Phi Beta Cons

Finally, an Occasion for Racial Dialogue

InsideHigherEd.com reports today on the current outrage engendered by an allegedly racially-offensive party held on the MLK holiday at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas. Tarleton State president Dennis McCabe has issued a statement containing the obligatory condemnation of the party theme and, of course, announcing a university-wide forum and town hall meeting to be held next week to facilitate “dialogue” about the incident and to begin the “healing” process.
If there’s one thing in short supply in American higher education today, it’s dialogue on race!
Photos from the party can be seen here.  Note that all of the party attendees are posing for the camera and that the pictures were initially posted on at least one Facebook profile. It’s clear that these were not photos that the students were ashamed of, at least until the party became a cause celebre.
Apparently, we have a new generation gap emerging on issues of race. Maybe this younger generation’s maxim will be: Never trust anyone over 30 – on racial matters.
Just as the parents of today’s baby boomers didn’t get what Little Richard meant when he sang “Good golly, Miss Molly, you sure like to ball,” today’s boomers don’t get that most young college students today, both white and black, think that urban culture is cool. Why else would they listen to rap and hip-hop music, wear low-rise jeans and sideways baseball caps, and give a high-five as they greet their best friend with a “Wassup, fool?”
Of course, traditional conservatives today are appalled to see upper middle class college kids appropriating urban, gangsta cultural symbols, just as conservatives in the Fifties were aghast at white rock-and-roll musicians who mimicked black rhythm and blues. But maybe most baby boomers today, whether conservative or liberal, don’t realize just how prevalent this phenomenon has become. Don’t believe me, though. Visit a few Myspace or Facebook profile pages at random.
It’s easy to see how confusing all of this must be to today’s college students, particularly white students. On the one hand, if they embrace urban, hip-hop culture, as many today do, they run the risk of being accused of racial insensitivity or racial intolerance, as these Tarleton State students discovered. On the other hand, if they don’t embrace rap or hip-hop music, they also run the risk of being called racially insensitive or intolerant. Maybe that’s what those professors mean when they claim that all whites are racist.

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