When I opened my computer Sunday morning and saw Omar Mateen's face staring back at me, the first thing I thought—before the facts had a real chance to register, before the full details of the carnage emerged—was, “He looks kind of hot."
I began writing my column this semester as, simultaneously, a gesture of defiance, an act of solidarity and an exercise in futility. "Defiance" because I have often experienced the pages of The Chronicle and the culture of this campus as inhospitable to—if not actively hostile towards—the voices of marginalized communities.
Living wages and impartial arbitration of grievances—those were the key demands of Duke service workers and allies in 1968, and those are our core demands today. In a January 1968 newsletter titled "Local 77 Closing in on Plantation System," members of the nascent AFSCME Local 77 proudly proclaimed that these demands were close to being met.
This week, adjunct faculty at Duke took the historic step of filing for a union election. The decision comes in response to the administration's ongoing attempts to replace stable, full-time, tenure track jobs with part-time, precarious, low-wage positions.
This year the Human Rights Center at Duke has been hosting a series of public discussions on gentrification, reflecting growing concerns across Durham about the effects of the city's rapid transformation on longtime, low-income and minority residents.
As I write my first column, I am thinking a lot about speech. I am thinking about how an urgent and overdue conversation about racism—on our campus and across our country—has been derailed by a diversionary and duplicitous obsession with the First Amendment. I am thinking about how quickly the conversation has shifted from white supremacy to white fragility—and how this shift is itself an expression of white supremacy.