The Hypocrisy of Diversity

Ashley Samelson, Tufts Daily, Feb. 13, 2007

Every morning, I sit down with a delicious Dewick breakfast, coffee and the Daily. As of late, every morning, I make it to the Viewpoints page and read a heart-warming article about tolerance, diversity and community. Then every morning, I roll my eyes, shut the Daily and reach for a newspaper from the real world. This morning, after reading that not enough white people came to the town meeting and that intro-level English classes should be turned into race relations classes, I have had enough.

As a senior, I have sat through four years of listening to people opine over “race relations” at this school. As a bright-eyed, bushy-tailed freshman, I even used to go to these community meetings or events where President Bacow would show up in our dorm in loafers and a sweater to have a fireside chat about “realizing the potentiality of integrational equalities” and the like. At one of these chats, I came up with an idea for how to make the school more racially integrated. Thinking my idea was fairly straight-forward and rather brilliant, I suggested getting rid of race houses. I don’t think people around here would feel so thrilled about a white, male Protestant house on Professor’s Row, so maybe some people feel that way about an African-American house. Maybe not. But no matter how you feel on the subject, surely race housing is an obstacle to this desired enhanced integration? My idea was not so popular, and after many icy stares, I excused myself.

I envy Ms. David’s optimistic viewpoint. However after four years at Tufts, I have become a full-blown pessimist.

To explain why, I will have to start from the very beginning, and will have to drop a pair of taboo words: affirmative action.

I know that there are many students like myself for whom the college application process was surprising, confusing, blatantly unfair, racist and most of all, embittering. Embittering. That is the key word. I am going to serve it to you frankly: affirmative action undeniably embitters the students who were treated unfairly through the college process in the name of racial preferences, diversity quotas and tolerance, whichever words you want to use to dress it up and make it sound politically pleasing.

Disagree? Well, let’s not forget the very issue from whence this controversial Primary Source carol sprang: affirmative action [See story below]. While I am not going to excuse for one second the tastelessness and hyperbole that characterized the carol, I will say that the message or complaint that the Source writers were poorly attempting to decry is a valid one with which many students at this school struggle. For those of you who think I stand alone in these opinions, you need to understand that there are a lot of students, liberal and conservative, white, black or purple, who don’t like affirmative action. Whether it’s the pure racial delineations or the stigmas that come hand in hand with its admissions practice, it is the issue itself that breeds the anger and bitterness that was seen in the carol.

{snip}

When I came to Tufts as a freshman from a primarily white, evangelical town in Colorado, I was surprised to see the racial behavior here.

I had presumed that I was entering an elite world of educated, diverse exchange. I had never before heard anyone use the n-word in casual conversation, I had never seen a swastika drawn on a bathroom wall, I had never heard of an Arab and a Jew getting into a drunken altercation, and I never imagined that the guy living below me would assault a black policewoman physically and verbally.

Well I am no longer naive, and have seen more racism on this campus than anywhere in my life.

I realize now that there will always be ignorant people who spew epithets and there will always be that angry fool who etches a swastika into the wall. The sort of racism bred from ignorance will never go away. The question becomes, then, how best do we fight it?

{snip}

Perhaps it is time that everyone realizes, just for a minute, that the first time anyone at this school sees you through a racial filter is the moment your application file is opened.

Why, you might ask, after countless diversity and tolerance viewpoints do I reach for a newspaper from the real world?

Because perhaps I am still optimistic enough to believe that in the “real world,” I will not fall into a success calculation that includes my white skin or the black skin of the human being sitting next to me.

I would like to think that it is a battle of wits and intelligence out there, and that my days of checking the Caucasian box are over.

-Ashley Samelson is a senior majoring in political science and Spanish.


An editor at a Tufts University conservative journal has apologized for publishing a satirical Christmas carol that ridiculed black students and campus affirmative action policies.

The controversial carol, entitled, “O Come All Ye Black Folk,” was published in the most recent edition of the Primary Source, which bills itself as “the journal of conservative thought at Tufts University.”

The parody of “O Come All Ye Faithful” calls black people “boisterous” and proclaims, “Born into the ghetto. O Jesus! We need you now to fill our racial quotas.”

The lyrics also say, “No matter what your grades are, F’s, D’s or G’s, give them all privileged status.”

Douglas Kingman, the journal’s news editor, said the satire was intended to call attention to affirmative action policies that he and other magazine staffers feel are unfair.

“The Primary Source regrets that the purpose of the carol was not clearly communicated. The carol was intended as a satirical criticism of affirmative action and was, in fact, intended as an anti-racist statement,” Kingman said in e-mailed press release.

In a subsequent interview with The Associated Press, Kingman acknowledged that some students may have been offended or hurt by the lyrics.

“We’re sorry,” he said. “Our purpose was not to be hurtful or offend individuals.”

{snip}

About 8,500 students are enrolled at Tufts, with black students composing about 7 percent of the undergraduate population. The university, which straddles the boundary between Somerville and Medford, is known for its liberal arts, science and engineering programs.

The controversy prompted a campus government meeting Sunday night at which some students called on the university to stop providing funds to the Primary Source.

{snip}

The Affirmative Action Christmas Carol Satire:

O Come All Ye Black Folk (sung to the tune of O Come All Ye Faithful)

O Come All Ye Black Folk

Boisterous, yet desirable

O come ye, O come ye to our university

Come and we will admit you,

Born in to oppression;

O come, let us accept them,

O come, let us accept them,

O come, let us accept them,

Fifty-Two black freshmen.

O sing, gospel choirs,

We will accept your children,

No matter what your grades are F’s D’s or G’s

Give them privileged status; We will welcome all.

O come, let us accept them,

O come, let us accept them,

O come, let us accept them,

Fifty-Two black freshmen.

All come! Blacks, we need you,

Born into the ghetto.

O Jesus! We need you now to fill our racial quotas.

Descendents of Africa, with brown skin arriving:

O come, let us accept them,

O come, let us accept them,

O come, let us accept them,

Fifty-two black freshmen

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