penetrating stare…
    Then he spoke great Words of Wisdom
    as he sat there on that chair:
    “To eat these things,”
    said my uncle,
    “you must exercise great care.
    You may swallow down what’s solid…
    BUT…
    you must spit out the air!”

    And…
    as you partake of the world’s bill of fare,
    that’s darned good advice to follow.
    Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.
    And be careful what you swallow.
    —Dr. Seuss

    http://www.lakeforest.edu/alumni/spectrum/spring04/seuss.asp

  2. kkk

    March 3, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    People are to wacked out these days.. really who cares about something like this.

  3. Michael

    March 3, 2010 at 4:45 pm

    I am a student at UCSD, I care a great deal when protesters dress up Dr. Seuss as a KKK clansman. Dr. Seuss is a loving symbol of this university and to dress him up as a symbol of hate in order to drum up support for the Black Student Union, a society that supports segregated spaces based on ethnicity and openly announces their distaste for the first amendment, makes me not only loose face in the administration for the school but for humanity in general.

    For all the “race hate” that has been associated with UCSD, a student here I am quite shocked to hear. If you look at our crime report http://police.ucsd.edu/docs/AnnualClery.pdf
    you will see that in 3 years we have had a total of 2 hate crime reports.

    UCSD is a colorblind school, with 75% of the students minorities all be it not the “right kind” of minorities, mostly Asian, Indian, Pacific Islanders, etc.. All the race hate talked about in the media is based on a facebook group copy pasted from urbandictionary.com. Which although horribly offensive, encouraged no kind of violent action, its deplorable of course, but is it indicative of UCSD being a university of hate, i think its pretty clearly not.

    A more interesting story would be to see how the UCSD Student Council responded to these incidents, by openly violating the first amendment, and silencing 33 media organizations because they disagreed with their message.

    I think there is a problem in our UC system with giving access to underprivileged children, one that is necessary to address a quickly as possible. But to address that through segregation of races, and treatment based on skin color sounds like the very definition of racism.

  4. Montana

    March 3, 2010 at 7:45 pm

    (1) UCSD: A group of dumb white frat guys hold an event called a “Compton Cookout.” This pisses people off as it used Black History Month as a reason to mock black people with racist stereotypes. Also involved is some idiot who tries to use this opportunity for shameless self-promotion, who also happens to be black. To say the least, the guy is basically a wannabe Flavor Flav.

    (2) UCSD: Another dumb white frat guy gets mad that blacks are offended of being relegated to a bigoted stereotype. He tries to hold another racist event.

    (3) UCSD: Meanwhile, a terrible student media publication (which, after viewing their website consists of all white staff, nudity, staff wrestling each other, and well, not much else), pushes their limits calling black students “ungrateful n——” – not just that word, but also that apparently the black students owed them something. They have a reputation of being trashy, and at this point, administration and faculty rush to condemn racism by students of the campus and various protests begin. Funding is also cut from all student media at UCSD, creating an extra bitter controversy.

    (4) UCSD: On Friday of that week, a noose is found in the library. Everything gets worked in a frenzy and – something I’ll address later – a large amount of white commenter’s on the internet begin claiming that is was probably a black student who planted it in order to gain more sympathy. In addition, there are rumors of a threatening note sent to the Guardian and a second noose, there was no second noose, and the threat seems to be just a rumor.

    (6) UCSD: Protests basically happen at all schools in support of the students. There are various sit-ins, and teach-ins, and what have you. School administrators become pushed to be more active in fixing what’s going on.

    I have not seen this noose person, but most of you blame her and conveniently forget wear this all originated.

    Instead of an apology there has been steady escalation and now the noose. So, what exactly will the excuses be for this cowardly act that brings up memories of the confederate KKK of the South in their attempts to keep slavery and the non-whites in fear? Is it that are uneducated, is it that their parents planted these seeds of hate, is it that they are live in fear because our President in the white house is not 100% white. In my opinion this is what the republican party of “birthers, baggers and blowhards” have brought you. These kids follow what their dullard leaders say, they listen to Beck, Hedgecock, Hannity, O’Reilly, Rush and Savage and the rest of the Blowhards, they are young and dumb. Are you surprise at what they do when you know what they think?

  5. Cat in the Hood

    March 9, 2010 at 1:20 am

    Dear Chancellor Fox:

    I am writing to you concerning the continued racial controversies at various University of California campuses. Since the noose left at the UCSD library has been removed, I’m contemplating to send you a new one. Why? Because a good old-fashioned lynching is in order.

    Before you rush to conclusions, let me explain.

    The current episode of turmoil began with a local party whose theme poked fun at stereotypes supposedly representative of South Central LA. Any reasonable person would readily perceive this approach as satire, a longstanding literary and dramatic device. Was it offensive? As with most satire, it definitely was – and that is good.

    You see, when we are offended, we are likely to react. Unless that reaction is simply a knee-jerk response (such as that by your office), a reaction requires activation of one’s brain. You may agree that activating our brains is infinitely preferable over mindlessly swallowing whatever b.s. we happen to be served.

    One particularly unpalatable piece of b.s. that is shoved down our collective throat is “diversity.”

    In its original form, diversity is highly desirable. In nature, biologically diverse ecosystems are less vulnerable to diseases and more productive than monocultures. On a university campus, opposing (or even merely different) viewpoints spur lively debate, which in turn fosters creativity and innovation. Without question, humanity collectively benefits from the contributions inspired by a large variety of backgrounds and experiences.

    Why has the University of California chosen to adopt race/ethnicity as the single decisive factor in furthering diversity? Are you ensuring UCSD receives a balanced mix of Republicans and Democrats? Gays and heterosexuals? Opera lovers and metal heads? Meat eaters and vegans? How about students who prefer the writings of Ayn Rand versus those of Karl Marx? Perhaps a proper mix of students interested in quantum physics and aspiring poets (and those writing poetry about quantum physics)? Folks that can appreciate Dr. Seuss on a subversive level, and those who can’t? I’m virtually certain that more diverse viewpoints will result from any of these arbitrary traits than the color of someone’s skin.

    I assumed that college application essays served to differentiate students beyond grades and test scores. It appears that with all the budget cuts, there is no staff to read them. Therefore, instead of treating students as the unique individuals they are, it seems easier to simply lump them into categories with emotionally charged labels.

    Sure, race and ethnicity, along with height, weight and gender, are the most obvious traits we notice about people we meet, before they have a chance to open their mouths and let us glean some insight into more substantial aspects of their personas. But isn’t that precisely the sort of simpleminded superficiality higher education is supposed to eradicate?

    Throughout history, people with their own agendas have used arbitrary traits to unite, divide and discriminate against people. Each time, they applied a nice, shiny euphemism. “Preserving family values” – sounds like a good thing, right? How about “preserving the pure blood of the Aryan race?” It gives us cold chills today, but it sounded perfectly benign, even laudable, during the Nazi era.

    Another shiny euphemism is “diversity.” If we add more “blacks” (however you may define that label), we will create a student body that is more balanced and representative of our society – so goes the reasoning du jour. Are we going to assume that “blacks” … come from challenged socioeconomic backgrounds? Are more conscious about human rights? Have rhythm? Jump higher?

    I am not privy to UCSD’s list of stereotypical “black” traits. Make no mistake, that list exists, even if it is only implied – because every time we attempt to force a group of diverse (in its original meaning) individuals under a labeled (or red and white striped) hat, we give birth to such a list. Such a list, while perhaps not offensive at first glance, is far more damaging than the list of attributes used by the Compton Cookout as the recommended attire, behavior and attitude of its attendees. Because any list that is born under the auspices of a prestigious institution such as UCSD will automatically be imbued with a sense of legitimacy.

    The characteristics we choose to identify others and ourselves mark the dividing lines between social groups. By focusing on race, we are furthering this broken model of diversity.

    If we allow racial definitions to divide us, if we allow the fear of symbols to control us, if we allow the threat of persecution to silence us, our race – the human race – will succumb to the worst form of slavery.

    This is my call to hunt down and publicly execute the ignorant and racist notions that have hijacked the concept of diversity. What better place than a library, a place of learning and organized knowledge? Let’s hang these ill-conceived ideas from the rafters and let their rotting corpses remind us that if we want to vanquish racism, we must start by treating all people equally.

    For if we allow misguided preconceptions to live, we are bound to witness the death of the accomplishments brought by the Civil Rights Movement, of free speech, and of our human dignity.

    Yours sincerely,

    The Cat in the Hood

  6. BenitoJuarez

    March 10, 2010 at 5:22 pm

    June 4, 1977: An original poem composed for the 99th Commencement of Lake Forest College by Theodor Seuss Geisel (a.k.a Dr. Seuss). Eugene Hotchkiss III was president of Lake Forest College from 1970 to 1993.

    On Dr. Seuss’s piece of paper were these words:

    My Uncle Terwilliger on
    the Art of Eating Popovers

    My uncle ordered popovers
    from the restaurant’s bill of fare.
    And, when they were served,
    he regarded them
    with a penetrating stare…
    Then he spoke great Words of Wisdom
    as he sat there on that chair:
    “To eat these things,”
    said my uncle,
    “you must exercise great care.
    You may swallow down what’s solid…
    BUT…
    you must spit out the air!”

    And…
    as you partake of the world’s bill of fare,
    that’s darned good advice to follow.
    Do a lot of spitting out the hot air.
    And be careful what you swallow.
    —Dr. Seuss

    http://www.lakeforest.edu/alumni/spectrum/spring04/seuss.asp

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mrMCqOmsMB4

  7. Pablo Martinea

    February 2, 2011 at 4:42 am

    I’m still learning from you, as I’m trying to reach my goals. I certainly liked reading everything that is posted on your website.Keep the tips coming. I enjoyed it

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