Gregory Hood, American Renaissance, May 14, 2018
College graduation is one of the few remaining traditional rites of passage. From the archaic caps and gowns to Latin phrases, students are reminded they are simply the latest participants in a never-ending conversation, the endless quest for knowledge that defines the West’s universities.
At least, that’s what used to define them. Today, many university departments suffer under a multicultural dogma more restrictive and indefensible than anything from higher education’s medieval beginnings. This obscurantism is pushing scholarship backwards in many fields. It is therefore not surprising that even the solemn ritual of graduation has become another casualty of diversity.
This year at the University of Florida, the ceremony was slowed down when black students began dancing on stage after they got their diplomas. A school official physically forced them to move along so the ceremony could continue. Black students protested on social media and countless mainstream media outlets echoed their outrage. The school apologized, but critics are calling for an “inquiry.” The white staffer who moved the students along will be lucky if he keeps his job.
Of course, dancing on stage when you get your diploma is profoundly selfish because it holds up the ceremony for everyone else. This is why schools don’t like it. This is also why they usually ask parents to hold their applause until the end. As anyone who has attended a recent graduation ceremony can testify, blacks are likely to flout these cultural norms, and scream whenever their family member is named. University of Florida is not the first school where officials tried to maintain decorum only to be accused of “racism.”
For example, at Senatobia High School in Mississippi in 2015, three black family members of a graduating student were charged with disturbing the peace. Despite a request not to cheer until the end of the ceremony, they began screaming when their child was named. Superintendent Jay Foster, a white man who swore out the warrants, said he took action because for years, graduations had been like the Jerry Springer Show. “It was who can be the loudest — who can take the attention away from the kids the most.” He added that parents were complaining that the graduation ceremony was ruined for people who couldn’t even hear their child’s name announced because of the din.
Of course, the sight of a white school official in Mississippi invoking the law against the family of a black graduating student was too much for the media. The New York Times, Daily Mail, Huffington Post, and innumerable other outlets slammed Superintendent Foster.
The ACLU weighed in, calling it a violation of the First Amendment. Mr. Foster dropped the charges, but insisted he had done the right thing, saying he had received support from the community for a ceremony that had “dignity.” Linda Walker, the mother of one of those arrested, said she was still angry because “he done got my baby’s name all over the world.” “I’m not done with him,” she added, vowing legal action. (No news coverage suggests anything further happened, and Mr. Foster appears still to have his job.)
In 2014, at South Florence High School, Shannon Cooper, a black woman, was arrested for cheering at the graduation. “Police said it was announced before the ceremony that anyone who cheered or screamed would be escorted out of the building,” reported the local ABC affiliate. Miss Cooper said the charges were unjust. “What’s the disorderly conduct?” she wanted to know.
In 2015, Anthony Cornist, a young black man, was denied his high school diploma until he performed community service because of excessive cheering. Mr. Cornist himself did nothing wrong. Video of the incident shows him calmly moving across the stage shaking hands. He makes no gesture or flourish to incite the crowd. However, his family’s continued screaming disrupted the ceremony.
School officials said without the threat of forced community service for graduates — explained to families beforehand and confirmed in a signed agreement — there was no way to control the ceremony. Mt. Healthy City Schools superintendent Lori Handler (a white woman) defended the policy and said families thanked her after the ceremony for preventing excessive screaming. Nonetheless, Miss Handler became a media target. Anthony Cornist and his mother appeared on the Jimmy Kimmel show, where the left-wing host encouraged enthusiastic cheering for the student and told the audience to boo Miss Handler. To Mr. Kimmel’s approval, Mr. Cornist said he would refuse to do the community service. Though it may be a coincidence, Miss Handler has since retired and was replaced by a non-white.
This pattern of black defiance, white enforcement, and media outrage may remind readers of the recent Starbucks incident. A white manager was vilified for calling the police on blacks who refused to buy anything or to leave the store. Generally, whites obey a request to buy something or leave, and will certainly not receive media sympathy if they refuse and are arrested. In contrast, blacks know they will get media sympathy if they can position themselves as victims. They have no reason to obey instructions or respect cultural norms in what they think of as “white spaces.”
For the same reason, blacks have no reason to listen to requests or even demands to maintain decorum at a graduation. In most cases, their screaming will be grudgingly tolerated, since white parents don’t want to be called racist. If blacks are punished, it can make the news and blacks will get sympathy and support from national organizations. Whites can expect to be demonized.
Some blacks understand the problem. In 2012, Demetria Irwin wrote in the black publication The Grio about black graduation behavior. “Some have said that law enforcement and school administrators need to just get used to over-zealous families because of dismal high school graduation rates in the black community,” she wrote, suggesting blacks see graduation as a bigger deal than whites because blacks face more obstacles. Still, she also wrote that “a graduation of a loved one is not a pass to act the fool,” urging that everyone “be as respectful of other people’s graduates as one’s own.” However, her “solution” was: “[D]on’t call the cops — just do what has been done for ages. Give a side-eye to the offender, mumble something sarcastic to your cousin and scream like you’re on a roller coaster when your baby walks across the stage.”
The real solution is what many blacks themselves seem to want: separate ceremonies. These are already taking place around the country. The first exclusively black commencement at Harvard was held last year, with speeches honoring African-American heritage and students wearing kente cloth. Video from the event suggests a culture far different than that traditionally associated with Harvard:
Other schools are also hosting similar ceremonies for non-whites, as well as sexual minorities. These include Columbia, Temple, University of Pennsylvania, and Stanford. Ohio University has a special ceremony called Kushinda for blacks, Hispanics, and Amerindians. The New York Times called these segregated ceremonies ways for schools to “celebrate diversity.” They also whip up resentment. At Harvard, a professor of African and African-American history invoked Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown to inspire students to “wrest some semblance of justice from these tragedies.”
Some conservatives, such as Amanda Prestigiacomo at the Daily Wire, complain that this is “segregation.” In fact, these ceremonies are usually in addition to the general graduation. The real problem is that white students are denied their own celebration. Special ceremonies for non-whites also do not solve the problem of non-whites disrupting what is supposed to be a solemn rite of passage.
Once desegregation is presumed to be an end in itself, it is hard to uphold white norms. Most whites find it unacceptable to scream during graduation, nor do they think it extraordinary that a family member finished high school or college. Blacks have different expectations and ways of expressing pride in graduates.
Whites should not resent black behavior. Instead, they should recognize there is no way to maintain white standards after integration. Whites should have their own ceremonies like other groups. This would allow them to congratulate their loved ones in a style that honors the Western tradition.
Why would anyone object? As Dr. Nate Norment, Chair of African-American studies at Temple said of black ceremonies, “You can affirm your culture without being anti anyone else.” If this is true for blacks, it is true for whites. Meanwhile, blacks can have a boisterous ceremony with kente cloth and anything else they want.
The universal ceremony that honors the student body as a whole should either be abandoned or cut short. Such a ceremony relies on shared expectations of behavior absent in a mixed-race society. Meaningful segregated ceremonies and a quick, desegregated, pro forma ritual would be best way to reduce these tensions.
Of course, if graduations go better apart, the same is true of education — and of life itself. Unfortunately, because of judicial corruption, Americans are forced into desegregated schools few people of any race seem actually to want. Separate graduation ceremonies that are meaningful and sacred rituals to people of each race could be the beginning of a solution. The conduct of non-whites suggests the races co-exist best when each is given the freedom to be true to its own traditions and culture. The best way Americans of all races can celebrate, learn, or live together is to be allowed to stay apart.