by Dr. Boyce Watkins, Your Black World
It turns out that pictures were found on the University of Kentucky campus with derogatory language aimed at President Barack Obama. Police are investigating the incident, and a professor said he found one of the pictures hanging in the College of Law of all places. If the police find out who put out the signs, they could be charged with third-degree criminal mischief.
As an alum of The University of Kentucky, the incident doesn’t surprise me. When I was a student there in the 1990s, there were a multitude of racially-charged incidents. In fact, I feared for my life with all the death threats I would receive after writing articles in the campus newspaper (someone even warned me that they spoke heavily of me at a local klan rally). The school’s racial hostility was a great training ground for years later, when I would get death threats from Fox News viewers after sparring with Sean Hannity on television.
In 1996, the black students held a month-long protest after a black female student (Tanya Clay) had a knife put to her throat simply because she’d written a letter stating that she agreed with my columns. At the time, most of the white students hated me and many black people feared me (since my rabble rousing would get them into trouble), for the campus is relatively conservative. Rather than quickly denouncing the Clay incident and dealing with the issue, university administrators (including the black ones) chose to tone it down in order to avoid embarrassment right before the Final Four.
The funny thing about the University of Kentucky (as with many other universities) is that they don’t realize that the racial apples don’t fall far from the tree. The campus still, to this day, doesn’t do a very good job of hiring a diverse faculty, but they are always very good at finding great black basketball players. If the school is not properly teaching students to respect diversity, then how can one expect them to learn it?
In the UK College of Law, the place where one of the derogatory pictures of Obama was found, I remember seeing a picture of all the Law School faculty on the wall. The picture was placed next to another image of all of the janitorial staff. The faculty picture was 100% white, the janitorial one was 100% black. This says a great deal about the University of Kentucky plantation.
Sure, the picture I described was one that I saw in 1993, a full 18 years ago. But the saddest thing about it is that not much has changed since then. Perhaps one day my alma mater will wake up and smell the racism. But then again, denial is always a simple solution.