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A Pound of Flesh: post 9/11 racism at an American university
20 set 2010
In 1990 I was a senior in high school involved in peaceful political protests with local college students. We committed an act of property destruction in the form of arson on an office at Wesleyan University as part of those protests. This wasn't anti-American just the misguided attempt of American students to get equal treatment as American citizens. It was a student protest, not war or terrorism.
Following the arson I was caught, convicted as an adult and served my time. From then on I stopped associating with radicals or extremists. By 31 I'd become a happy Buddhist, applied for school and was accepted to the University of Connecticut. As a person of mixed race (Indian and White) I shrugged my shoulders and started living with whatever racial gains we had already made in this country. So began my story of post 9/11 racism.





In the fall of 2003 I began my sophomore year at UConn's Landscape Architecture program. There was one professor who enjoyed occasionally razzing me in what at first seemed innocuous harassment. For example the two of us might be discussing a design and he'd throw in, "I mean I wouldn't firebomb it or anything." But, then one day while passing behind me at my desk this professor named stopped behind me, put a hand on my shoulder and with his other hand jabbed his fingers into my lower back 3 or four times repeatedly. He the said nothing and walked away. I didn't complain or go to the police as I was scared of retribution. Bad move on my part.


By junior year the behavior had escalated beyond the one professor. A campaign to paint me as an Islamic terrorist had effectively isolated me from many of my peers. In order to deflect problems similar to mine which might arise out of socializing with me many classmates would avoid or ignore me. This way professor Alexopoulis and his conscripts could save the harassment for me alone.

First semester senior year things got even worse. I had become a person who spent all his time consumed with how I was going to make it out of there with my degree intact. Every project seemed tinged with a new get the sand nigger twist all carried out using America´s favorite form of racism - the indirect, subtle and "no too blatant" kind. This way the persons carrying it out could squeal amongst themselves with orgasmic delight at the idea they wouldn't get caught. "How delicious!"

One Professor, Peter Miniutti, put his class in charge of developing a departmental newsletter. I chose to do an article on Eddie George an ex-pro football star, holder of a degree in landscape architecture and owner of two landscape architecture firms. I figured it was a light way to discuss minorities in landscape architecture as he's also African American. After interviewing him I wrote my article using as much of his own words as possible. However, I kept getting my drafts handed back to me with explanations like Eddie George sounds "uneducated" and "unprofessional." This evolved to "the whole class" making the decision to have me do an article focusing more on the class at UCONN. According to them, Eddie George (an African American landscape architect and owner of two landscape architecture firms) had nothing to do with minorities in landscape architecture.

At the beginning of the semester we were told everyone would get an A except those who were deemed to have failed the project. It wasn't hard to see where this was headed. I shared my article with a Pulitzer Prize winning English professor and who said it was basically fine. That was not good enough either. I told the people attempting to block my article if it was rejected I would go over their heads and above the department. The article got in but with only two quotes from Eddie George.

As a final shot from "the whole class" when the newsletter came out Eddie George´s picture was replaced by this picture of one of my classmates – Eduardo Colon. As a final shot from professor Miniutti, when commenting on the articles we handed him, he said my listing myself as biracial sounded like bisexual. He then laughed uproariously in a manner insinuating an insult to my racial classification. Of course he was simultaneously insulting all non- heterosexuals as well. He didn't seem to care. If you'd like to judge the interview for yourself go to the audio page at www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.

After my surreal adventures in this pin the tail on Osama racism at UConn I made it to the homestretch – my final semester senior year; however, after never having dropped below a B- in my grades and staying on the Deans List my first three semesters at UCONN Professor Miniutti decided my work was not “senior level work” meaning I was going to fail - not to graduate. I strove to improve the quality of my work. The more I would ask for help the less I got. By the last project I was in the same position. My mother and I wrote letters to the Dean and also to the Head of the Plant Science Department. The work was suddenly, "senior level work."

There is a more in depth recounting of events at www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com plus audio and video proof. For anyone going through it currently just know there are options. You should also know you are right. Your harasser's are wrong no matter how they try to spin it. One of my main concerns when looking at how this affects me is how my peers´ and future coworkers views of me are now distorted and tainted. I suffer post traumatic stress symptoms such as panic attacks. My only solace comes in exposing them.
   
    Here's what I've learned. Violence only begets more violence. How we treat each other as Americans is an indication of how secure we feel with our country's current situation. It's obvious the goal of the 9/11 terrorists was to make us feel afraid and panicked as Americans. If you harass your Pakistani American, Indian American, Bosnian American or any other American brother or sister due to fears stemming from terrorist attacks you have been effectively terrorized. It's been said by members of the K.K.K. "the only good nigger is a dead nigger." If the 9/11 terrorists had a similar saying I believe it would say, "the only good American is a panicked American." The only good America is one that's eating himself from the inside shredding his own constitution from all sides.

    Can Americans survive with that happening? Me? I'm going make the most patriotic decision I can think of. I'm talking about it because in my heart I know I must prevent this from happening to another person and if I work hard perhaps I can. In this article is a link to my web site and I ask anyone who will to help me get the university president to sit down with me to work out a way to prevent this from happening to anyone else in the future. I'm not looking for money here at all just your help by writing an email to the president of the university via the link on the contacts page of my web site. I hope you won't find that request too unreasonable and will help me. Thanks so much and may your life be filled with peace.

    To read more about my experiences with harassment go to www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com.
Mira també:
http://www.lawsuitagainstuconn.com

This work is in the public domain
Sindicat Terrassa