Post on UVa Racism

UVa’s annual bout of racism has earned it coverage in the Washington Post today:

Just a few weeks into the school year, U-Va. has had at least nine racist incidents — slurs shouted from cars, ugly words written on message boards, a racist threat scrawled on a bathroom wall. And students, parents and alumni are demanding change.

[…]

The university has had a troubled racial history, and reaction to the recent incidents — all directed at black students — has been stark.

M. Rick Turner, dean of African American affairs, said the climate is the worst he has seen in his 18 years with the university. “I call it racial terrorism — it’s gone beyond racial incidents.

Ladies and gentlemen, the always-helpful Rick Turner, deescalating the rhetoric.

28 Responses to “Post on UVa Racism”


  • Why not call it “racial terrorism” definition of terrorism is trying to scare people for political gain and personal gains. In this case they are trying to scare and make blacks and basically anyone who isnt white and/or straight feel afraid or uncomfortable attending the university. If they stop well then there is their personal or political gain. I think its fitting language.

  • It may fit a strict definition of the term, but “terrorism” means, to nearly all Americans, killing large numbers of people. Whenever the word “terrorist” gets bandied around to describe anything other than mass murders, it’s a sign that the discussion has begun to wander off of the edge of the map of reasonableness.

  • “Some students said privately that the incidents had been overblown, that they were probably the work of a drunk townie, not someone on campus, and that it was better to ignore it than to give the perpetrators attention.

    Some pointed to other things that were written, anti-Christian and anti-gay, and said it wasn’t only a race issue.”

    guess nobody has the guts to say this publicly, for fear of being branded a racist. score one more for m. rick and his “P.C. Terrorism” [tic].

  • Oh please give me a break! These people are afraid to say these things publicly because they know how ridiculous they sound.

    “Some pointed to other things that were written, anti-Christian and anti-gay, and said it wasn’t only a race issue.”
    Im confused by this statement. Is it supposed to make this situation better that these cowards are not only targeting blacks but Christians and gas as well? Look the fact is most white Americans cannot deal with the issue of race without getting tense. I don’t see what the big deal is with acknowledging that racism exists. Many walk around and say oh slavery ended 150 years ago so now we are all better. Let me just remind you slavery, yes ended hundred+ years ago, but then you have the black codes, then Jim crow, which takes us up to the 1960s. So legal racism in this country has been legal up to 40 years ago and if you want to talk about real estate discrimination, it’s still going on today!

    “Some students said privately that the incidents had been overblown, that they were probably the work of a drunk townie, not someone on campus, and that it was better to ignore it than to give the perpetrators attention.”
    Some “drunk townie” hmmm so first they are saying these things don’t mean anything because the people doing them were drunk… Then they are suggesting that this isn’t the work of UVa students. RIGHT. I live in Charlottesville full time. That means when the summer ends I’m still here and it never fails to amaze me how the racial incidents stop when the students leave. Not only that why would some “townie” drive from their home in Albemarle, Greene, Nelson, Fluvanna, or even in Charlottesville just to yell at some students? Please it doesn’t even sound right.
    Look, these are students, racism is very prevalent, and NO student at the University of Virginia should have to deal with this. We are here to learn, not to be some ignorant punk’s cultural dictionary or beating/yelling stick.

    If only some of you people put as much effort into eradicating the problem of public racism as you do spending time bashing Dean Turner and trying to find excuses for what is going on , then maybe, just MAYBE we would have moved a little further on. Its funny how you all rarely make hostile statements regarding the attackers but as soon as Dean Turner’s name comes up you bring out all guns blazing.

  • I agree with something these “students speaking privately” said – it’s a misstep to give these perpetrators attention. I don’t think there is anything we can do to keep a few ignorant people from yelling or spray painting something stupid. If anything, the attention they get probably encourages them. However, UVa will continue to hold dialogues, issue condemnations, host town hall meetings, and do any number of other meaningless things that have no chance of making a difference, other than to allow those participating to pat themselves on the back and feel important. After the show though, UVa is still an institution making race-based admissions decisions, hosting numerous race-exclusive student groups, and hiring someone like Turner to make racist statements on the university’s behalf. These things are no less racist than writing nigger on someone’s message board. At some point, we’re going to need to actually stop classifying people we’ve never met based on what color their skin is.

    UVA08: “Look, the fact is most white Americans cannot deal with the issue of race without getting tense”

    Maybe this kid can start in his next post.

  • This really gets me fired up. I can’t think of Dean Turner without thinking of this quote from C-Ville Weekly (which should have gotten him fired), back from the Daisy Lundy days:

    “White folks don’t change, they don’t have the moral courageousness to change…”

    Folks, I don’t have the moral courageousness to change. I didn’t know it until Rick told me, though.

    Thank you Dean Turner, and especially the cowardly inactive administration who continues to allow him to spew this vitriolic, rascist filth. Congratulations UVA, racism is indeed systemic and institutionalized at your fair University. TJ would be proud.

  • “Its funny how you all rarely make hostile statements regarding the attackers but as soon as Dean Turner’s name comes up you bring out all guns blazing. ”

    Just had to renew my statement I think it fits in really nice here.

  • Fine, UVA08. These attackers are horrible. Why don’t you go round ’em up and put ’em in jail since you’re so certain they’re UVA students. Just go find the Confederate Flag bumper stickers and the reddest necks on the Lawn and fry ’em up.

    Me? I’ll go after the institutionalized racism while you’re fighting a battle that can’t be won.

  • Naturally, I agree more with UVA08. I don’t think college students are any better than locals. If anything, benefit of the doubt goes to permanent residents who care about the place, not to transients on their way to bigger things. Bigotry does not discriminate.

    A lightening rod, like Turner and others (Scottie Griffin, etc), allows people with nothing to say to participate in the public discourse. Turner provokes. Waldo et. al. counter-attacks ad hominem. The vapid attack in response to an attack often inspires others to articulate genuine insights and to propose ideas that can be acted upon.

  • “Fine, UVA08. These attackers are horrible. Why don’t you go round ‘em up and put ‘em in jail since you’re so certain they’re UVA students. Just go find the Confederate Flag bumper stickers and the reddest necks on the Lawn and fry ‘em up.”

    Me? I’ll go after the institutionalized racism while you’re fighting a battle that can’t be won.”

    Something tells me you were being sarcastic in the first paragraph. As far as the second one… You are either equating affirmative action and minority support groups to yelling nigger out a car or you are equating intitutionalized racism to minority support groups and affirmative action… In either case it just shows me how pointless it is for me to argue with someone like you b.c you are obviously so far off base. If you’d like me to be blunt I think people like you are the reason why this problem is still going on… You’d rather point the finger at a completely different issue rather than deal with the one at hand.

  • he’s not pointing the finger at a different issue. nor is he calling AA or support groups racists. he’s calling m. rick turner a racist. and based on a lot of the stuff he’s been in the news for over the last few years, i’d tend to agree.

    regardless of whether the perpetrators of the recent incidents are students or townies, the one thing that stands out is UVA’s typical, vapid response to the situation. urbanitis hit it on the head. nothing they’re going to do is going to make the situation any better. all they care about is appearances, and looking like they’re doing something. UVA08, as much as your smugness irritates the s’ out of me, you’re right. nothing is going to change unless people start taking proactive measures to stop racism. but i’m sorry…m. rick’s not the one getting it done. if anything, he makes it a lot worse.

  • Wrong, UVA08. Neither of your equations are correct. I fully support both Affirmative Action AND support groups for minorities or anyone else for that matter. I have made no personal attacks and I don’t see why you would you resort to it, unless of course your argument is taking on water. Honestly, I don’t understand your logic. Here’s how I see it breaking down:

    you: Racism is bad.

    me: Indeed. Especially institutionalized racism, i.e. having a bigot as an administrator at a major public university. It’s a problem we can do something about, because we know the identity of the person who is exercising, in a very public manner, his rascist beliefs.

    you: The real issue is getting faceless cowards to stop yelling idiotic and hateful things. Plus, BusMan, “you are obviously so far off base.” “You are the reason why this problem is still going on…You’d rather point the finger at a completely different issue rather than deal with the one at hand.”

    I thought we were talking about racism, UVA08. So….I pointed my finger at racism, in the one place I’m certain it exists. Oh, I have no doubt that there are idiots yelling stupid stuff from their cars, but I don’t know which cars they’re in. I can’t see them. They don’t get quoted in the newspaper. They aren’t role models for an entire group at UVA.

    Everyone agrees that these attackers are idiot racists, yet Dean Turner is paid to essentially yell stupid, racist stuff into a microphone. So how is this a completely different issue? The issue is STILL racism, on both counts.

    Dean Turner is a racist. I know it, you know it, and the administration knows it. Why is nothing being done about it?

  • several points listed in order:
    1.Its uncalled for to attack Dean Turner personally even if you disagree or think some of his comments are over the top.
    2.There is something to be said for the view that too much is being made of these incidents, that they are the acts of a few turkeys who enjoy the attention they are getting. Its kind of like the advice given for handling crank phone calls-hang up, don’t give them the audience they want.On the other hand, some people’s personal space was invaded-having notes scrawled on your door is more serious than graffitti in a public place.
    3.Let us not forget that UVa has a lot of racist baggage.It was nearly all white(and all male) until the 1970s. I like to think though that the student body has progressed since the time in 1965 when Joan Baez gave a concert there and was booed and had rude comments thrown at her when she talked about her participation in the Selma march. Don’t look for a newstory on this incident-it was never reported. I heard it from a former University administrator who was there at the time.Knowing him personally, and knowing of his high regard for the Honor System , I have no doubt it happened.
    4.when looked at in this context, people’s concerns make a lot more sense.How to deal with these concerns is the issue.we can start by respecting each other’s perspectives and not fling terms like “political correctness” around.

  • “1.Its uncalled for to attack Dean Turner personally even if you disagree or think some of his comments are over the top.”

    no, it isn’t uncalled for to call out a UVA administrator when he makes blatantly racist comments and people write it off as being “over the top”. it’s like busman said. it’s harder to attack cowardly, faceless racists who yell things from cars. but if you’re going to challenge people to attack racism wherever they see it…well, when i look at rick turner, i see it. so i’m going to comment on it. sorry.

  • I think UVA08 got posts confused, I think it was me, not BusMan, who equated affirmative action admissions with racism. Also, I stand by that opinion. Affirmative action categorizes and differentiates between people based on the color of their skin, without knowing the content of their character. Is there a simpler definition of racism? My point is that UVa creates an environment where race matters – students are categorized by it, and treated differently because of it. While this isn’t the only source of racial tension, it certainly does nothing to help the situation. In case no one was aware, there is a genuine resent among many european-american young people that they are left out by such programs, seemingly based on correcting wrongs committed before they were born. To me, this is a possible motive for things like hateful messages left by one student on another’s car (I’m not buying the drunken townie hypothesis either). As long as we are differentiating between people based on what shade their skin is, for any reason what-so-ever, the problem of racism will be alive and well.

  • I apologize if I got the posts mixed up. I’d like you to imagine something. You know the way you feel when dean Turner makes occasional public comments? Well what has gone on in the past three weeks would be the equivilent (for you) of have several Dean Turners saying those things on 11 different occasions in just three weeks. I hope this makes you understand why students like me are so upset and demanding change. Dean Turner may be a lightening rod in the broader community but he is an excellent person for any student to go to when we need help, and that’s probably why they keep him around despite the community’s outcry to fire him.

  • UVA08, your analogy is bad. Do you understand the difference between the perpetrators of these attacks and Dean Turner? Their situations aren’t nearly equivalent. These jerks aren’t spewing rascist venom on the University’s dime, Turner is. I have no doubt that Dean Turner is a great person for African-American students to go when needed. The problem is that he represents the entire University as an administrator. How can UVA allow a blantantly rascist person to be a Dean? I simply can’t fathom their reasoning.

    And what change are you demanding? I’m sincerely interested in what you think in this regard.

  • i too would like to know what kind of “change” you’re demanding.

  • Possible changes:
    1. Stop discriminating on the basis of race. Erase from the admissions application the section that asks your ethnicity. We don’t discriminate on the basis of religion, so we don’t ask you to disclose your religion. We don’t discriminate on the basis of creed, so we don’t ask if you’re Republican or Democrat. Think of a world where the admissions official selects a high school graduate based on merit only to find out later that he is black, or a woman, or anything other than what the administrator expected. What better argument against racism.
    2. One step to mitigate the anti-gay bias might be to let everyone designate their closest next of kin. If we want to protect gays from their families, they must be allowed to choose their immediate relative in the way that marriage allows men and women to distance themselves from their parents. This is a right everyone should have. Start with basic humane treatment to show that these people are human too.
    The Next of Kin proposal: http://www.geocities.com/healingcharlottesville/Campaign2003/3.html
    next of kin declaration

  • Rick Turner’s ill-considered comments about whites piss me off, too (as a white person). But to me, there’s a world of difference between Turner saying white folks don’t care about black people in Charlottesville, and random, unidentified people leaving hostile and/or threatening anti-black messages all over campus. The latter is far closer than terrorism than anything Turner can do.

    I see it this way: Rick Turner can irritate/enrage me as an individual, and he can embarrass me occasionally as a fellow member/representative of the university community. (And he can really piss me off when I reflect on the damage I believe he does to race relations in Cville and at UVa.) But in the end, I’m still white. What I mean by that is that I still get to enjoy all the (unearned) privileges that flow to me simply because I’m white; the likelihood that any one with any power at all is going to target me, harass me, deny me my rights simply on the basis of my skin color, is slim slim slim. Someone driving by in a pick-up truck yelling “hey whitey” at me–besides being wildly improbably–is more a joke than anything else. I may feel threatened on a near-daily basis because I’m a woman, but not because I’m white.

    But I believe that it’s different for black students at this university. I don’t know any other way to put it but like this: I teach a lot of black students at UVa, and I just by watching them I think I can guess how devastating/destabilizing/degrading the presence of these comments must feel. I can see the defensiveness in a lot of faces; their guard is up almost all the time because implicitly they are made to feel by the local as well as the more general culture that they don’t belong–that they got in to UVa because of racial preferences and they wouldn’t have otherwise. No one looks at the average random white student and automatically thinks “doesn’t belong here.” MANY look at the average random black student and think “stole someone’s spot–doesn’t belong–not smart enough–must play a sport.” Black students know this. To have racist graffiti, random comments flung from pick-up trucks, etc. just reminds them, like a slap in the face, that they are perceived to be interlopers, inferiors, etc. Anti-black racist comments carry the whole weight of American history behind them, and I believe that weight can be felt. Anti-white comments carry no such weight, in my view.

    I just don’t think we can equate Turner’s anti-white comments, which white people easily brush off as the ravings of an angry man, with the constant drumbeat of anti-black comments which must sound to a black student like “you’re not worthy, you’re not worthy, everyone thinks so, everyone thinks so.” I mean, which is worse: the negative comment that you can utterly dismiss and never for a moment believe, or the negative comment that deep down you wonder if it’s true because your entire culture has been telling you it’s true all your life?

  • Well said, Cecil!

  • Cecil,
    I halfway see your point, but I don’t think the two (Turner and people yelling from passing cars) can be so easily separated. When we allow Turner to make outrageous racist comments, we are letting him contribute to greater racial division, the kind of division that leads people to single out others based on the color of their skin and possibly shouts slurs at them. If black UVa students are experiencing racial division on grounds, it is in part because of Turner. If we can do anything to fix our racial division, we should – to me, that means canning Turner. Why do we call in the FBI to find a faceless person who painted one slur on a bridge when we know where to find the office of a man who issues similar slurs constantly?

    You also argue that racial slurs against blacks are more hurtful than racial slurs against whites. You are absolutely wrong. Racism is equally wrong, no matter who it is directed at. To take the view that racism is one thing if its against white people and another thing if against black people is exactly the problem – you’re still making huge generalizations about groups of people based on what color their skin is. I realize the history of racism, but we won’t solve it in the future by reversing the trend – we need to end it entirely.

  • “which is worse: the negative comment that you can utterly dismiss and never for a moment believe, or the negative comment that deep down you wonder if it’s true because your entire culture has been telling you it’s true all your life?”

    This isn’t about bad or worse, Cecil. This argument is about dealing with racism, no matter where you find it. Hell, I’m all for making every student register their car with UVA (or maybe the city). Then we can see what UVA students have a pick-up truck. Then, let’s bring ’em all in for questioning. Seriously. That’s the way I understand racial profiling to work in Police investigations, i.e. Seriel Rapist, so let the whites have a taste of it, too.

    I HATE racism. Get rid of it where you can find it, I say. I’m not trying to discourage anyone from trying to prevent it. It’s simply counterproductive to have someone like Dean Turner as the point man on these types of issues. You can’t fight racism with racism.

    As far as the “constant drumbeat of anti-black comments” I can’t say anything. I have no idea what that is like. It sounds horrible. But from where my ears reside, the only constant racist drumbeat is UVA endorsed white hate from the mouth of M. Rick Turner.

  • Urbanitas, you make a good point: Rick Turner’s anti-white comments and his persona are part of the problem rather than the solution. His history of inflammatory comments has directly led to a situation in which whites who might otherwise have been more open to discussing/working on racial problems in Cville and at UVa will now not lift a finger. I don’t think that’s the right reaction on the part of whites who care, but it’s undeniable that Rick’s rhetoric drives away support that might have been handy. The very fact that any posting to Cville News that has to do with racism in Cville immediately turns to a discussion of Rick’s character seems to prove that he’s an unhelpful distraction, at least for whites, from the real problem. And so yeah, he really is a problem.

    We’ll just have to disagree, though, on the second part of your post: I don’t think that an anti-white comment from a black person is at all equal to anti-black comments from whites. The only way I can express my position is to repeat what I tried to say earlier, and that is this: if someone says to me (or writes on my dorm-door whiteboard or on my car) “whitey, get out, you don’t belong,” I might be alarmed that someone is stalking me, but I’m NOT going to question my place in society, my presence at the university. The comment doesn’t ring true with anything I’ve ever been told, implicitly or explicitly, by anyone in my life. My skin color has never been associated with lower status, inferiority, etc. The content of the comment–separate from the implied threat of violence–the content of the comment means nothing to me, it’s almost ludicrous, in fact. How can my whiteness mean I don’t belong at UVa? It’s almost a non sequiter.

    But if I’m black, in ADDITION to my alarm over the fact that some unidentified, mysterious person has been watching me and knows where I park my car or where my dorm room is and might possibly be following me around, I’m also being told something that, at a certain level of my consciousness, rings true, since I’ve been told again and again that there are places I don’t belong, that I’m not good enough to enter certain hallowed halls, that if I do enter them I got in illegitimately somehow. This, to me, makes the two situations profoundly different–no one can successfully make me feel in my heart that my whiteness makes me inferior because in the US in 2005 such a statement is simply ludicrous.

    One more thing–some posters on this list seem to want to say that the fact that the perpetrators of racist verbal abuse are anonymous should make them less interesting as a threat than a Rick Turner, whom we all know and can identify. But I think the fact that the racist abuse throwers are anonymous makes them far MORE alarming. We know where RIck is–we can keep an eye on him–when we see him coming, we know what’s likely to be coming with him. With the anonymous ones, we don’t know who they are. It could be a guy sitting next to you in SOC 101. It could be an RA for your dorm. It could be ANYBODY. What’s more threatening to a student at UVa? It’s like the serial rapist–not knowing who it is makes it more scary. Rick doesn’t scare me; he can’t hurt me. If I’m a black student at UVa, I can’t say the same thing about the perps of the racist verbal abuse.

  • Well, The Washington Post seems to love Dean Turner’s “racial terrorism” comment. Today’s article attributes the phrase to “some officials.” I’ve only seen the phrase coming from one official. Anyone else seen it elsewhere? I’ll try to link to the story. The Post seems to have buried it on it’s website

  • “I’m also being told something that, at a certain level of my consciousness, rings true, since I’ve been told again and again that there are places I don’t belong, that I’m not good enough to enter certain hallowed halls, that if I do enter them I got in illegitimately somehow.”

    I gotta recommend the film “Rudy”.

    “I think the fact that the racist abuse throwers are anonymous makes them far MORE alarming. We know where RIck is–we can keep an eye on him–when we see him coming, we know what’s likely to be coming with him.”

    So we should spend more of our time going after racists we can’t find, we don’t know, and that attack randomly? How?

    And according to your argument, we should promote only racists to Deanship at UVA, that way “we can keep an eye on him.” Unbelievable.

    End racism where you can find it.

  • “So we should spend more of our time going after racists we can’t find, we don’t know, and that attack randomly? How?”

    By pressing charges, by going public. If you get gay-bashed, call the police, even if you’re straight. You don’t have to be gay to be gay-bashed. If a black person attacks you, call the police. If a white person assaults you or your property, 911. Fight back. Don’t be afraid to report a crime because people will think you’re gay. In this community, violence against gays is at least as prevalent as racial violence. The problem is not that the attackers are anonymous, but that the victims are also anonymous. And random. And you could be next.

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