March 10, 2013 § 2 Comments
I wrote this in response to a letter to the editor in my hometown’s newspaper:
A letter to the editor last week suggested Leonard Pitts Jr., a Pulitzer nominated journalist who was recently guest faculty at Princeton, is “one of the most notable racist columnists in the country.” As an Afro-American studies major I often see white power and Black power conflated. In fact, the former is an offshoot of white supremacy or our system of privilege which has dominated our country’s institutions for the past four hundred some years and the latter is, at worst, an attempt to counteract some of those privileges.
Stokley Carmichael, one of Black power’s more contemporary advocates, describes it in an insightful article entitled “What We Want.” To Carmichael, Black power is “the coming-together of Black people to elect representatives [who] speak to their needs.” Furthermore, it is power from and for the Black community. In short: self autonomy and respect.
In my experience on the University of Wisconsin Madison campus, this should not be so much to ask for but oftentimes I see my friends who are Black encounter extreme racism on the street and even in the classroom. On two separate occasions last Halloween I saw my friends get called the n-word. In the face of such hatred, they responded with calm, collected resolve to educate their peers on their privilege, just as Leonard Pitts Jr. does in his column.
Perhaps the author of said letter should focus their fervor on commentators like Don Imus who called the Rutgers women’s basketball team a bunch of “nappy headed hoes.”