So, a young black man is murdered on the Harvard campus by another young black man; a black female Harvard student is kicked off campus as a result, and charges racism. Can you spot the elephant in this Ivy room?
If you said "Race," you are the winner of a black-and-white cookie! Let's face it: any highly publicized incident involving black people in white academia has a racial subtext; in the Ivy League, more so; at Harvard, more so; and when Harvard starts being charged with racism for kicking out a black student in connection with a campus murder, no, you did not imagine that faint whiff of racial overtones, undertones, and mid-tones.
Quick factual recap: 21 year-old Justin Cosby was shot to death in the basement of a Harvard dorm. He was found carrying a pound of weed and $1,000 cash. Jabrai Jordan Copney, an out-of-towner, was charged with killing him. Harvard senior Chanequa Campbell (pictured) was friendly with Copney, and was barred from graduating as a result of her connection to the crime; she charged it was because "I'm black and I'm poor and I'm from New York and I walk a certain way and I keep my clothes a certain way."
Now a former Harvard student has written an article called "Why Black Harvard Won't Speak Up For Chanequa." Its thesis: Although Harvard's black community usually reacts strongly to racially charged issues on campus, they didn't in this case. That's because they're not so sure Chanequa Campbell is all that innocent, allegedly!
Campbell was active in Harvard's Black community. She was a member of the Black Students Association and Association of Black Harvard Women, and participated in the production of the annual fashion show put on by Harvard's Black Community and Student Theater (BlackCAST), and the Tribute to Black Men awards dinner. However, Campbell was dogged by persistent rumors that she was involved in campus drug dealing, rumors which, in light of the murder, have done little to help her credibility with fellow students.
"People are pretty sure she did something, they just don't know what," said a Black classmate in Campbell's graduating class, who requested anonymity. "We can't rally behind somebody we don't necessarily believe in."
Now, we should keep in mind: the fact that someone is black, and a classmate of yours in college, does not necessarily mean that they represent any greater "community," or, indeed, anything more than their own opinion. A surprising number of people forget this! (Until you go on vacation in France or some shit and somebody asks you to justify George W. Bush's foreign policy. You're an American! This is a rough parallel, for white people). That said, the writer, Ashton Lattimore, didn't have too much trouble finding at least one person ready to scoff at Campbell's allegations of racism:
"Students feel, to some degree, like she's trying to sell Black people up the river," Campbell's classmate said. "It's like she gets busted, and suddenly it's a fight for freedom. People feel like she thought she was going to get Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton up here, and all she got was a bunch of n****s looking at her like, ‘What the hell is wrong with you?'"
The story also hints that black student groups don't want to risk their own political capital backing a student who might really be guilty of something bad, which could jeopardize their own standing. But who knows?
So, it's good somebody wrote this story, so we can talk about it now, and then stop talking about it! If Chanequa Campbell's really not guilty of anything, then everybody should rally to her defense; if she is guilty of maybe having shady friends or helping to sell weed or whatever, hey, that's college for you. As long as she's not truly responsible for the killing, she's just another college kid who fucked up. Her fuckup just had more awful consequences.
[News One. Pic via]