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PC Culture

New School Prof Cleared in Racial-Slur Case

In response to White Professor Under Fire for Quoting James Baldwin’s Use of Racial Slur

The same day The Guardian published a story on the travails of the white New School professor Laurie Sheck, who was under investigation for using the n-word in quotation of James Baldwin, and after the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) got involved on the professor’s behalf, it has emerged that the New School has dropped the case and properly exonerated Sheck in a letter dated August 14. The New School’s letter to Sheck is here. “We have determined that you did not violate the University’s policy on discrimination,” it reads. (There is no apology.) The New School convened a meeting with Sheck way back on June 27.

“If I have a hope for what can come out of this, it is for a university community that seeks to open itself in the deepest and most informed of ways to the exchange and contemplation of ideas about which there is genuine urgency and concern but not consensus,” said Sheck in a FIRE press release. “It is crucial that the right to do this be protected.”

Sheck quoted Baldwin’s use of the n-word in a course on “radical questioning” in writing. She noted that the celebrated 2016 documentary about Baldwin misquoted him by using the title I Am Not Your Negro — he used the slur, not the word “Negro” — and “asked her students what this change may reveal about Americans’ ability to reckon with what Baldwin identified as ‘the darker forces of history,'” FIRE reported. Two students complained; at least one, according to the professor, was a white person who said Sheck, as a white person, was not allowed to speak the word out loud.

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