On-Campus Racism: SJSU Students Arrested for Torturing Black Roommate

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  • Sara

    This is so unacceptable i dont even have words for this. I’d like to meet the parents of these kids, if the tables were turned would it “just be joke”? Since the 80s its been noted that there is a trend of white students who embraced racial diversity in highschool become oddly racist in college. Is it that the colleges arent diverse enough? Is that students who grew up in racially diverse citites/schools are socializing mostly with students who DID NOT. Is it in the curriculum they’re recieving at university level? One article specifically addressed our UC system. In reality California is not nearly as “liberal” as everyone would like to think. Frankly, alot of people of look at California with Rose colored glasses.

  • Fed up

    I am extremely offended by this article. What about black people who kill/abuse white people or kill/abuse other black people? What about white people who kill/abuse other white people? There are and always will be sick people in this world. What these people did is unacceptable and disgusting. But to denounce an entire race for the actions of a few is equally as wrong. “C’mon white people, you can do better than this.” Seriously? That alone is a prime example of bigotry. Only once race stops being acknowledged will racism end. When crimes are committed it shouldn’t be “A white man killed a black man,” it should be “One man killed another man.” There is no difference. Articles like these only work to make matters worse. The media works to increase racial tension regardless of whether it exists or not. It is the obsession with race and racial differences in America that causes these issues.

    • I apologize that you are offended but it seems as though you did not read to the end of the article.

      This post is not about black on black or white on white crime. This post is specifically about a race relations issue as outlined above. I do not have the ability to change reality. Sadly, the men who tortured this young man were white. And he was black.

      The article also calls this behavior “atypical” meaning rare or not common. This is not demeaning all white people. On the contrary, it is saying that white people should work harder to eliminate these racist sentiments from the few whites who hold them.

      I would think we can agree on that.

      Lastly, colorblindness is not the answer to racism. Recognition is the answer. Once we all recognize the historical impacts and current manifestations of racialized animus, we will begin to move past them.

      • JoJoBee

        I think both of you’re both wrong, like fer real though…

        • Sean

          Color Blindness IS the answer. To not see in color. Education is the answer. God is the answer. To see each other as God’s children and not to label one another else wise. And pray for those who don’t see each other as God’s children but as black white yellow green what ever. it’s silly. people have different hair colors, clothing styles, teeth everything. bullying is bullying. the word race needs to go. I understand that history is history and should be taught but that’s it. it needs to be history and the use of the word race needs to be apart of it. Heritage, we all have one. Race? that’s a competition. I will pray for the student and the bully students as well. And for all of Gods children that we can get along and respect one another. No matter what.

          Mark 12:31
          The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

          1 John 4:7
          Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God.

          1 Corinthians 13:4–8
          Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

        • Joseph Lane

          Both of them are wrong, consider the statements by observers on campus: The three white roommates allegedly called their black roommate “three-fifths” and “fraction” and put up a Confederate flag in the campus suite they shared, West said.

          “Three-fifths” is a reference to the fraction the U.S. Census used to count black slaves in the South in the 18th and early 19th centuries for the purpose of representation in Congress.

          In early September, the defendants allegedly placed a “U” shaped bike lock on his neck and refused to give him the key for five to 10 minutes before finally letting him out, West said.

          On another occasion, they tried to lock him in it again but he resisted and fought them and in the process bruised his lip, which led to the battery charge, West said.

          The district attorney’s office decided to file the misdemeanor hate crime based on the atmosphere the three men subjected the victim to endure, West said.

          “They gave him a racial nickname,” West said. “They continued to place a Confederate flag in the common area of the suite.”

          The suite where the eight students lived included a common kitchen, two hallways, two bedrooms and two baths, West said.

          At one point, the three students together barricaded the victim in his bedroom with furniture and other items to keep him in, attempted to lock him in a closet and took away his shoes, West said.

          Also contributing to the atmosphere of a hate crime, this time anti-Semitism, the defendants kept a photo of Adolf Hitler and placed a swastika on the picture of a person in a magazine, according to West.

          They also put a picture of a pentagram on a wall of the suite that the black student, who is a Christian, found offensive, West said.

          “He was targeted because he was different, because he was black,” West said.

      • Pam

        I think you’re missing your own point in the following statement:

        “On the contrary, it is saying that white people should work harder to eliminate these racist sentiments from the few whites who hold them.”

        Shouldn’t this read “ALL people should work harder….”?

      • James Tolson

        Well, I am black and I took the same offense that did AND I read the end of your article. While I praise your article for bringing awareness to this terrible situation, I condemn its tone and how you come just shy of issuing a race war. I appreciate your passion and you seem very intelligent but your article is offensive. Perhaps the topic made it that way… On another note, I am outraged that these kids arent in jail!

        • frederick

          “Well, I am black” <- white people in internet comments

          • hank

            wow, thank you frederick for your extremely enlightened and thought provoking comment. As if racial profiling and stereotyping isn’t rampant enough in our modern society, you have managed to assert your all knowing omnipotence in a way that now seems to deter the previous comment because it’s from “a white person”. Having individuals of every race read these articles and be conscientious of the actions of those around us is the only way to promote awareness and destroy the societal constructs in place that still divide humans by the color of their skin.

    • Stephanie reed

      Just because you wrote this like an essay doesn’t make your opinion correct. Here’s my opinion : one can’t rid of racism by ignoring it. Racism is a problem developed around prejudice mentalities and ignoring ignorance won’t make it go away it makes it more acceptable to those who think it’s ok. Also the fact that you are trying to generalize it based on other generalizations. No. I hear you that it’s also a problem that there is black on black crime and white in white crime that’s ppl in general but this situation is about some white guys harassing a black student them all being students. It’s just another case into the other cases of how vulnerable and unsafe some places can be for black Americans and it shouldn’t be that way. It’s plain wrong

    • JANE

      I’m gonna be blunt: so what? The colorblindness ship sailed off the edge of the world 500 years ago and mealy mouthed pleas to ~ignore race~ are too little too late. If you’d like to pretend that race is never a factor in anything you be my guest, but those who deal with it all day every day know different. Pointing out that racism is a thing and it exists does not forment a problem, it exposes it, your reaction is your choice and your problem. Racism is a choice. A racist reaction to people who point out racism is a choice. That’s for you to work on, not anyone else.

    • Michael

      Fed Up yours is a typical reaction by white folks. Instead of being outraged by this incident and DOING something about it, you instead shift focus and play the victim. You should be offended at what these young people did. You should be offended that in 2013 we are still dealing with this type of racist behavior. You have a very naive view of the reality of race relations in this country. Your assertion that simply refusing to acknowledge race will eventually lead to the end of racism is laughable against the backdrop of 400 years of slavery, Jim Crow, Civil Rights Discrimination and all the other forms of apartheid and slavery by another name in this country.
      Black folks and other people of color have been advocating and fighting for their rights this entire time but there is only so much that can be accomplished. What this article is saying is that white people need to step and start doing their part in all social arenas to challenge and end this type of racism. Racism will not become a thing of the past until white folks acknowledge and come to grips with their own internal racist indoctrination and come outside their comfort zones and be able to have more than a rudimentary discussion on race without becoming ”offended”. Any pain you and I may feel as white people over the issue of race is NOTHING compared to the centuries of abuse and denial of the basic humanity that most people of color have to endure throughout their lives. Your pain is nothing compared to what this young person in this story endured. You need to step back and check yourself and then check again. Jenn has nothing to be sorry for she was right on point! The history of this country is soaked in the blood, sweat and tears of people who have been exploited by a white dominant culture.

      It doesn’t matter if your family has been here for generations or are recent immigrants. If you are white in this culture you experience enormous privilege and have been indoctrinated overtly and subconsciously by the many message about race in this society. As a starting point I recommend reading
      Post Traumatic Slave Syndrome, The History of White People, The New Jim Crow, Any books by Tim Wise, any videos by Doctor Shakti Butler.

    • GTB
    • Sally Strange

      As a white person, I’m offended by your offense. Of course we can do better. White people have been messing up for hundreds of years. The past few decades have represented some small steps forward for white people being less totally awful to everyone else in the world, but there’s still more to be done, and unless we all take responsibility for making it happen, for calling out our fellow white people when they exhibit racism, it will never happen.

  • Mike

    I’m a recent SJSU Alumni, and as a Caucasian person, I couldn’t be more outraged with the ignorance of these three individuals toward their African American roommate, however after reading this article, I need to make something clear. Most Californian Caucasians, especially in my generation, are not racist and this shouldn’t be viewed as something that “we” are collectively capable of. Simply put, there are good people and bad people in this world, and the bad things that bad people do are sometimes unavoidable. Incidents like these are damaging within themselves, but they are also damaging to the Caucasian community because it perpetuates a stereotype that we tend to hate people because of their race. For most of us, that is absolutely not true.

    • Agreed. There are bad people in every racial group. White people do not corner the market in “mean.” I have been in circles with and continue to have a large group of friends who are of diverse backgrounds and I would agree that most whites are not racist. The post indicates that.

      However, this site (and this piece in particular) deals with issues facing the black community. For too often, the marginal impacts of racism come from the white community. Truth lies where it lies.

    • Emily

      “Most Californian Caucasians, especially in my generation, are not racist and this shouldn’t be viewed as something that “we” are collectively capable of.”

      As Americans, we all grow up in a society that values whiteness and white supremacy, in all honesty. That’s why most models, actors, politicians, news anchors, etc (i.e. people shown to us in the media who model “American life”) are white or white-passing. Therefore part of our societal training, no matter how much we don’t want to believe it, is to really press us to favor whiteness.

      As a white person in California of your same age-group I couldn’t disagree with you more on your notion that people in our societal bracket aren’t racist. You hear it all the time! At best are little “jokes” and remarks here and there that demean, stereotype, dehumanize, and/or make fun of people of other races and cultures; and -yes- even a “light-hearted” stereotype-based joke is racist!

      It’s pretty much a constant thought that the longer I know a white person it’s only a matter of time until they say something racist and I can count on one hand the people who have proven me wrong. Now I’d say half the time their racist notions come to light they completely take being called out on it the wrong way, they defend their “right” to make racist statements because “It’s just a joooooke” or “Well stereotypes are based on truth”, another quarter of the time they say they understand but I’m left with the feeling they will just remember not to let those ideas out around me, and the last quarter is people who actually absorb the truth and assimilate it into their way of thinking. I don’t know what white people you’re hanging out with but either you don’t talk much, you only talk about school, or you just might be one of the white people making light-hearted, easy-breezy racist jokes.

      People who think racist jokes should be taken lightly are still just feeding the monster that is racism. The a**holes in this article probably got away with “diet racism” all their lives and once they finally got out of Mommy & Daddy’s house it wasn’t too big of a leap into torture. The terrible people in this article had the audacity to believe their behavior was just a joke! AND THEY ARE ONLY SUSPENDED AT THIS POINT! That right there is a product of a white-supremacist society. If SJSU valued and respected the livelihood and safety of black students that pay them lots of good, American money they would have expelled the racists on sight.

      “but they are also damaging to the Caucasian community because it perpetuates a stereotype that we tend to hate people because of their race”
      Your point is that it sucks that people will rightfully assume that since you’re white you’re probably sortof racist. If you’re not a racist then you have nothing to worry about. There are students living on campus at SJSU right now worried that someone they know was literally tortured in his dorm for no damn reason and if the perpetrators aren’t rightfully punished there might be other people who will try to do the same. There is no comparison between those two issues.

  • Ari Palmer

    You’re just as racist for saying “…C’mon white people, you can do better than this. I know enough of you – whom I deeply adore – to know that this is atypical for you.” By generalizing that all white people are like this shows that you, as an individual, are ignorant and incapable of seeing people as sole and separate entities from their skin colors. Granted what happened was horrible, but those children(calling them children since they lost their man cards in my eyes) don’t represent us as a people. Before you go posting anymore blogs about random acts of hate, get your act together yourself, and don’t stereotype. Thank you.

    • GTB

      Whites are not “a people” in the sense of having any shared history prior to the middle of the previous century. Many people now considered white were not before then.

      • Ari Palmer

        In that one sense but you’re correct. Though, you’re manipulating words to your advantage. Whites are a people, just as blacks are a people.

        • GTB

          Its an important distinction because racism is often disguised as “cultural pride” in “European heritage,” etc.

    • Ravan

      You copy and pasted it and still didn’t read it? she literally says that “this is atypical for you.”

      I think people should move past their butt-hurt feeling regarding messages and take them in the spirit they are given. I took it as a call to action, albeit tongue in cheek. If you all are so adamant about it being color-blind and a human being thing then what is stopping you from doing your part as a human being and standing up for this young man’s rights?

      For the record, your opinions on color blindness are merely that–your opinions. My opinion is that a massive part of my identity does not have eliminated to satisfy your need for sameness. Sounds rather dystopian “The Giver” to me. Try celebrating differences, including differences in communication style, before you hop up on that soap box.

      • Zahna

        Thank you so much for that! Reading through these comments it hurt me to see that many could not get past their hurt feelings and see the message she is promoting. You so eloquently put exactly what I was feeling into words and I wish everyone else could see this.

      • Exactly what you said Ravan. Thank you for comprehending and articulating my point so well:)

    • Emily

      Your point is that it sucks that people will rightfully assume that since you’re white you’re probably sortof racist. If you’re not a racist then you have nothing to worry about. There are students living on campus at SJSU right now worried that someone they know was literally tortured in his dorm for no damn reason and if the perpetrators aren’t rightfully punished there might be other people who will try to do the same. There is no comparison between those two issues.

    • Emily

      I think the last paragraph is something that really needs to be examined and focused on. It’s not a condemnation of all white people to being capable of the torture these students inflicted. It’s an acknowledgement of the -reality- of the racism present in our society. Our inaction when our white family members and friends make racist jokes, stereotype-based sweeping generalizations, and remarks feeds the monster that justifies, in the heads of some, behavior like this. To be honest, when white people close to us we, as white people, need to call them out and explain to them why dehumanizing other races is terribly wrong even when they say it’s just a joke. The way I interpreted the last paragraph was as a call to much-need action. Being an anti-racist white person means doing work in deconstructing racism in our lives and the lives of people close to us, it’s not just saying you “don’t see color”. I don’t think you, a white person, have any room to tell a black woman to “get your act together” on her analysis of racism. You get to turn off your computer and forget about this article when just last month there was a college kid paying to go to a school where he was tortured for the color of his skin and there are countless racist injustices committed in our country daily. Ari: you need to get your act together & the sad thing is the author of this article was saying she believes that you totally can but you completely missed the point.

      • Emily

        when white people close to us are racist we, as white people, need to call them out*

  • Michellle Meaders

    This is really sad.

    “All of these events happened in a suite shared by a total of eight occupants. Sadly, this young man had to endure the treatment from August 20th to October 13th of this school year.”

    Where were the other 4 occupants? Why did they all let it go on so long?

    • Great questions. That is part of the reason for the call to action at the end of the post. Someone had to have known this was going on and chose not to do anything about it.

    • Sally Strange

      They were the bystanders. In bullying, there is always a perpetrator, a victim–and bystanders. Basically the author’s last paragraph, to which so many of my fellow pale-faces are so idiotically objecting, is a call for white people to no longer fall victim to the bystander effect. She’s asking for us to speak up when we witness racism and demonstrate that we’re not okay with it.

      And, just to forestall your questions:

      1. I don’t know for sure if the roommates were white. I think it’s a reasonable assumption that most of them were white, since the dynamics of bullying usually include an element of isolation, and racially harassing a black student would have been more difficult if he were not the only student of color in the suite.

      2. I would also call for people of color to speak up against the bystander effect, except that it’s different when you’re aware that you’re also a potential target. If one of them were black and spoke up in defense of his black suite-mate, no doubt the bullies would also turn their attentions to him.

      Satisfied now, predictable hyper-skeptics?

  • GTB

    Respectfully, I am disinclined to view these people as aberrant sociopaths. My guess is that, being young, they were simply not aware of how to channel their racism in more socially accepted ways, as many if not most whites do.

    • Dori

      What? Did you just really say that?

    • Educated Latina

      So you’re saying they should’ve been racist in a different way?

    • Stuart Levy

      Re “more socially accepted ways”: I think this is important, and ugly but true. We rarely today see racism expressed through naked brutality the way it was in the ’60s (and in this event at SJSU). Most people are more subtle now. But that doesn’t mean racism isn’t pervasive – in stereotypes reinforced on TV, in political rhetoric.

      Michelle Alexander’s “The New Jim Crow”, which everyone should read, cites some eye-opening studies. For example: shown brief glimpses of black people and of white people, *both whites and blacks* are more likely to report seeing the person holding a weapon if the person pictured is black – even if there is no weapon in the picture.

  • Carrie

    This is really just sad.These kids are sick. Correction, their not kids, these men are pathetic. When will this behavior stop?

  • Dori

    If there are 8 people in the dorm, WHY didnt any of the other kids step up and say ANYTHING to defend him? Why didn’t they REPORT these other roommates? Silent bystanders are just as much to blame. WE HAVE TO STOP BEING SILENT BYSTANDERS PEOPLE! Colorblindness does not exist. The reality is we all see the world in COLOR! Lets embrace it, talk about it, and deal with the issues.

    • Dionne

      Dori, I have the same questions you have. Your observation is also true of some of the comments on this post. Where are the readers who put off defense, and put on empathy? I read this account and am saddened for the life of the tortured student. My heart goes out to him, and yet some of these comments focus on a perception that isn’t even asserted here. Why did he endure this treatment for so long? Where were the other 4 roommates you asked? Perhaps standing idly by criticizing their tortured roommates pleas for help. Instead of intervening and standing up against injustice, they used their collective voice to point out that not all white people are racist (Mike). Blacks are racist too! (Fed up, Ari). Ironically, this comment section appears to be a microcosm of the world this poor student lived in. The truth is that this post holds up a mirror to the reader. Those that dare read must look introspectively, and many don’t like what is reflected back at them. However, instead of responding with empathy for the victim, they respond defensively.

      • Dame

        Well said, Dionne.

  • PISSEDOFFPOC

    Dear Jenn, first off I’d like to apologize for the assholes who claim “your being racist against white people”. Really don’t defend yourself against such ignorance.

    Dear white people (who are butt hurt and feel attacked for being called out)

    Seriously, do you have to make everything about yourself. God quit your white tears for two fucking seconds and understanding the meaning of this article. Hint it’s not about your feelings being babied and told that your a good person!

    You don’t want to be classified as “racist”, and say your not all the same.
    Well no not all of you are, but a lot of you are. You’re ignorant, your oblivious to what life is like for someone not white. EVERY FUCKING DAY, people of color are reminded that their skin color matters. This kid is harassed and bullied and all you have to say is “hey we are not all the same”. How about instead of trying to defend yourself you fucking go do something about it. Stand up, because until then you all act the fucking same.

    Also look up reverse racism.
    Educate yourself.

    Some of you may say “oh get over it racism is not as bad now a days or nonexistent”
    and to this I say
    ahahhahaahhhahahahahahahaa.

    You have no fucking idea of your white privilege. Even when you do, you really don’t. Only those who don’t have white privilege really understand this.

    I’m ending this rant, I’m just so pissed off and annoyed with butt hurt white people.
    (yeah I’m grouping you guys get over it).

    ps. I’m not coming back to this article so kiss my ass I won’t defend my words or waste my time talking to ignorant white people.

    • GTB

      ^ Made my night that much more sweet.

    • LOL Thanks for visiting!

    • Jim Myers

      Yooooo, so white guy here:

      I’ve been having a lot of moral conundrum lately about my white privilege, which I am well aware of. I am quite liberal and vehemently oppose all forms of racism, so when I deeply examined white privilege and its effects on mine and my peers’ lives, I kind of ended up hating myself. I realized that no matter what I do, or where I go, or how much activism and equity and equality I promote, I still perpetuate a system that oppresses. Some of the most wonderful people in my life are of color, and I walk around oppressing them with the shade of my skin.

      You’re pissed off, and I dig that. The problems with race we got going on here (I’ll use the sample of this country for simplification) is atrocious, but I implore you not to make the blanket statement that all white people are totally stoked to be white. I’m absolutely not trying to make light of the subjugation we see as a result of white privilege, but I’d like to make the claim that institutionalized racism actually harms nearly everyone across the board, even racist whites. Living a life filled with ignorance and misplaced hatred is its own sort of prison. Racists will have no sympathy from me, but that does not mean I will not try to understand them.

      The big puzzle piece a lot of people are missing is that it is not guilt that whites (white men, moreover, if you want to get to the nitty-gritty) must bare, but responsibility. I’m paraphrasing Tim Wise, but essentially, if I’m taking over a company, you should not blame me for the massive debt and injustice done under my predecessor’s watch. You should, though, expect me to do everything in my power to do right by those damaged by the outcomes of said injustice. The same can be said in the context of historic racial injustice. You can’t blame whites as a group or as individuals for institutionalized racism, but you can certainly hold them (us) to be accountable for the past and to do our darndest cease the perpetuation of such foolish and petty discrimination.

      • Very well said sir. Welcome to the site. Oh, I mean yooooooo.

  • Sacha

    I am saddened, I am angry, I am humbled, I am white, I am racist.

    I agree that this occurrence is an example of racism. I agree that behavior like this is unacceptable. But I disagree that the racism exemplified by this event is atypical. It may not look like this every day, but acts of racism occur against people of color every minute.

    Our prisons are filled with men of color who have drug offenses, yet white college campuses (like the one I attended) are saturated with drugs of every kind. No one is raiding them, no one is throwing these students in jail. These men of color who serve their time leave prison unable to benefit from social programs because they have a criminal record, unable to vote, unable to rebuild their lives. This IS racism.

    If you are white, like I am, then YOU are a part of this problem. If you deny it based on liberal ideals, then you are sleeping. If you deny it because you are proud that you have black friends then you are fooled. The responsibility ALL of ours. The history of this country belongs to ALL of us.

    If this sadden you, if this angers you, if this humbles you, then it is your personal privilege and responsibility to sit in that fire of TRUTH. Then, I challenge you, every moment, to see the world through this lens and do your part to FIGHT against the policies, the words, and the actions you see and hear in your work places, schools, and communities that reinforce racism.

    As a white person you have a CHOICE to think this way and to act on it. Your black brother and sister don’t have that choice, for them this IS an unavoidable truth.

    May we hold one another in love and have the courage to face our fears.

    .

  • EquallyPissed

    God, people. You’re all ignorant. Sure, I agree that many (I wouldn’t go as far as most) “white” people are racist. Whether they mean to be or not, it’s our culture. Maybe you should try doing YOUR part to change it. You ask for whites to wake up and help out to put a stop to racism and division, but let me help you understand where you’re so very wrong. Try this on for size…

    ———————————-

    Dear black people (who are butt hurt and feel attacked for being called out)

    Seriously, do you have to make everything about yourself? God quit your black tears for two fucking seconds and understand the meaning of this article. Hint it’s not about your feelings being babied and told that you’re a good person!

    You don’t want to be classified as “racist”, and say you’re not all the same.
    Well no not all of you are, but a lot of you are. You’re ignorant, you’re oblivious to what life is like for someone not black. EVERY FUCKING DAY, white people are reminded that their skin color matters. This kid is harassed (happens to white kids at the hands of black kids just the same) and bullied and all you have to say is “hey we are not all the same”. How about instead of trying to defend yourself you fucking go do something about it. Stand up, because until then you all act the fucking same.

    You have no fucking idea of your black privilege. Even when you do, you really don’t. Only those who don’t have black privilege really understand this.

    I’m ending this rant, I’m just so pissed off and annoyed with butt hurt black people.
    (yeah I’m grouping you guys get over it).

    **Grammatical errors corrected
    —————————————————

    Nice, right? Applaud it if you want, but this rant was disgusting and your applause is disgusting. The racial divide is being perpetuated by ignorant, disgusting, racist bigots like you. Keep it up and pat yourself on the back. Thanks to idiotic people like you, blacks and whites will spend another century at each other’s throats. Your children thank you.

    P.S. Like the author of the post I’ve (kind of) quoted here, I won’t be coming back. I’ll also do some kind of drive-by, cowardly, weak BS crap while I leave you all to seethe about how much of a horrible racist I am. God, sir (or madam), you are one brave soul.

    • JANE

      Well, congratulations on using a lot of jargon that you don’t actually understand the meaning of, I guess.

  • Mike

    I will say it again, just because I’m white doesn’t mean I’m racist, and if you think otherwise, then that makes you a racist. I don’t treat people according to their ethnicity, but after reading some of these comments I definitely feel like I’m being treated according to my ethnicity. How is it any different? You don’t know shit about me, but because I’m white, I’m obviously privileged and I’m obviously racist. That’s absolute bullshit, and if you feel that way then you’re apart of the problem.

    There’s this idea that white people have no room to complain about anything because we’ve done so much to oppress other races, but what about people like myself that are completely removed from that? Ah oh, I’m racist because I don’t do anything to change how society thinks? Hey, point me in the right direction and sign me up! In the meantime, it isn’t exactly easy for one person to do.

    “My guess is that, being young, they were simply not aware of how to channel their racism in more socially accepted ways, as many if not most whites do.” Hey, GTB, I’d like to see that mind-reading machine you have all of us dastardly whites hooked up to.

    • Sacha

      Its about being race conscious and owning the collective responsibility of what it means to live in a society that is unequal. When our country/world struggles with an undercurrent of racism/sexism/homophobia its is on all of us. Its not about pointing fingers and saying one person is racist, the problem is so much bigger than that.

    • GTB

      If you want to push in the right direction, I respect that. One way to start is to watch this, share it with one other white person, and ask their impression.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YyL5EcAwB9c
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gOS3BBmUxvs

      I’m white, so I’m not suggesting anything I haven’t done.

  • Gary Montesinos

    The moment I saw this part I knew I had to stop reading. “Their lack of diversity seems to turn them into a breeding ground for the George Zimmermans of the future.” Let’s not kid ourselves about Trayvon he was not what the media tried to make him out to be and we will never be able to know the specifics of the case so can everyone just let it go. I’m Mexican and let me tell you whites are not the only racists out there. Maybe if African Americans weren’t always using the N word then others would not think it’s ok to use the word. I have seen African Americans be racist to other cultural groups. So it’s not fair to say that you are the only victims when some African Americans promote the same amount of hate and prejudice that you are accusing Caucasians of doing. Take a long look at your cultural group before you go around bashing other groups for your perceived faults.

  • Christine

    Racism everywhere and not a racist to be found, as usual. It’s exhausting and it has gotten old.

  • Arthur

    support HBCUS

  • Arthur

    support HBCUS, build HBCUS

  • Dame

    Excellent piece, Jenn. Thank you. You got it just right.

  • Frank Robinson

    Thank you for this item, Jenn. Put some daylight on it. Otherwise we would not know about this, and if we did, it would likely be through a filter that diminishes weight and dulls implications. Roaches, cowards and self-flatterers (“We are not bigots”) do not do well in light and exposure.

  • Keith McAdoo

    This is ONLY a misdemeanor? Seriously.
    It’s no wonder these men think it was a joke.
    How was this not charged as a Hate Crime?

  • Mike Gray

    Half white half black UC Santa Cruz sociology major commenting.

    After reading some of the “poor white people” responses on here, I have come to the conclusion that there’s a difference between truly being liberal, and being a white person who likes liberal ideas.

    Whites have it easier than blacks, and you and I both know it. So please, all of you, shut the hell up. The only logical response to this article should be “Screw racism, and screw anyone who’s ok with racism”. How incredibly selfish of some of you to make this article about yourselves, especially since seeing how this is a liberal page, many of you should be educated and know better. Shame.

  • Mike

    Maybe I’m just stupid, but I’m still not grasping what I’m supposed to do. There is no question that these three individuals are racist. I’m sure everyone can agree with that, but it sounds like you’re asking me to lump myself in with them because I’m white. How is that not equally ignorant and prejudice towards me? How is that not in itself racist? I have yet to hear a response about that, specifically, that isn’t some drastic leap in logic.

    That’s like saying if it was three African Americans tormenting a Caucasian roommate, that I’m perfectly justified in saying “C’mon ALL black people. I expect more from you.”

    • Mike Gray

      Hint: This article isn’t about YOU and your precious feelings. It’s about a black kid who was harassed and humiliated just for being black.

      Goes to show how tough black people really have it: When someone reads an article like this and their reaction is “But what about ME?”, it reveals how much concern you actually have for “those people”.

    • Dame

      Mike, I think your question is a good one, and quite valid. I’m always appreciative of the white person who asks questions instead of makes statements in a situation like this.

      I recently won a photo/film contest which brought me into contact with a large group of new Facebook friends. They were mostly white. I am black. What I found when I began to explore some of their personal pages, was that they had personal friends who would leave random bigoted, and sometimes racist statements on my new friends’ posts. I found it troubling that while my new friends considered themselves good people (they were certainly good enough for me to enjoy their company), almost none of them felt the need to speak up against this type of behavior – or at least delete it from their page. I personally know some ignorant black folks. I do what I can to educate the ones who are close to me. Some are so ignorant, that I have to leave them to folks who can better reach them. Ultimately, my middle school director said it best, “If you’re not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.”

      • Pam

        Best reply I’ve seen out of this entire discussion.

        • Carolyn

          I second that. White ppl have the responsibility to speak up when they see fucked up behavior to a POC, because if a black person gets angry or even just points out wrongdoing, they’re labeled as “angry black guy/girl” and written off. BUT if white people are willing to stand up and SAY something, instead of letting their silence implicitly approve that behavior, maybe other white folks will pay more attention.

          Not trying to suggest black voices are less important or powerful, just that if you want to create positive change you need to meet people where they’re at – and probably a lot of white ears (especially bigoted ones) are more receptive to white voices. So, that’s how it’s your responsibility as a white person who wants to help eradicate hate.

      • Mike

        I’m very sorry you had that experience, Dame. Yeah, that is a HUGE problem. I friended someone on Facebook a while back that kept using the N word, and I called him out on it and then blocked him.

  • Mike Gray

    Does it suck to be white and not be racist at all, yet be forced to deal with the collective responsibility of white privilege and discriminating against minorities for so long? Of course.

    Now, choose. You can either be white and have white privilege, and occasionally deal with articles like this, or…you can be black. Which you gonna pick?

    Since you and me both know you aren’t going to be volunteering to walk into a black person’s shoes anytime soon, you really need to drop the pity act and shut your trap.

  • Jesse

    It amazes me that people can behave this way, yet what astounds me are some of the reactions it evokes. No doubt these students should be punished and corrected in there ways, but is it so necessary to rag on white people every time a a small popluation acts out: as if all Africans were enslaved and white people no nothing of it? Black people enslaved black people, white people enslaved white people, Irish were mocked when migrating, former slaves were mocked when trying to learn. Every race and culture has faced some sort of discrimination, I think a small part of the reason we have not yet moved on from the American “color struggle” is that out of pride, groups continuously seperate themselves, for example schools have Black Student Unions, Asian Student Unions, African American Fratenities,etc., even the author of this article distinguishes that she writes about “black America” not just America. Is this not prideful segregation? Distinguishing one’s self as better than others? Growing up in an area where these Unions are common and segregation is not, these are my views.

    • Jesse

      *”no nothing of it” Line 3 should be “no experience in slavery”

  • Kirsten

    Maybe I am mistaken….but I am pretty sure I read that this was not about all white ppl…. The anger this article caused is ridiculous. She didn’t call all white ppl racist. She did NOT group everyone together. She said that it was a small portion of white.people who are guilty of this.
    And once again, I may be mistaken…but the last time I checked….race is a pseudoscience. Invented by hate ….not real…

    • Mike

      I have no hang ups with the author of this article, because you’re right, she didn’t say anything very offensive, however she did open up the floor to a racially charged discussion. For those of you telling me to “stop crying,” 1) Realize that it’s not crying, and it’s me trying to make a point. I wouldn’t blame anyone out there for doing the same thing. 2) As long as I have the right to defend myself on here, then I will, so live with it.

      Realize that an incident like this is humiliating. It reinforces a negative stereotype CLEARLY of what the white community is. For the people attacking me, you really can’t understand that? Of course I feel sorry for that kid. Of course those three kids were racist dumbasses, but when I see comments on here like “Stop crying your white tears because you have life so easy, and all white people are secretly racist anyway,” then it’s perfectly reasonable for me to want to contest that. It’s ridiculous.

      With that said, I am genuinely interested in being educated on what “white privilege” is. I’m not being sarcastic. Please for anyone willing to take the time, (maybe the sociology major?) I want to hear your argument. In fact, throw some statistics at me, and cite your sources.

  • Madzia

    I noticed a lot of people are offended by the writer’s last paragraph (the “come on, white people..”), and it seems like you guys misunderstood her. No where is she saying that this kind of behavior is a reflection of all white people’s attitudes; she is asking for a call to action, for us white folks to come together and try to reduce this behavior and influence our peers to see how inappropriate this is. That’s how I see it, anyhow, I could be wrong…
    anywho great article, such a shame these men weren’t expelled! The victim deserves to feel as safe as possible on campus and it’ll be hard with those goons around!

    • Thanks for commenting! And you hit the nail on the head:)

  • Madzia

    I live in Chicago, and whenever there is a shooting/gang activity/etc. in the Black community, many Black pastors/leaders call for the Black community to come together, to help educate children and young people to not be led astray and to not join such a lifestyle. They don’t just call those who are directly responsible, they call upon EVERYONE in the Black community to work together and look out for one another. I think that us white people should do the same. This whole, “yeah well it’s just those douchebags, they don’t represent us” is not acceptable, of course they don’t represent us, and more likely than not their parents were great, and they just came out crazy. But many events like these would have been prevented if the kids were taught from an early age that such behavior is unacceptable, and for the community to come together to see what we can do to stem such things.

  • Darrius

    Wow, this is extreme. I believe the ultimate solution is just separation. I mean like really Black vs. White, dogs vs cats, god vs devil, Good vs. Evil, Ying and Yang. We are obviously each other natural enemy. Think about it….”separation”. I honestly believe that my fellow Caucasian race doesn’t have a problem with separating. Just google “White Flight”. However on the other hand my fellow African american people, separation might be a factor.

    Honestly when I look at racial acts, I don’t blame the defendant I blame the victim. Why, simply because he/she lack of knowledge of self and self-history. These racial acts are natural and will continue to occur to one of the groups decides to separate. I’m sorry if this sounds harsh but I don’t live in the illusion to want to live and have a paradise with my former-slave master or my former-slave. The same way the Chinese don’t want to live with there former-suppressor the Japanese. Somethings just has to be commons sense, but first you need to get out of the Matrix to even know what is common sense is.

  • Ashley

    That’s terrible! People need to grow up and stop treating people inhumane! But at the same time, the author is calling out white people.. But all white people shouldn’t be to blame for these kids actions.. No more then black people should be blamed for another black persons actions.. Everybody is responsible for themselves! Period!

    • But, don’t you think black people are blamed for the actions of other black people? That’s the definition of racial profiling.

  • Cee

    I’m reading these comments and all I can say is WOW. The fact that most of the article responses are focused on defending one’s race or another is somewhat disheartening. I have yet to to a comment that simply sympathizes for the young man who was tortured. I’m sorry let me make that clear of the “Human” who was tortured in his own right to pursue a higher education at a highly regarded institution. The facts are fact people. He was black and they were white. OKAY I GET IT. Does racism still exist in America? Everyday. The fact that people are becoming less and less HUMAN is what makes my skin crawl,history CANNOT BE ERASED.The fact that we can understand why the Jews hate the Nazis, but not why Blacks, Puerto Ricans and Native Americans have ill feelings toward the White race is what bothers me.IT WAS ALL WRONG, You choose with whom you want to sympathize with,instead of admitting that those acts were cruel and evil,and that is what makes YOU less human then the people doing the wrong.And you don’t have to respond to this because frankly I don’t give…..well you know the rest.

  • Kyle

    Thank You for this article! It’s sad that we still live in a day in age that color defines everything that you do. However, I don’t believe we should be having a internet argument trying to figure out what was a offensive and what statement was trying to be made. Racism still is alive in America, that is all that matters. Instead of pointing fingers and being offend work towards the problem, that goes for Caucasian and Blacks. Now I will say that some African Americans (which is my race) don’t help make the situation lighter with some actions they make, but that’s a inner racial issue our community needs to fix. Come together to fix the problem! Let’s not sit here and see who is more intellectually savy. Keep in mind, I’m 17 years old. And I realize myself that arguing and point fingers only gravitate us as people away from the main problem and creates another problem. Come together ! We all breath the same, walk the same, talk the same, and are HUMAN. The least we could do is attempt to genuinely love each other….

  • Imani B.

    As a college student who is losing sleep and performing poorly in school because of a recent series of racist incidents on campus, that our university is not handling well, I loved this article.

  • Jamieko

    My question is how did this go on so long? 8 roommates only 3 charged? And he did he not speak up??? Two hours of being tortured is more than enough, two months is insane? It baffles me that this happened this poor child. I wonder where all of these kids are from. But that it’d make a difference but I am curious where you’re taught this behavior is acceptable.

  • LJ

    Ok, I have to say this, I didnt read the entire blog chain, but it sounds like people are on the fence with the original statement made by Jenn Jackson. My understand from her entry is stating only that the men who happen to be white were the cause for action to be taken and questions answered.

    1. Why did these WHITE guys turture this BLACK man?
    2. Where were and why did the remaining occupants step up and say anything?
    3. Why did the tortured student not already make this known to someone? From Aug to October and you didnt talk to someone about it?

    Bottom line to it all….there is racism in all of us for some reason or another. This issue still exist and will always exist as long as humans are around. It’s the hate crimes that are happening all too often. This is the reason for the call to action. It wasnt because of the men who did this hainess thing where white, it was the criminal activity that happen to have been committed by white men.

    Thanks for allowing me in the chain!

  • Brian Thomas

    That’s really unacceptable. I have black friends and I guarantee if the african american kid was to defend himself and beat the kids up, he would be labeled as the angry black guy. Not cool, I love martin luther king for what he has done but I’m more with the malcolm x. Defend yourself any means necesary. I seen a black kid beat the stuffing out of a white kid for picking with him. Did I help the white kid. Nope!! I shook the black kids hand and said you did the right thing. He should learn now.

  • Alex Johnson

    I do not understand all the backlash to the article. This idea of colorblindness does not work if the people who are committing the crime are focused on the color. Not seeing the color only means you are ignoring the issue. If you don’t label it as a hate crime then you are looking at it as “just a joke” which is how the perpetrators rationalize it to themselves.
    As well I don’t think all people can stop people from being racist because they will only listen to those of their same race, not others that they look down on.

  • Anonymous bro

    We exist in a massive vacuum of miscommunication.

    I speak from the perspective of a millennial, a Ghanaian American. In the late 80’s, I hit the scene in New York to a set of Ghanaian parents. I spent much of my childhood in West Africa, and would later experience my adolescent and teenage years in the midwest (product of the BIG10). Throughout this time, I managed to attend schools predominant in every “major” racial American classification – mostly black, mostly white, mostly hispanic. This smorgasbord of environmental experiences made it difficult for me to fully feel at ease anywhere, but they also gifted me the acumen and access to become a casual observer of races – able to comfortably free flow through various levels of racial and social strata. You see this phenomenon more often with African Europeans than immigrant African Americans (re:Idris Elba)

    Being a millennial with my specific life experience has been a curious thing.. Ive been able to observe racial tension in the U.S. with both intrinsic and extrinsic perspective. Unsurprisingly, the greatest common factor that we as an American people share is a lack of collective perspective. There are 300million+ people in the United States. Prior to 10 years ago, we had the television to condition our views as a collective. “Whites are Racist,Blacks are Dangerous,Hispanics are Lazy”, and so on and so forth. The legacy of a racially marred American past reassert said ideals, and the cycle is perpetuated in present. Prejudice and fear hang like a fog in the American socio-economic sphere — we are shaped by this. Fast forward to 2013, the ‘individual’ has been afforded a voice, albeit a digital voice in a world coded by profit, trolls and fear mongering. Isolated incidents of racially motivated activity are now shared by the thousands+ creating brand new galaxies of racial tension and miscommunication.

    We need to go back a bit. We’re fuckin up.

    We must learn as a coalition of Americans who want the same thing – equality, fair-treatment and synergy amongst all. I firmly believe that whatever race or socio-cultural orientation one may ascribe to, we must learn to redefine ourselves as those who wish well on the American racial climate, and those who don’t. There are no more “communities of race” in a traditional sense. In this world, there is no black community. There is no white community, there are just a fuckload of really tired people who want nothing more than to be treated equal and to not have to think about it, so as to go about their lives and create. There is a growing economical divide between those who have and those who have not. Similarly, there is a growing divide between those who are aware and those who are unaware. Those who are aware have the foresight to realize that very soon America won’t be divided so much by race as it is by those who are willing to collaborate with one another. They are able to look past latent definitions of what others are capable of based on their race/background. Of course, there will ALWAYS be racists on all sides of the rubix cube. There will ALWAYS be those who find comfort and purpose in crutching onto the ills of the past and making them present due to their inability to move into the future. There will ALWAYS be communities of people who will never change the way they think, and they are meant to stay in the past..glossed over in the future because of their lack of meaningful contribution to society. We cannot allow these types to condition the future. This tool we have, the internet…we can use it to win. We can no longer categorize entire groups of people. There are just too many damn people and it only serves to further polarize us (also the rent really is too damn high). For every one person of another race you might observe to offend or approach you based on their preconceived notions and expectations, there are hundreds if not thousands of people who wish for an opportunity to speak with you on a human level, as a friend. Believe this.

    The key to winning the future lies in the acknowledgement that we are too large and too complex to function based on an arbitrary variable such as skin color. The ills of the past hurt. They’ve shaped our perspectives and our life experiences. I am not afraid to admit that I have been discriminated against at various points in my life because of my appearance. But I also know many people of different race who would give absolutely anything to ensure that I am never discriminated against again. We are people now. We need to restructure our thinking to reflect that, and not defined by colors. The color model doesn’t work anymore. Its inconsistent with the present. There will be racially motivated stories; some true, some blown out of proportion to stir the racial-media frenzy, some even completely false but shared across the web with vigor – deplorable events will even happen for the sake of lighting the internet on fire. There will be discrimination. There will be racist assholes. We must begin to reframe the way we look at people: those who are for progression, and those who are not. This is the way the future will look. Being stuck in the past will encourage a difficult existence, as the dissonance you feel between what you expect and what you experience will be unbearable in an increasingly post racial America. don’t do it. We must use the past to guide us into the future, but dare we traverse the future using the feelings of the past as navigation instead of as a component in a larger pragmatic approach, we all will be lost forever. If you struggle with this idea, pretend for a moment that there are whole different ways of thinking that may oppose what you’ve been taught your whole life. Then believe that.

    You are all that is. Now change America for the better, because now you can.

  • Thomas Evans

    I wonder how aware the other four roommates were of all of this? The answer lies in bystander’s willingness, courage, and skill at speaking up and helping – black, white, green or otherwise.

  • Jon Stones

    I am interested to know why the boy who was being victimized didn’t come forward. Not surprised that this happened. Disappointed but curious to why you would let someone do stuff like that to you. Why didn’t reassign to a new dorm? Why didn’t he come forward? Like, it took you from August to October. Thats ridiculous. I don’t want to place blame on the kid but its just weird why you would let some people do something to you like that. On top of the fact who were the rest of the kids in the suite. They didn’t stand up for him. Black or White … where were your friends at. This whole situation is all bad. I would like to see more details on everything that was going on. Yes it is race related to an extent but there could be other factors involved.

  • Emmica

    Getting defensive usually means you’re guilty of something, just saying.

    Let’s clarify a few things:

    1) For all those who say that this isn’t a race thing or shouldn’t be a race thing because it’s “just violence from one student to another”, WRONG. When you come up with names used to dehumanize someone based on their race and their culture’s history, you’re being racist. “Three-fifths” and “fraction” are based off of the 3/5 compromise (as previously stated in the article) and are just a modern day version of white kids thinking they’re better than a black kid.

    2) Color blindness is NOT the way to go. Color blindness is a way to sweep the past under the rug. You cannot look at a minority and a white person and say “I see no color; they’re just people.” Because society has chosen to treat people of color differently for so long, the color of somebody’s skin (whether you like it or not) plays a part in their identity and their struggles in life. Saying you’re color blind really just means you don’t want to acknowledge the struggles that an individual has faced due to racist oppression, and you’re discrediting their experiences of oppression. If the playing field for whites and people of color was always equal then you could be color blind. Obviously that isn’t the case so stop trying to hide the problems.

    3) To all those white people crying about how this is racist against whites and how whites are being generalized and discriminated against, cry me a river. Newsflash: Reverse racism isn’t a thing. On an individual level, yes; an individual of color can be racist to a white person. On an institutional larger level, white people still have way more power and still have no way of really being oppressed because of the negative ideas about them. At most they “suffer” from constantly being reminded that they have white privilege and have to accept that.

    4) For those of you white people who complain about being grouped in with all white people, WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF PEOPLE OF COLOR. They are constantly judged on stereotypes about their culture: about being ratchet, being violent, being stupid, being loud, etc. The difference is that apart from being “grouped” with white people (newsflash, you’re white…), you will still most likely not really ever be judged negatively according to what your associated group does. People won’t look at you and say “hey that’s a white person; those white people are so violent and racist so be wary of that person because they may do something dangerous” and cops won’t stop you because you look “suspicious”. People of color, on the other hand, will continue to be judged based on any negative stereotypes about their culture. They get attacked, arrested, searched, and more. That doesn’t happen to white people for the most part. So yes, at worst you get a bunch of mean comments online about how you have white privilege. Boo freakin’ hoo.

    And 5) Separation? That is the dumbest thing I have ever heard. Like yes, let’s just all go live on our separate islands so as not to upset the people oppressing us. Wouldn’t want to upset the white people, right? How about people just learn to not be assholes and to accept people of all different backgrounds. Separation A) is impossible and B) only furthers the power of the oppressor.

    White people need to stop getting so defensive any time that white people are accused of doing something racist. Put your guard down, read the article with an open mind, and maybe you’ll get more out of it. Instead of reading it as an offended white person, read it as a civilian who understands that they have white privilege and that racism exists. You may not like the fact that you have white privilege and that you’re criticized for it, but you do. Quite frankly, the fact that you think you can turn an article about racism and violence based on racism into an argument about white people being blamed for everything (therefore turning white people into the victims) is an example of your white privilege.

  • Barnes

    What is wrong with this country and the justice system that someone can walk free after taking an African American boy’s life and for these young men to simply be hit with a misdemeanor all because the young man had melanin in his skin? Where people of color can be terrorized and nothing be done about it? How are people of color supposed to ever feel safe when these actions aren’t met with serious repercussions? That is a scary thing to have to live with everyday. Something has got to change. The only fear that I should ever have in my heart is the fear of God, not of man.

  • So many thoughtful comments above. I particularly like the line taken by Emily, Dame about refusing to accept racism in those around us – the so-called “harmless” joke, etc.

    Just to throw another thought in the ring…

    It is actually a bullying problem. How to deal with a bully? Nothing a bully likes better than attention. Even totally negative attention can be a payoff for a bully – it gives them the opportunity to play “victim”, to whoever will listen.

    Why are people racist? Because they get a payoff of some kind… social? emotional? status? control? …
    One thing which is never a payoff is embarrassment. If you can embarrass a racist, go for it.

    I think it’s like dealing with your kids. You have to pick your battles… Pick the ones you know you can win. Try to ignore the rest.

  • This is an excellent post. I’m especially saddened by the fact that the other roommates who may not have been directly involved didn’t step in to help.

    I want you to know that I put a few on your insights on my blog, and linked back to your post. Here is the link:
    http://knowitallblog.tumblr.com/post/68701535512/tortured-bullied-and-tormented-another-black-male