When Rights Liberalism Backfires

Or, the Daily goes where many wealthy white “liberals” have gone before … and violating their informal rule of “No Daily in the Daily” in the process. I guess she never got the memo about how many different ways there are for majority communities to support and respect minority communities. This issue, like so many related to race, is certainly a sticky situation, but naively asserting we should all buy into some notion of colorblind conservatism isn’t just offensive, it’s banal.

It’s also a shame only some people can break Daily rules, since I thought David Enders’ censored column about the boycott was much better. (“I agreed with a number of the assessments [the boycotters] had made: there were problems with the paper’s content and coverage that required redress.”) I guess nobody there is too concerned with an equal application of their policies.

‘Members-only’ diversity
By Johanna Hanink: Parlance of our Times
September 22, 2003

In the early weeks of last year’s boycott against The Michigan Daily, the organizers of the boycott logically held many meetings with interested members of the University community to discuss the issues surrounding the boycott. However, one of these meetings, scheduled to take place in a University residence hall, was designated as a “minorities only” meeting; in other words, whites were not welcome.

I’m not sure how the meeting worked – I have a friend who looks “white” enough, but her grandmother is Lebanese. Would she have been allowed into the meeting? I know another person – again, unequivocally “white”-looking, but he had enough American Indian in his blood to claim minority status on graduate school applications – although only at some schools, not all. Would he have been turned away at the door? Would the organizers have demanded a certificate of tribal affiliation?

When I first read the e-mail announcing the meeting, it evinced a visceral reaction in me – how, on University property, could a meeting take place at which the organizers could say, in no subtle words, “no whites allowed?” Is this what multiculturalism means at this University? Even though I was in a position of leadership at the Daily during the boycott – and thus was supposed to keep my mouth shut – I was outraged enough to write to the hall director (twice) of the residence hall which allowed (in that it did not prohibit) that meeting to proceed. I received no response.

So what were the leaders of these communities so afraid of? Would white people necessarily have caused problems, and would the students of color all necessarily have agreed with – and kept secret from the Daily staff – everything that went on? (They certainly did not.) Was this compatible with University philosophy and policy, and if not, why was it OK?

The rest

Author: Rob