April 16, 2004

NAACP Holds Meeting

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122 Rockefeller was packed to the brim with students and two faculty members who gathered for an emergency meeting of Cornell’s chapter of the NAACP at 5 p.m. yesterday. The meeting was held in response to two recent articles — one regarding an incident which occurred after last semester’s Ludacris concert appearing in the Cornell Review, and the other regarding affirmative action in the Cornell American.

During the meeting, participants planned a rally to take place today at 11:30 on Ho Plaza in reaction to the recent publications. In addition, a petition was passed around requesting that both newspapers be denied funding from the Student Assembly Finance Commission.

The meeting began with a presentation by Nathan Shinagawa ’05, in which he discussed the articles. “[The Cornell Review] are trying to say that blacks are going to act violently against whites,” said Shinagawa. He went on to discuss the manner in which the fight between the four black Ithaca residents and the white student was portrayed by the Review. The article accused the Cornell community of ignoring racism against white students.

Shinagawa moved on to discuss the affirmative action piece by the Cornell American. The cover of the American contained a large photograph of African-American students in academic robes with the word “unqualified!” above it.

“These conservative arguments will be perpetuated,” said Shinagawa. He also expressed concern that the picture with the label promoted stereotypes of African Americans as unqualified because of affirmative action.

“I wouldn’t want my picture under that label,” said Jason Morgan ’06, publicity chair of Cornell’s NAACP.

“There is a thin line between freedom of speech and being responsible. When you are stereotyping and putting people into groups that is a problem,” said Sarah Elliot ’06, president of the Cornell chapter of the NAACP.

Shinagawa then passed out posters to the audience, which parodied the headline in the Cornell American. He instructed the audience to place them next to the locations where the American is distributed.

After initial discussion by the group leaders, the floor opened up to the general audience. The multi-racial group of about 80 people discussed various related topics. There was a debate about the merits of the Cornell Review’s stance on the incident at the concert.

Making reference to an incident at Ithaca High School where students brought white supremacist paraphernalia to school, Elliot compared that situation with the incident at the Ludacris concert.

“When someone comes to a school with a KKK robe, that is clearly racial, however the fight in the Ludacris concert was a different incident,” she said.

Cherise Glymph disagreed.

“I think its problematic to deny that it was not a racial incident, but obviously there were racial implications.” She referred to the allegation that one of the black females said “I’m going to fuck up your pretty white face.”

Discussion then moved to plans of response, when the idea of a Ho Plaza rally was proposed. Some group members, however, were hesitant to take such a move.

“It’s so easy to react on emotion, they want us to fall into the stereotype about being angry. We need to react coolly,” said Elliot. Other members disagreed.

“They’re affirming their belief in racism, we should affirm our belief as well, not negate theirs,” said Patrick McLeod ’05.

“This is a larger thing they are doing, this is a coordinated assault on the civil rights movement and minorities,” said Shinagawa, referring to the fact that both papers came out around the time of diversity hosting week, when prospective minority students visit campus.

On the same topic, Raymond Dalton, director of the Office of Minority and Educational Affairs/Committee on Special Education Projects, told the group that he has witnessed these kinds of events before.

“You really need to let your hosting students know about the environment they are coming to,” he said.

In the audience, one prospective student told the group that she was impressed by their response to the incident. Others viewed her statement as further rationale for holding the rally.

The group leaders ended the meeting around 6 p.m. with some members staying behind to discuss further plans of action.

“This is not a white-black issue, this is a right-wrong issue,” Elliot said.

Archived article by Teah Colson and Ted Van Loan
Sun Staff Writers