Genuinely curious--what should "a diverse curriculum" include?
What are trying to get at here Ansel? That the humanities professor just had a book by a very well known black activist on his bookshelf just so he could use it a racist cudgel? What's the end game?

And I get the distinct feeling neither you nor this student knew who Gregory is. He is an outspoken civil rights activist. Not just a comedian. reducing him to that feels like a not so subtle way to minimize an amazing pioneer.
Sounds like this anonymous student could take a leaf out of Mr. Gregory's book. It is an act of strength and liberation to laugh in the face of prejudice, to turn the hateful words on their heads and refuse to be terrorized by them.
It's understandable for ugly slurs to have a visceral impact on the hearer. But it is incumbent on COLLEGE STUDENTS to be able to withstand that clench of terror, to face it head-on. I quote the book in question:
You didn't die a slave for nothing, Momma. You brought us up. You and all those Negro mothers who gave their kids the strength to go on, to take that thimble to the well while the whites were taking buckets. Those of us who weren't destroyed got stronger, got calluses on our souls. And now we're ready to change a system, a system where a white man can destroy a black man with a single word. Nigger.
Are these students so eager to be destroyed, to remain in their comfortable little house arrest of self-reinforced victimhood? Or are they willing to fight, to prove that they are not so fragile as to be broken down by the mere MENTION (let alone USE) of a hateful word?
sounds like a great book, some great reviews over at

Seems like a matter of context, ignorance, and/or misunderstanding... asking for resignation because of a reading suggestion (viz. a great book about civil rights) doesn't add up.
@1-5, no matter how you slice it the professor took on shades of Trump with her response. The student was not asking for a book, she was asking for more non-euro centric literature to be included in the curriculum. To respond by flippantly handing her a book called "Nigger" is thumbing her nose at the student with the thinnest veneer of "it's not racist because." Even giving the professor the benefit of the doubt, represents an unacceptable level of callousness and insensitivity given her position at the college.
I love how Ansel thinks if he can just get her to admit to saying the word out loud, he can get some kind of "checkmate" with this story.
What's the "N" word, Stranger?
I don't get it. Shouldn't they be asking Dick Gregory to resign?
I envy people who get offended at the mere usage of words like retard, nigger, and faggot, because obviously all other problems in their life are solved.
Yes, he should resign. That student was complaining about a non inclusive curriculum and he basically insulted her in the worst way possible. I must admit sometimes one has to have a thick skin about how people treat and think about you. Not this time. What was glaring is this is a Humanities dean. These folks tend to practice inclusivity.
Er, she should resign I mean
Perhaps the curriculum also could use some clarification on the use/mention distinction.
@7 and people like him/her.

Can people really be this god damned ignorant of Dick Gregory and that book? Get your ass out and read that book. And then you'll understand why somebody might recommend it in this context.

Do you understand what Gregory went through and why he wrote that book? And why, he quite deliberately titled that book the way he did?

God. The irony.

You understand that book was banned from libraries and book stores BECAUSE of it's title?!? Which was Gregory's entire point about the minimizing and erasing black people.

Besides. What on earth would an unrepentant racist be doing with a book by Gregory in first place?

Just so they could be sitting in ambush just waiting for some coy way to say the "n*gger" to a black person? Is this what you think?- A stealth racist humanities prof just waiting to spring his trap!

Jesus. I weep for the so-called progressive youth of the future.
Whenever you begin to think how out of touch these coddled Seattle libs are that they have nothing better to do than get outraged over whether someone did or didn't say a word, remember how many times red blooded middle America has lost its shit because Obama didn't call some incident "terrorism" fast enough. Or some paragon of common sense mansplained to that you can't call a "suppressor" a silencer or a magazine a clip. Because you'll hurt their gun's feelings? Fuck if I know. At least these students are talking about the feelings of an actual person.
Kelly's referral to the Gregory book and the alleged 3-4 times use of the N-word has the faint whift of Dog Whistle. Kelly's evasive behavior with Ansel regarding the use of the word with the student is somewhat suspicious as well. The Dean could have been a bit more open with Ansel as to why she used the word multiple times if she didn't mean to insult or degrade the student.

If bigotry, belittlement, and degradation wasn't her aim in that discussion with the student, she should have another talk with her or a larger discussion with the Black Student Union to clear the air and take the heat off Sundborg.
She said it. I said it.
I said it again!
#18 wins.
I am quite surprised about the ridiculous reactions of otherwise reasonable commenters here, for instance, venomlash.

So you mean to tell me that the dean couldn't have suggested say James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, WEB Dubois, Langston Hughes, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, Octavia Butler, Bell Hooks, August Wilson, or Walter Mosley?
Are you fucking kidding? Do you really think that it is not, at least, colossally stupid to give Dick Gregory's book to a student complaining about lack of diversity in the syllabus?

Granted, this is the interwebs and ignoramuses are free to bloviate about things they know nothing about. But how discouraging that when it comes to discussions about race, this board becomes a hopeless circle jerk of cluelessness.
The most spectacular. And I mean the MOST spectacular thing about Herz continued journalistic exploits is how he, and his ilk, have catalyzed the end of the Left.

College campuses, once bastions of independent thought and free speech, are becoming barren wastelands for intellect. Toe the party line. Repeat the mantra. Comply with the narrative. Just read the fucking script kid.

And the Left, once proclaimed as a place for critical discourse and higher-ideals, marches through town screaming nonsense, throwing temper-tantrums and shouting even its adherents out. So much easier to ignore and dismiss now.

Despite the lunacy of the Trump clown show will pass, it appears the left has institutionalized its own self-destruction.

Enjoy your juvenile outrage for a while Lefties. You actually kinda' deserve what's coming next.
@20 Kelly's referral to the Gregory book and the alleged 3-4 times use of the N-word has the faint whift of Dog Whistle.

A "dog whistle" in politics is a message to a specific group that only that group will understand, and the larger audience won't notice--because it would be unpopular for the dog whistler to be seen advocating that position with the larger public. For example, when George Bush said he'd appoint judges who 'disagree with the Dred Scott' decision, the mainstream media mostly took it as a kind of dumb, obvious thing to say, not realizing his intent was to send a signal of solidarity to radical anti-choice groups, who see the denial of fetal personhood as analogous to Dred Scott's denial of slave personhood.

I don't understand how Kelly's discussion with a student could possibly be a "dog whistle" on the conventional understanding. There would have to have been an audience for her to be dog whistling to--someone who wanted to see the Dean say racist things. Who would that audience be? Why would the Dean expect a discussion with a student to be heard by that audience? It doesn't make any sense.

If your claim is that she gets some sort of perverse racist thrill out of saying the N-word to a black student and keeps Dick Gregory's book on her shelf for that purpose, might I ask what facts of theories confirm or support that interpretation?
If American colleges are wastelands of the intellect, how come everything is invented and designed here and made somewhere else? How come the owners of all those factories that make all our stuff want to send their kids to our colleges?

American higher education flat out rules. Bitch all you want but they're doing something right.
@24 have you READ Gregory's book?

But. No. Of course you haven't.

It's a great book. For fuck sake he was a civil rights activist. The book, it's title, everything- it's all about that.

And maybe those other authors you mentioned were not on the shelf.

None of us were in that room. So we only have the word of two people. A student. And a dean.

A dean that had the book of renown civil rights activist. What do you think happened?
@29, I have it, I have read it. I enjoyed it. And you are still missing the point. But I will not waste my time with the likes of you (particularly if you actually believe that the only book by a black writer on the dean's bookshelf was Gregory's book).
@24: Why NOT that particular book?
It's this sort of spineless thinking that gets American liberals into trouble, particularly the student protester variety. "I've got some good books about race in America by black authors here on my shelf. Hmm, I can give any of them to the student, except that one! That one challenges the student to take a hard look at the ugly truth of racism and the author's indictment thereof, so it might make him feel uncomfortable!"
If these namby-pamby students with their fingers in their ears had their way, higher education really would be the liberal indoctrination centers that conservatives think it is. If you can't deal with reading a difficult text that challenges your way of thinking and pushes you a little ways outside your comfort zone, you shouldn't be in a 4-year program.

My people, the Jews, have been shat on by practically every place they stay. How do we deal with it? We crack jokes at the expense of our persecutors, even if those jokes deal with hurtful concepts. The whole point of Nigger is to take the power of that word away from white racists, to neutralize its poison.
I went to S U. We are total idiots.
None of us were there for the actual conversation, so it's classic he said/she said. And who wouldn't be evasive around Ansel? He's sort of the high-strung type who is willing to take a statement and twist it around to suit his agenda.

So let me add to the speculation: I really doubt the Dean was trying to irritate/threaten/oppress/etc the student. What would be the point? To provoke a sit-in that demanded her resignation? I think she was probably trying to have a conversation and engage the student, when she should have just said the boilerplate comments that everyone says (you've given me a lot to think about/lets form a committee to explore this/thank you for opening my eyes/etc). She made the mistake of treating the student like an adult and a peer, and all the student saw was a word and an opportunity.
This is such a weirdly reported story that I am having a hard time understanding the context of the dean's statements. What lead to her statement about the student reclaiming the word, for example? If she said the name of the book title three or four times, what was the intent?

For me, the real problem is that the student made a legitimate request for more diversity in the reading materials for her class(es), and instead of addressing that request, the dean handed this one student a book and said, basically, "Here you go, here's your diversity," which is a terrible response and suggests a serious lack of understanding or consideration of the issue by the dean.

This post doesn't make it sound like that is what the student was upset about, though, and there is so much vagueness in the recounting of this discussion that I'm a little baffled.

@30. No. You're a liar. No, you don't have that book and no you haven't read it. In fact I bet you've never even heard of it.

If you had read it you would've never made your previous comment. That's all I need to know.

All these poseurs in here pretending they know anything about the history of civil rights and people like Gregory.

Nothing about this makes any sense. Ansel's writing is so coy and filled with half-implications and ominous but vague wording there is literally nothing to go on. But of course people have this overwhelming need to signal their moral self righteousness. Regardless of any real issue. Was this dean a known problem? Did she have a history or racial issues or complaints? What about this student? What do we know anout her?

No. Let's just grab pitchforks and run with it.

Why are some of you are so eager to just join an angry mob and throw a teachers career under the bus so you can join a crusade you know nothing about?
Is "An African-American student at the college" the same person as the "black student at Seattle University" in the opening paragraph? It seems like this is the case, but it reads like these are two different people.

The student isn't quoted directly, but the article says she asked for a more "diversified curriculum"; however, in her email, the dean says the student asked for "diversified reading." I know it's a little nit-picky, but the terms mean very different things. In one, it's a request for entire curriculum reform for the college, in the other, it reads like the student was asking for more to read outside of the class.

Why did the student approach the dean instead of her professor? Did the author ask her this?

Did the author ask for an example of their curriculum? Can we see a reading list? I'm interested in how diverse (or not) the Humanities curriculum actually is. It would go a long way towards showing where this student is coming from and why she approached the dean in the first place.

If "everyone has stories," did Herz ask who they were and attempt to talk with them?
I have known Dr. Jodi Kelly for almost thirty years. I have been her dean and am familiar with her work. The charge that she is a racist is a despicable slander; nothing could be further from the truth. For many years I watched her teach, very sympathetically and respectfully, the autobiography of Malcolm X, which is also doubtless still on her shelf. As a girl, her best friend was Natalie Cole, the daughter of Nat "King" Cole: that's public information: look it up. Look at what Natalie had to say about Jodi in the months before she died. What remains to be seen is whether the administrators of Seattle University will stand up for someone who has been among their best and most loyal teachers, or whether they will cower and temporize in the face of shrill children with badly misconceived ideas.

Arthur L. Fisher
@24: Do you really think that it is not, at least, colossally stupid to give Dick Gregory's book to a student complaining about lack of diversity in the syllabus?

Why would it be?
@ 40 seems to have dropped the mic here. But should the Dean have referenced this? Should "Street Cred" even need to be brought into it?

I would have recommended saying, "Next year's curriculum for this department will be decided by the Blah Blah Blah Committee. Their next meeting is on such and such date. You can send them your thoughts ahead of time at this email address." (Did I mud the part where Ansel did journalistic due diligence and looked up the process by which curriculum is decided and/or changed at this school?)
Seems like the picture that is becoming clearer is that white american college professors are not very good at dealing with race, and they get ~real~ wordy and defensive when this subject comes up. "I AM A LEARNED PROFESSOR AND I WOULD LIKE TO VOUCH MOST VOCIFEROUSLY FOR MY COLLEAGUE, WHO HAS VERY PUBLICLY BEFRIENDED NUMEROUS AND uh VARIOUS PERSONS OF COLOR. PLEASE TAKE MY PROFESSIONAL AND VERY INTELLIGENT UMBRAGE TO HEART."
I can't believe the comments about this article. Don't you understand the insults people of color have to face on a daily basis?
1st read the book, give you DEAN , teacher, other human the benefit of the doubt. LISTEN to what they have to say before screaming foul.
also, not everyone was raised in the current pseodu word nazi environment. IDEAS are important, and limiting bad speech stops the conversation.
@47: And the recommended book is first and foremost about taking the sting out of those insults, about making black people invulnerable to them. You take away the power of racists to make you feel bad, to make you feel inferior with a single word, suddenly that's one less weapon they have against you! Like the man himself wrote:
"Dear Momma -- Wherever you are, if ever you hear the word 'nigger' again, remember they are advertising my book."

The Jim Crow regime, like that of de jure slavery that it followed, was made possible by keeping black people in fear. The KKK and others lynched, at the height of Jim Crow, a mere one or two hundred a year, and that was enough to keep millions of blacks (in the South especially) afraid to step out of line lest they become a statistic. And words like 'nigger' were a reminder of that, a message of "you are subhuman, a second-class citizen, so remember your place or something bad will happen to you". It's the reduction of every person to whom it is applied to their skin color, a stripping away of every other trait that makes them who they are.
And while racist lynchings are almost entirely a thing of the past in the USA, the old fear wrapped up in the word remains. What Gregory is doing here is taking the power, and hence the harm and the hurt, of the word away from those who use it against black people.
No, they should read "Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word" by Randall Kennedy.
Telling kids these days to read Dick Gregory (an unfamiliar cultural icon, in these days) is like telling them to go read Herodotus!
Dick Gregory, author of N*****, writes declaration of support for Dean Jodi Kelly. In an unsolicited email sent to Dean Kelly on Tuesday May 17 the author writes:

Please allow me to take a moment to issue a declaration of support for Dr. Jodi Olsen Kelly, Dean of Mateo Ricci College, Seattle University.

Follow me now, a Dean suggests that a student read my autobiography, "Nigger," which has sold over one million copies, and the student is offended and the campus goes wild, demanding the Dean's resignation. This is the problem: black folks tolerate Howard University being named after General Howard, who became famous for killing Indian children, and Spelman College which was named after Rockerfeller's momma. Y'all black folks need to learn who your true oppressors are. The Dean, who had read my autobiography, gave good advice. Today, I contacted Dean Kelly directly. I wanted to make sure she didn't disrespect the title of my book by using it to be a closeted bigot. I will be 84 years old this year, and I have battled true racism and, trust me, this ain't it. I look forward to visiting your campus and advocating for my autobiography to become required reading. Brother Dick will spring for the books!

@52 - If that's true, it's genuinely interesting, but I can't find anything to corroborate it online. Where did you get this info?
@24 Precisely. A black student chose to air her concerns about a more diverse curriculum, and instead of hearing her, the Dean turned it into a teachable moment whereby she schools the black student on the virtues of reclaiming the word "nigger". That the Seattle 'splainers of Slog do not see the problem with that scenario is unsurprising.

The Dean is tone-deaf (although to be fair it sounds like she's perfect for Seattle University) and frankly, Dick Gregory is barely palatable to other black activists of the same era, most of whom are probably embarrassed by him and his raving lunacy these days, even though they wouldn't dare disrespect the man by saying so. You can see it on their faces whenever he's on a panel with them.

She ought to have been taking notes and facilitating a grown-up discussion, but if her response to a student's rather serious concern is to show her a book, there are plenty of revolutionary black activists to pick from. She chose to do the Seattle passive-aggressive thing by plucking that book out of the many she could have chosen. It sounds like the Dean was underhandedly attempting to punish the student via humiliation for annoying her by bringing up the topic. Maybe she ought to grow a thicker skin.

And it's really not the place of anybody in a position of power, especially a white person, to tell a black person they ought to reclaim the term nigger. Including in a University setting. I can't believe we have to point that out to that to presumably functioning adult human beings.
@40 doesn't need to drop the mic, but they can drop the ubiquitous "some of her best friends happen to be black" canard.
and frankly, Dick Gregory is barely palatable to other black activists of the same era, most of whom are probably embarrassed by him and his raving lunacy these days, even though they wouldn't dare disrespect the man by saying so.

Gregory is over 83 year old. He has cancer.

You don't know a thing about Gregory. Not a thing. Nor what his "contemporaries" would think of him. BTW not many of his Civil Rights contemporaries are still alive. I guess the effuse praise he receives from civil rights leaders is all some sort of embarrassed cover?

Most people with an inkling of understanding of the Civil Rights movements of the 60's and 70's know the immense level of commitment and work Gregory put into Civil Rights, Anti-war and a host of other progressive causes. The man laid his life on the line repeatedly. But, you know, you talk smack on the internet. You're the real warrior, right?

His recent penchant for rather kooky conspiracy is a result of some his health issues but his past is unimpeachable and it is despicable slander to imply otherwise. And dead giveaway you don't know what you're talking about.
The Seattle Times, in recognizing the poor handling of the MRC Coalition protest, changes headlines to: “Seattle U Fumbles Protest Handling.” As more information becomes known, including the backbone of SEIU in playing the administration, the Times and hundreds of commenters pick up on the truth behind the recent protests.…

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