Wednesday, November 26, 2008

An Open Letter to Princeton Theological Seminary

This essay is contained in my new book. I'm delighted to announce that The Sojourner's Passport site has launched! You can visit it at http://www.sojournerspassport.com/.

Everyone, I can't thank you enough for your ongoing encouragement and support; I truly appreciate it. Your support is what made this possible. And here's a special shout-out to my web designers at Educo Web Design. They're nice people to deal with, and they do outstanding work!

Peace and blessings,
Khadija Nassif
________________________________________

Nancy Lammers Gross - Dean of Student Life
Iain R. Torrance - President

I am writing to express my outrage over the fact that Dr. Yolanda Pierce, an esteemed scholar and professor at your seminary, was attacked in a racist flier distributed by students at your campus.

It was an act in support of a vile, racist, hate campaign for these students to distribute this flier under the virtual Ku Klux Klan hood of anonymity.

It is an act of institutional racism for the Princeton Theological Seminary to continue its failure to properly address this orchestrated hate campaign against one of its own professors.

Furthermore, the Seminary's failure thus far to properly address this campaign is also an abomination. Especially for an institution that purports to prepare its students "to serve Jesus Christ in ministries marked by faith, integrity, scholarship, competence, compassion, and joy, equipping them for leadership worldwide in congregations and the larger church, in classrooms and the academy, and in the public arena." [Princeton Theological Seminary Mission Statement]

If proven, engaging in such a hate campaign is surely conduct that should provide the basis for disciplinary action such as suspension or dismissal. Reasonable minds that are untainted by racism recognize that accountability requires much more than silently accepting a few weak, insincere apologies for an outrage of this magnitude.

I am strongly urging the Seminary to follow its own procedures and hold a hearing pursuant to the process described in Section 6.6 of the academic regulations contained within The Princeton Seminary Handbook. [Academic Regulations, Section 6.6 "Procedures Associated with Other Causes," The Princeton Seminary Handbook]

The Seminary needs to follow its own regulations, hold full hearings regarding all of the students involved, and make a decision regarding these students' continued relationship to the Seminary, irrespective of their ethnic or racial backgrounds. This is only fair.

A failure to follow your own regulations would make it abundantly clear that Princeton Theological Seminary has truly lost its way. If the Seminary is unwilling to follow its own rules by conducting a full hearing, I and as many others as I can persuade to join me, will pursue every avenue available to make the public at large, the media, the Seminary's financial supporters, and the entire world aware of the Seminary's depraved indifference toward the racist denigration of Black academics. My outrage is shared by each new person who learns of the Seminary's inaction. There will be accountability.
_______________________________________
Note to Readers:

Apparently, racist students at the Princeton Theological Seminary recently distributed a flier attacking a Black professor named Dr. Yolanda Pierce. Dr. Pierce is an Associate Professor of African American Religion and Literature at Princeton Theological Seminary. This situation has been described by a Black professor at Princeton University, Dr. Melissa Harris-Lacewell in one of her blog posts. http://princetonprofs.blogspot.com/2008/11/i-am-having-drink-join-me-if-you-like.html

Rev. Lisa Vazquez, blog host of Black Women, Blow the Trumpet!, has made a call "for those who understand the power of constructive engagement to step forward" and express our displeasure with this example of yet another attack on Black women. http://blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com/2008/11/flickering-flame-of-hipster-racism-at.html

I have sent the above letter in response to this call. Silence in response to these sorts of attacks endangers us all. Allowing these sorts of attacks to pass in silence endangers those of us who work in academia. It endangers those of us who are currently students in these institutions. It endangers those Black girls who will grow up to follow our footsteps to attend or work in these institutions.

Without seeing the flier itself, my conscience won't allow me to demand a specific outcome to holding a disciplinary hearing. However, I don't have to see the flier itself, or know all of the intimate details of this situation, to insist that Princeton Theological Seminary follow its own rules and regulations. I am not saying that others are incorrect in calling for the students' suspension or dismissal without having seen the flier. I am simply stating what I feel is appropriate for me.

I know that there will be critiques of this call to respond in the absence of the flier. I know that for some of us, the urge to respond will decrease if we learn that there was a Black student involved in distributing this material. Let me point out a few "real-world" aspects to these sorts of situations.

First of all, people tend to "lawyer up" fairly quickly in these situations. Everybody knows that there is a real possibility of litigation resulting from this. At which point, people will be skittish about further disseminating this material. For any purpose. This also means that there's not going to be a lot of public discussion (if any at all) of this from those who are directly involved.

Second, it doesn't matter if it turns out that the racists were able to find a Black-woman-hating Black male student to participate in this outrage. It doesn't matter if it turns out that they were able to find a self-hating Black female student to participate. This is what sophisticated racists do --- they look for "colored" accomplices as a back-up alibi in case they get caught. They do this so they can falsely claim, "See, it wasn't racist. A Black guy helped with this." It doesn't matter. Everybody involved should be held accountable for their actions, irrespective of their ethnicity or race.

Third, I am willing to give one of my sisters who is a respected educator the benefit of the doubt. If someone of Dr. Melissa Harris-Lacewell's stature (Associate Professor of Politics and African American Studies at Princeton University) is PUBLICLY stating that a Black female colleague was personally attacked in a racist flier distributed on campus, I'm going to give Dr. Harris-Lacewell the benefit of the doubt that something that merits a response occurred.

Finally, those of us who are sincerely interested in protecting Black women from attacks will look for, and find, creative ways to respond to these situations while still honoring our own criteria for response. As I noted above, I won't demand a specific outcome without seeing the flier for myself, but I can and will demand that Princeton Theological Seminary follow its own rules, and treat this situation with the seriousness that it deserves.

Nancy Lammers Gross
Dean of Student Life
Princeton Theological Seminary
210 Templeton Hall
Princeton, NJ 08542
Email: nancy.gross@ptsem.edu
Phone: 609-497-7800

Iain R. Torrance
President
Princeton Theological Seminary
132 Administration Building
Princeton, NJ 08542
Email: president@ptsem.edu
Phone: 609-497-7800

36 comments:

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hey there Khadija!

You are really bringing it!!

Often, black professors are facing this type of conduct by students and they don't turn to the press. They aren't tenured. They grit their teeth and march on.

As I mentioned in my own comment section at my blog, this need for black women to step forward and express disapproval is part of our accountability to ELIMINATE this attack on black women.

Remember when the first hip hop videos appeared when black women were being spanked and degraded? Were our voices of disapproval loud? No.

Was our protest swift? No.

Did we issue consequences to those who were giving approval for this? No.

We complained among ourselves and that was about it.

And what happened?? The insulting images of black women became more frequent, more wide spread.

Now the situation is so out of hand that black women are saying "What can we do NOW? It's so out of hand!!"

Flavor Flav had a reality show in which black women were defacating on the floor...on camera!! The white bosses renewed his reality show.

I am not putting the blame on black women for black misogyny, but I am saying that when we fail to adopt harsh measures and when we fail to make sure that our trumpets are heard loudly and clearly, then our detachment becomes part of the problem and serves a blanket of immunity for those who are continuing this pattern.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

Khadija said...

Greetings, Lisa!

Thank you for focusing attention on this situation by posting about it. I wouldn't have know about it otherwise.

I wouldn't be surprised if Black professors facing these situations are under tremendous pressure from their employers to remain silent. Like you mentioned, they are particularly vulnerable when they do not have tenure.

And yes, we MUST respond in order to discourage & ultimately eliminate these attacks. From our experience with hip-hop, we should all know that attacks that go unopposed WILL ESCALATE.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Faith said...

I already contacted them. I was very firm in letting them know this was going to be a "Hear Me Roar" type follow up and pushback if they don't take care of this properly. There's nothing like a little public exposure to get some people to (pretend) to act right. I bet the Princeton Profs didn't know they had so much support.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

Hey Khadija,

Princeton issued a statement on their web site!
http://www.ptsem.edu/news/maliciousresponse.php

I know that this is because they are getting calls because this incident happened LAST THURSDAY and today they put a formal statement on their web site.

I keep thinking of all of the things that have happened to black women that we stayed silent about... black girls being gang raped in their neighborhoods as a rite of passage... black women never speaking out about their rapes to other black women... black women not calling the police while sexual predators are engaging in menacing behavior on the streets...

It is tiring to file reports and it is tiring to protest but we have no choice but to FIGHT or PERISH.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa

Khadija said...

Greetings, Faith!

{raised fist salute} Thank you for responding to this attack!
____________________

Hello there, Lisa!

Thanks for the info! Among other drivel, the statement says that "The president is in the process of appointing a committee to initiate a process of listening, healing and learning for the community as a whole. The committee will be comprised of administrators, students and faculty."

"...listening, healing and learning..." NO! This sounds like the 1960s trick of appointing panels to "study" racist oppression & issue reports as a stalling technique. This is a diversionary trick to avoid following the process laid out in Section 6.6-3:

"Where the Committee on Student and Academic Affairs finds that the allegations against a student would, if established, provide the basis for disciplinary action, and where the person advancing the allegations asks that charges be pressed, the Committee shall set a convenient time for a hearing thereupon.

The student against whom the charges are advanced shall be notified in writing of the nature of those charges and of the evidence upon which they are based. This notice, which also shall include indication of the time and place of the hearing, shall be postmarked, or delivered to the student's campus address, at least ten calendar days prior to the date of the hearing.

At the hearing the student shall have opportunity to speak in his or her own defense, to confront those who are presenting the charges and associated evidence, to present witnesses and evidence on his or her own behalf, and to be accompanied by an adviser of his or her own choice, selected from among the members of the Seminary community."

It looks like they plan to host an excuse rally where a few faked tearful apologies by the alleged perpetrators are described by people other than these alleged perpetrators, a few platitudes are spoken, and Black folks are patted on the head and told that everything is okay now. NO.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

To everybody: Also note how the PTS administration is turing our own (mis)leaders' terminology against us: This is why I've grown sick of the word "healing" being used in political contexts.

Peace and blessings.

ak said...

Lisa In regards to your post called Recipe For Self-Preservation, Lisa what about fatherless girls and women? And can you pick them out of a crowd?

Brother OMi said...

wow
how do these things get unnoticed?

it's scary but even in the hallowed halls of academia, racists abound.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

I hear you, Khadija!

Beyond ridiculous, the tepid response.

Even more striking, though is the arguments some of these folks make in the name of "free speech," as though free speech meant in the words of an early opinion, that free speech does not mean the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theatre.

That is what these people are doing, when they act as though they don't know the power of their words and what those words can be used to do.

Please!

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Sorry, Khadija, a typo, fixed:

Even more striking, though is the arguments some of these folks make in the name of "free speech," as though free speech never meant in the words of an early opinion, that free speech does not mean the right to yell "fire" in a crowded theatre.

Khadija said...

Greeting, Brother Omi!

These things go unnoticed because they are not looked for. There's no screening for these things because many university administrators are cut from the same racist cloth as these students. It's the same as most employment situations. People tend to hire/admit folks who are similar to them in background & views.
_____________________

Greetings, Pioneer Valley Woman!

These people know. They demonstrate that they know the difference between "free speech" & hate speech each time they suspend, expel, and deny tenure because of a student's or instructor's anti-Semitic statements.

And they're so careful about their policing to make sure the Jewish community is not offended, that they will enforce consequences for things that reflect principled dissent as opposed to hate speech. They will deny appointments and tenure even to academics who disagree with Israeli government policies!

I'm thinking of the case of history Prof. Juan Cole of the University of Michigan. He writes an excellent blog called Informed Comment. His views are generally anti-colonial; and he disagrees with various Israeli government occupation policies. This is a White man who worked as a translator & has lived and worked in the Middle East. He is the author of several books. He is a greatly respected scholar & expert in his field.

Well, some Yale faculty members nominated him to be offered a position to teach at Yale. This nomination & prelimary approval to teach at Yale was overruled because of his anti-Israeli occupation beliefs!

These university administrators know how to police whatever they WANT to police!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

We need to get the NAACP involved even though as I type this I'm rolling my eyes. I want to be positive but question how willing they'd be and what effectiveness they'll have. And yes I TOTALLY agree about the overzealousness with regards to Jewish people. It's part of the reason why other people express dissent in the first place. It's total manipulation being labeled anti-Semetic for not rubber stamping everything the gov't does in much the same way this un-American argument has been used.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Faith!

Yes, I suppose the NAACP should be contacted. {sigh}[Although I wont't call them.] I agree that all seemingly-available & available resources should be used.

Here's my concern about that:

1-Even though, yes, the NAACP should be called, it reinforces the "leave it to others" mental habit that most of us have developed.

2-I notice that Gina from the What About Our Daughters blog has been SO much more effective & efficient with her strategy of contacting the financial sponsors of various BW-degrading/demeaning tv shows, etc. Gina's strategy won't work with every problem we face, but it will work with many of these situations.

3-The "others" that we leave it to tend to be incompetent. They also tend to be part of the problem. Although I am thankful for the service that the NAACP (and more specifically the NAACP legal teams) did for our people 55 years ago, they have been of minimal value to us since then (for a variety of reasons).

I'm saying all of this to say that I believe that while some of us are contacting the NAACP, others of us should be researching to get a list of business (and other) financial supporters of Princeton Theological Seminary. One of the next steps is to contact the financial supporters of the PTS.

Peace, blessings, and solidarity.

Halima said...

Thanks Khadijah for putting the necessary framework and guidance around this incident. I sometimes fear when sending off emails/letters etc that i havent really grasped the issue indepth. i want to act on well thought out information and analysis and not simply by knee jerk.

Thanks Rev lisa also for flagging up this issue.

Khadija said...

Greetings, Halima!

You're welcome!

With my "editorial" comments about all of this, I wanted to give the general audience an example of an inside view of "lawyer think" that they can apply to situations.

My first step in evaluating any situation (or preparing a cross-examination of a witness) is to compare what the person did/is doing to what they're supposed to be doing.

Almost every institution and profession has rules, regulations, and codes of conduct that are supposed to govern people's conduct in various situations. Universities, government offices, etc. typically have their own internal rules & regulations. Each profession has its own ethical code of conduct that is established by leading organizations within that profession (ABA, AMA, etc.).

So, with a university situation, my first step is to look at the Student Handbook to see what sorts of things are (or should) be covered by disciplinary rules. The next step is to look at the disciplinary rules themselves. This gives an objective guide for evaluating a university's response to an outrage.

If the university or other institution is following their own regulations and procedures, so far so good. If they are deviating from their own rules & procedures, it's a sure sign that they're doing something inappropriate!

Comparing their actions to their own rules and codes of conduct also prevents activists from being confused by defensive, bad-faith whining from racists about how "we sponsored a 'healing' & 'learning' festival. What else do you people want from us?!!"

I don't want some fake "healing & learning" festival. As a first step, I want PTS to follow its own rules & regulations!

As a side note, I find it disturbing that PTS regulations have a separate section dealing with how allegations of sexual harassment will be handled, meanwhile everything else (which would include hate crimes) is covered by the catch-all section of the rules.

[You see, it's intolerable for "Becky" to be sexually harassed while she's getting her divinity degree. And it IS intolerable for anybody to be sexually harassed! The prospect of "Becky" getting harassed is important enough to merit a whole section of its own. But hate crimes . . . well, that can go in the catch-all provisions. Hmmph!]

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

@ Halima

I agree with you that we should not make emotional responses. Calling up a university official and "going off" with angry emotion is ignorant and ineffective. I would delete the message without even listening to it. The tone we use should always be constructive, firm and emotionally-disciplined.

No one takes women seriously who act hysterical and who fly off the handle.

Khadija made such an excellent point about the credibility of the first hand witness account.

We will not always HAVE every detail and EVERY piece of evidence so we have to be able to assess the credibility of the first hand witness account.

@ Khadija

I absolutely agree with your assertion that we should not expect these groups to fight for us. We have to fight for ourselves and outline a strategy ourselves. We have learned many times already that many black women's organizations WERE NOT the loud voices of protest when the Juneteenth Dunbar Village gang rape occurred...and MORE gang rapes occurred there after that one.

We can not assume that just reporting these incidents to black women's organizations WILL result in action.

We have to become the agents of change.

I will contact N.A.A.C.P., but engaging these organizations is just one manuever.

As you know, I have been playing chess since I was in elementary school. In the game of chess, the movement of JUST one piece will not win the chess match. A series of proactive manuevers wins the chess match. Reactive chess players are the most often defeated. In the game of chess, when you decide upon ONE move, it is understood that your move is a part of a SERIES of future moves that will be executed. One chess match is not won with one move.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Lisa!

You are absolutely correct about emotional discipline. That's why I write letters instead of calling! LOL!

I know myself. I know that I am DEEPLY irritated by these types of campus situations. In these situations, I know that if I get on the phone & somebody says the wrong thing to me, there's a good chance that my verbal response won't be productive. *Smile*

And yes, we have to become our own advocates when it comes to our collective interests. And learn to execute a SERIES of strategic moves.

Lord knows that dealing with this type of thing is tiresome. I feel like I've been writing letters, protesting, etc. for the past 25 years. Frankly, I'm sick of it. But the choice is clear: We resist OR we perish!

I'm amazed at how far BW's collective quality of life has dropped just since I was in high school. My silence at the beginning of hip-hop, along with other decent people's silence, helped enable the hellish conditions that we see today. I won't make that mistake again. No matter how bored or tired I am of resisting.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Halima said...

With my "editorial" comments about all of this, I wanted to give the general audience an example of an inside view of "lawyer think" that they can apply to situations.

Khadija

this is so vital and the methodology you applied here is essentailly the template black women will need to use to confront these issues. I want the folks we are up against to know that we know the rules and the law and they cannot in anyway hoodwink us in any such matters. once they know that bw have this structured and well versed understanding of their rights, folks will become wary of taking us on.

i think there are some clear issues, that we can all just fire off an email to express our outrage etc. Low level activities of BET and the use of incident images of bw etc are straight forward, but the sophisticated and instituitional racio-misogynists need to know that we are structured, and abreast of the statuets and provisions of law, but we are also building up a knowlege base which will in the future lead to more regulations against their activities.

I wish we could organise ourselves in order to have some lawyers and academics on a retainer, who could do this kind of critical and analytical work for bw on such issues.

[You see, it's intolerable for "Becky" to be sexually harassed while she's getting her divinity degree. And it IS intolerable for anybody to be sexually harassed! The prospect of "Becky" getting harassed is important enough to merit a whole section of its own. But hate crimes . . . well, that can go in the catch-all provisions. Hmmph!]

Yep Khadija i know this one. over here the penalty for gender discrimination is open ended but is capped for race discrimination, in other words offences against white women is more weightier than offences against race.

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Greetings, Khadija!

I'm back, putting on my academic hat.

Institutions like Princeton are non-profit organizations. They depend primarily on alumni to sponsor them, and Princeton, one of the Ivy Leagues, has a huge endowment, I'm sure.

The schools I once attended always send me alumni bulletins. One just sent me a book of about 100 pages, a "thank you" to all the donors who gave money the past year, listing who gave by what category, the amount of money.

Being creative here, I was able to get to PTS's alumni website, and there is a whole lot of information on the sidebar, explaining who their alumni council members are and so forth. The alumni council members are traditionally highly active alums who do alot for the school. They act as liasion to the outside world and act as liasion among the alumni in supporting the school.

You can see how this can work; these are the people to contact...

Here is the link:

https://our.ptsem.edu/ics/Alumni/church_and_donor_relations_manager.jnz

Khadija said...

Hello there, Halima!

A while ago, I believe somebody over at Evia's blog mentioned the idea of having an anti-defamation league for Black women. This would be a very good thing.

In the meantime, we all need to do what we can to protect & further our collective interests.

Yep. "Brad" has prioritized "Becky's" comfort by enforcing unlimited sanctions on those who disturb her groove. And it's appropriate for "Brad" to do this. That's what men who are protectors & providers for "their" women do! Instead of passively sitting back and watching "Becky" get degraded, beaten, raped and killed.
_______________________

Hello there, Pioneer Valley Woman!

Thanks for the info! Now that's what I'm talking about! Pioneer Valley Woman, thank you for being part of the research team! LOL! I'm sure that many of these alumni donors are prominent heavyweights in their fields.

Heavyweights who probably would NOT like to receive letters of complaint about any continued financial support of PTS at their place of business.
Hmmm. This might be one of the next steps.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Miriam said...

Please forgive me, but I don't understand the persistence of keeping the NAACP relevant. Especially in light of all that I've read and learned in the past few months on various blogs.

Khadija said...

Greetings, Miriam!

From my perspective (which is just one of many views), it's not about keeping the NAACP "relevant." It's about using any & all tools at hand to safeguard our collective interests.

Also, for me, this isn't about any particular individual. It's about demanding that any & all Black women in these institutions (be they students or professors) receive the benefit of equal enforcement & protection of the laws/regulations.

There is a US-wide pattern & practice of these sorts of racist fliers being distributed on the campuses of White universities. There is a pattern & practice of college administrators refusing to hold anyone accountable for this behavior. Meanwhile, anyone who engages in anti-Semitic hate speech is swiftly punished (as they should be).

This was going on when I was in college. I see that it is still happening 20+ years later. Like I said, for me this isn't about any individual. It's about slowing the pace, and ultimately eliminating this pattern & practice.

Access to higher education is the gateway to a better life for GENERATIONS of a family. Anything that obstructs BW's access to, and presence within, higher education must be fought. This includes racist campus hate campaigns and the adminstrators who would turn a blind eye to these activities.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

@ PVW

Thank you so much, Reverend, for sharing this information.

What are the steps that you have found were most effective whenever YOU personally have faced racism in the Academy? (I am assuming that you have faced it more than once.)

Do you feel that black scholars who do not have tenure are leery of drawing any negative attention to their employers - even when it is for a larger cause?

@ Miriam

Black women need to stop dismissing those who CLAIM to represent us and do not do so effectively and begin to START making those organizations accountable. Like it or not, the white media pays attention to N.A.A.C.P. and N.U.L. and N.A.N. and if those organizations call a press conference, the white media will show up and report what they are saying. White people THINK these organizations (and their leaders) represent the voice of blacks...and they THINK these organizations speak for us...whether we like that perception OR NOT...it exists.

We have some options then...
1. We can overthrow these organizations so that they are forced to close their doors from our pressure tactics.
2. We can force accountability with these organizations who claim to represent us.
3. We can attempt to thwart all of the corporate funding that these organizations receive from white corporations. (Keep in mind that these organizations have extensively long history histories with some of their white benefactors.)

Now, which of those three options would be most feasible?

PioneerValleyWoman said...

Rev. Lisa:

What are the steps that you have found were most effective whenever YOU personally have faced racism in the Academy? (I am assuming that you have faced it more than once.)

Do you feel that black scholars who do not have tenure are leery of drawing any negative attention to their employers - even when it is for a larger cause?


My reply:

My observations of effective strategies.

Neutralize it, by finding allies among the higher levels of faculty and administrators. There can be faculty who are sensitive to these things, and they are not always black women! Progressive white male and female colleagues, other colleagues of color, can be useful here.

Neutralize it, by finding allies outside of the institution who could lend support, especially if one decides upon pursuing strategies that might lead to confrontation within the institution, but there is less support within it.

Untentured faculty can be leery, but it depends on the environment. If one's (tenured) colleagues and administrators are supportive, it can go a long way towards helping, whether it is dealing with crazy students, other faculty, etc. The ones who are most likely to leave are those who are getting no support from within their departments, the first group of colleagues, up the chain, to the rest.

So with this case, I would wonder, does she have colleagues within the faculty at PTS who support her? What of the PTS administration? What of Princeton as a whole? Other departments, and the university administration, the president, etc.? The alumni?

Nu Girl said...

Hello Khadija,

I have e-mailed a letter to both the Dean and President. I also forwarded a copy of my letter to the Cultural Affairs Department.

I took the liberty of reading going to the schools site and reading their mission as well as other information about the school. Of course they made no mention of the incident.

Nu Girl

Khadija said...

Greetings, Nu Girl!

Thank you for standing for justice! {raised fist salute} It matters. A lot.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

Dear Visitors from Princeton Theological Seminary:

Please be aware that efforts in the pursuit of justice are happening off-blog. I deliberately don't mention certain things on-blog because I don't think that would be prudent.

Rest assured that there will be accountability in this matter.

With justice in mind,
Khadija

Benjamin Thomas said...

I'm a little late on the scene, and perhaps this post will be a useless cause at this point. In any case, I wanted all of you to know that one of the student-authors of this "racist" publication is himself an African-American and good friend of mine.

I assume most of you have never seen the document in question. Moreover, at this point, you're probably in such a rage as to little care for the facts of the case.

Now, because of these kind of knee-jerk responses, a sharp, talented, yes - imprudent, but valuable part of the Princeton Seminary community is being suspended. That is, one of the brightest African-American students on campus is now gone. So much for diversity. And so much for your righteous cause.

Khadija said...

*Special Alert:Teachable Moment*

To All:

I see that one of the racist PTS students and/or accomplices has finally showed their face here. I've been waiting for this.

DO NOT RESPOND TO THIS UNREPENTANT RACIST.

Instead, continue to contact the Princetion Theological Seminary and let your voices be heard in support of justice!


Analysis to follow in my next comment...

Peace and blessings,
Khadija

Khadija said...

*Special Alert: Teachable Moment, Cont'd.*

I'm working on a post about the mechanics & strategies of activism, but so-called Mr. "Benjamin Thomas" has provided a wonderful illustration of several important points that we can discuss right now.

Point #1: Don't waste your time debating with unrepentant racists. Instead of trying to verbally teach them anything, it's better to work to create consequences for them. I've observed that enforced accountability & consequences are the best teachers for such individuals.

Why do I say that this individual is unrepentant? Well, here's part of the statement issued by PTS on 11/26/08:

"Seminary Response to Malicious and Racist Newsletter.

On Thursday, November 20, 2008, a satirical newsletter entitled 'The Foreskin' was distributed on the campus of Princeton Theological Seminary. This document contained material which was racist, deeply insulting, harmful to the community as a whole, and targeted a number of individual members of the community.

The president immediately issued a statement expressing his disgust and his sorrow at the hurt done to the entire community. He invited those who produced 'The Foreskin' to identify themselves and to see him the next morning."


The administration of PTS has described this newsletter as "malicious and racist" and he's still in (arrogant) denial about the racist nature of that document.

In a way, "Benjamin Thomas'" open hostility and lack of remorse is a good thing. It makes him easier to identify as (at minimum) an enabler of this hate campaign, if not an actual perpetrator. Which leads to point #2:

Point #2: Don't waste your time communicating with those who only FEIGN support for justice. They are probably running a diversionary scam to get you to stop seeking justice. I've noticed a pattern of persons claiming to be "concerned" and "hurting" PTS students writing in to the Black blogs that are calling for justice.

However, instead of supporting accountability & justice, these individuals seek to engage in time-wasting dialogues about how "hurt" they are. The purpose seems to be an attempt to distract & divert activists from seeking justice. They do this by falsely claiming to be sympathetic.

If these people were really sincere, they would write in to report on what ACTIONS they have taken in support of justice! NOT to talk about how they are seeking "community" and "healing." In this context, "healing" comes from justice. And "community" comes from shared struggle.

Don't be naive! Don't be lulled into inactivity because of some sympathetic-sounding sweet talk. ACTIONS speak louder than words. And, given the circumstances, it's best to insist upon verifiable actions before entertaining (much less believing) anyone's claim of shared concern.

Point #3: Keep in mind that those who commit hate crimes will say & do ANYTHING to avoid accountability. Including lying to you.

Some of them will try to trick you into stopping your campaign for justice by pretending to be repentant.

Some of them will try to trick you into stopping your campaign for justice by straight-up lying. For example, they might lie & claim that the matter has been resolved. Such as claiming that the students involved in the hate campaign have been disciplined when this is not true.

Mr. "Benjamin Thomas" claims that one of the perpetrators has been suspended. Well, we don't know if this is true. Unlike the PUBLIC eyewitness statement/accounts from the Princeton professor and the PTS administration, Mr. "Benjamin Thomas" has not provided a link to a PUBLIC statement from the administration confirming that any of the perpetrators have been disciplined.

Unlike the Princeton professor who gave her eyewitness statements in PUBLIC and with her REAL NAME, and unlike the PTS PUBLIC statement describing the newsletter as "malicious and racist," here we have claims from somebody using a brand new Blogger profile. [Which s/he probably created just for this purpose.]

The odds are that this is probably a lie designed to trick you into stopping your work for justice. A trick to convince you that there's no further need for you to voice your concerns to the PTS administration.

DON'T FALL FOR IT! Keep the pressure on. Let PTS continue to hear your voices!

Point #4: Racists will often use Black/person of color accomplices as human shields. ALL must be held accountable. This is only fair.
Mr. "Benjamin Thomas" insults us by presuming that we discriminate in terms of wanting justice to be served. He assumes that we are biased. Just like him.

What he doesn't understand is that we support principles, NOT individuals. It doesn't matter if one of the wrongdoers is African-American. ALL should be held accountable. This is equal justice. For ALL. Which is as it should be.

Peace and blessings,
Khadija

Sister Seeking said...

Khadija,

My Dh and I sent in a phone call but recieved a VM services so today we finally just left a message. If something else we can do you know my phone number.

Salaam
P/B

Khadija said...

Greetings, Sister Seeking/Miriam!

{raised fist salute} Thank you & your husband for standing for justice!

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

ActsofFaithBlog said...

Hello All: So the latest fumbling into denial action by PTSEM is the formation of an action committee as per their site:

www.ptsem.edu/news/diversityinitiativesapc.php

Princeton Seminary Diversity Initiatives Moving Forward with an Action Plan Committee

In the church as well as in the academy there is a growing awareness that human diversity is an educational opportunity and asset. No one is defined by or lives in the world in a single identity category, but rather in multiple roles: through racial identities and gender identities; through religious affiliations and ethnic legacies; through socioeconomic attributes and sexual orientations.

In order to foster deeper learning, cultivate greater understanding within a diverse Seminary community, and embrace the realities of our context, President Torrance has created an Action Plan Committee (APC). This committee is composed of a diverse cross-section of faculty, students, and administrators.

The APC is charged with the following tasks:

• Implementing short-term strategies for constructive dialogue regarding a recent student publication;

• Exploring and recommending processes that will allow us to move forward beyond this event;

• Working with the Office of Multicultural Relations in conjunction with initiatives that are already in process;

• Assisting the community to work toward an institutional environment that goes beyond managing diversity to one that values and capitalizes on diversity in all areas.

For more information or to send comments, email ActionPlanCommittee@ptsem.edu.

***************************

Is it me or does this seems like more dragging of the heels by some of the Admins who think they can bury this in a committee with the intent of doing nothing but letting the perps get away with their acts of hate?

I also started a Facebook group on Anti-Racism Activism against the attack on Dr. Pierce (and others) for any of you who use it. It's a closed group by invitation but you can DM me to add you. We can exchange info privately.

Finally the PTSEM has a list of alumnae by region. I'm assuming the information listed is current. You can email each person individually.

Everyday they delay in laying the smack down (that's what I want) is just making me more determined to continue my efforts. They must learn under threat of pain and dismissal to not do this again.

Khadija said...

Hello there, Faith!

I've already described some of the tricks used by individual bigots to avoid accountability. There are also tricks that White institutions traditionally use to avoid accountability in terms of hate crimes.

Yep. What you've mentioned is from the 1960s playbook of institutional anti-accountability tricks pertaining to "race relations":

Institutional Bad-Faith Trick #1: Appoint a committee to "study" injustice instead of remedying it.

Institutional Bad-Faith Trick #2: Say and do anything to delay/avoid issuing consequences to those who commit hate crimes.

To Everyone: Don't fall for it. Keep the pressure on!

Another thing that is annoying me about this situation is that too many of the blog discussions that I've seen the racist trolls monitor/invade tend to be SO RETROGRADE. I swear, these interactions sound like discussions between our people & insincere, conniving, & patronizing "White people of good faith" from the 1950s and early 1960s.

Some of us sound like we're flattered to have sympathetic-sounding White PTS individuals deigning to pretend to "dialogue" with us. I can see that others of us are clearly unaware of, & confused about, the strategies that racists traditionally use to avoid accountability in these situations.

None of these tricks are new. Information about them is available to all who take the time to study what happened with our predecessors in any detail. We SHOULD NOT be deceived by anti-activism tricks that are 50 & 60 years old!

We really need to have a "table talk" among ourselves as activists. I'm working on a series of posts about this.

I'm delighted to hear that you're determined to continue your efforts. YES! YES! YES! {raised fist salute}

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

Khadija said...

*To All Blog Activists*

In light of the Black blog-stalking that the PTS perps and/or their supporters are STILL doing, consider the following logical, yet simple, questions:

If the perps have been punished (as some of the perp/perp-supporters CLAIM), and the matter is closed, then why are these individuals STILL stalking the Black blogs that are discussing this matter?

Why are they SO intent on silencing outcry, if the matter is truly closed? If I was a perp or perp-supporter, I would be finished with the matter at that point. I would not spend any further energy on it.

Some of these perps and/or perp-supporters are visiting activist Black blogs up to 25+ times a day to monitor the on-blog discussions about this.

Ask yourself what interest could they possibly have in doing this if the matter is resolved? Ask yourself what possible interest could they have in silencing outcry if the matter is closed?

Consider the following:

Let's assume for the sake of argument (and ONLY for the sake of argument) that some of the perps have actually been punished.

First, we don't know that. PTS wouldn't have to list the students by name to issue a statement that disciplinary action has been taken as a result of this hate crime. PTS has not issued any such statement. So, there is NO confirmation that any disciplinary action has been taken in this matter.

Second, be aware that even if some of the perps were disciplined, they and their supporters are probably working feverishly to have any disciplinary action OVERTURNED! Silencing the outcry would help the perps & their supporters accomplish this goal.

Don't be naive. Don't be fooled. KEEP THE PRESSURE ON!


These are more tricks from the 1960s. Sometimes police departments would put a racist, brutal cop on desk duty in response to community pressure. The cop was on desk duty ONLY while the "heat" from the community was still on. Then, after the "heat" died down, the department would quietly put that cop back out on active duty as if nothing had ever happened. Meanwhile, the community was deceived into mistakenly believing that the brutal cop had really been punished.

Like I said earlier, these are very old anti-justice tricks.

Peace, blessings and solidarity.

blackwomenblowthetrumpet.blogspot.com said...

**WARNING TO THE GULLIBLE**

Do not click into the profiles of the trolls!

They were previously posting with blocked profiles.

They were posting as "anonymous" persons.

Now, they are creating fake profiles with empty blog pages so that you will click into the page and they can see WHERE you are located and which IP you are using.

There is no need to click into their profiles.

We don't NEED to waste our time finding their blogs online! It is pointless.

Remember....we have NO interest in dialogue with the students.

This online initiative IS NOT a town meeting with racists or those pretending NOT to be racists.

Our MAIN focus is on putting firm pressure on the administration!

We need to get those persons in our email distribution lists to make phone calls to PTSEM and to continue to get N.A.A.C.P. to classify the public ridicule and disparagement of black faculty as a hate crime.

It doesn't matter if they were insulting other non-black people at the same time. If a white mob rapes a white person at THE SAME time they are lynching a black person, does THAT mean that the lynching is not racist?

This is what some of these trolls attempt to argue.

If a white lynch mob has a black person holding the rope, does it mean the lynching is not racist?

This is what some of these trolls attempt to argue.

And...why we will maintain the focus of this protest on the administration.

I urge all those who have written posts on this incide to delete ALL comments at your blogs that were submitted by those who THINK your blog is their platform.

Insert a teaching moment in your comment section in place of their comments. Khadija has shown how effective this approach is.

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!
Lisa