Students organize Blackout at Brown and teach-in in solidarity with Mizzou

A few hundred students, dressed mostly in black, stood by the Van Wickle Gates at noon today to take a photo to show solidarity and support for Black students at the University of Missouri. Attendees remained huddled, some under umbrellas, to listen as several Black students, one by one, took to a megaphone to share their stories. They spoke about the institutional racism they had personally experienced, about the University’s refusal to value their existence and acknowledge their identities, and called for institutional changes to prevent future traumas and actualize equality on campus.

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Many students spoke about their own experiences with racism in the classroom. A first-year spoke about being in an MCM class in which the professor, after quoting a text, repeatedly used the n-word to refer to Black bodies. “It happened five times before I had to walk out,” he said. After tweeting about the incident, the student has met several times with school administrators, and said his professor sent out an email acknowledging her use of language. “But it wasn’t an apology. It was an excuse.”

Another student expressed frustration with having to continually meet with administrators about the perpetuation of institutional racism by faculty members. “I’m here because I’m tired,” they said. “I haven’t done schoolwork in months, but I’m meeting with administrators.” Others elaborated on the discomfort that many Black students feel in classrooms with professors that have made racially charged comments or have criticized the work of activists on campus. “Ken Miller, David Josephson, Ariella Azoulay, Glenn Loury — these people aren’t being punished, but we are.”

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In reference to the email sent by President Christina Paxson P’19 and Richard Locke, one student asked, “Why did they all of the sudden send out that e-mail after Mizzou and Yale?” The letter, titled “Promoting a Diverse, Inclusive Academic Community,” was sent this Tuesday to the community. “Are they scared [of losing their jobs]?” the student continued. “They should be. I’m very tired of institutional racism. If it doesn’t stop, if free speech isn’t removed from this discussion, she should be afraid.” Another student added, “I just want to say that our humanity is not up for debate.” One speaker pointed out that it took a year for the University to put a “Do not touch” sign in front of the only slavery memorial on campus, although “white children played on it the day after it was put up.”

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Wyclef’s charity fights allegations of questionable spending

Yele Haiti — a charity run by former Africana Studies visiting fellow and hip hop artist Wyclef Jean — spent less than a third of its $16 million revenue on emergency relief efforts in 2010, according to a report published by the New York Post on Sunday.

In addition to spending millions on various dubious contracts, Jean’s charity also paid $1 million to Amisphere Farm Labor Inc., a Florida-based firm that “doesn’t seem to exist.”

After the Haiti earthquake struck on January 12, 2010, Jean asked his twitter followers for $5 donations, which immediately came pouring in. Prior to the earthquake, the charity had been especially cash strapped, reporting a $244,000 net loss in 2009.

These allegations mark the second time that Jean’s charity has come under serious media scrutiny for its use of donations. Four years ago, Yele Haiti spent  $250,000 on a Haitian television station jointly owned by Jean and his cousin, Jerry Duplessis. This expense was then publicized in a 2010 report by the New York Post that first criticized Yele Haiti for its spending practices. Continue Reading


Watch out, Ruth

Visiting Fellow in Africana Studies Wyclef Jean
…there’s someone else at Brown with presidential ambitions.

Can’t wait for the next album by Visiting Fellow in Africana Studies Wyclef Jean (yeah, we still have fun writing that, too)? While If I Were President: The Haitian Experience isn’t set for release until early next year, according to his blog, Jean will release a six song EP version this December, called If I Were President: My Haitian Experience. We assume the pronoun change is a dig to election officials in Haiti, who refused to allow Jean to run in that country’s presidential election.

After the jump, listen to the single “Election Time” from the forthcoming record.

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Welcome Wyclef

Musician Wyclef Jean joins the Brown faculty

Brown can add another celebrity name to its Africana Studies department. During his lecture last night, Paul Farmer announced that musician, and former Haitian Presidential candidate, Wyclef Jean would be joining the Brown faculty. A press release yesterday confirmed that Jean will become a visiting fellow for the 2010-11 school year in Africana Studies. Now we want to know: does a free concert count as a lecture?

Hear some of his music after the jump… Continue Reading


Chinua Achebe coming to College Hill

The University announced Tuesday one of the highest-profile additions to its full-time faculty in years.

Chinua Achebe, the celebrated writer who is one of the best-known African writers and intellectuals of the 20th century, has joined the University’s Department of Africana Studies, officials said Tuesday afternoon.

In addition to bolstering a department that recently took a hit with the departure of James Campbell for Stanford last year, the 79-year-old Achebe instantly assumes the unofficial mantle of “professor whose book you’re most likely to have read in high school.” Achebe’s 1958 novel, Things Fall Apart is a staple of high school curricula and, according to Brown’s office of media relations, the most-read work of African literature of all time.

Though Achebe’s appointment has formally begun, University spokesman Mark Nickel said Tuesday that Achebe likely won’t arrive on campus until January. It’s unclear for the time being what, if any courses, he might be teaching in the spring, but let’s hope the Booker Man International Prize-winner is as adept with Banner as he is with the written word–his first class is sure to be a hot property during shopping period.

Check the Herald for in-depth coverage of Achebe’s appointment, including reaction from Africana studies department chair Tricia Rose.