The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #124679   Message #2756816
Posted By: Azizi
31-Oct-09 - 02:43 PM
Thread Name: BS: Schoolyard bullying
Subject: RE: BS: Schoolyard bullying
To expand on what I mean, let me relate a situation that occurred in the mid 1970s when I was the "minority coordinator" for a small liberal arts college in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I received a telephone call one evening that there was a "race riot" at that school. As a result of my questions, I learned that actually there were only four people involved in this "race riot" (two Black students who lived on campus, and two White students who lived on campus). I arrived at the school and went to the dean of students office where a staff member sat with those four young women. I learned that racial slurs were indeed spoken. There were of course different versions to the story (who said the racial slur first). But it was clear that at some point one of the White students called one of the Black students the "n word" and that one of the Black students called one of the White students "poor White trash". And it was clear that at some point some hitting and/or slapping occurred. It was also clear that the other two students had joined in to the argument and/or fighting in defense of their friend.

While I didn't condone the racial slurs, I wanted to find out how this incident had started. I recall that it started over what I would call some "stupid stuff" around the allegation that one woman had taken or used something that belonged to the other student. There's no doubt that racist attitudes did pop out during that heated confrontation. And yes, those racists assumptions have to be faced and resolved, but that's not going to happen in the midst of cooling down a confrontational incident.

I can't recall what the end result of that evening was. I certainly don't think those students left that meeting as friends, and they may never have spoken to each other again for all I know. Thankfully, the college staff did not call the police. Involving the police in a matter such as that would not only have been "over-kill", it might even have fueled the flames of -if not a real race riot-then certainly more animosity between the races in that college and beyond (since any college is part of a larger community).