Duke University seems to be in no shortage of racially charged incidents these days. ¹
On May 9th, Duke Political Science professor Jerry Hough became a Twit-stigator (that term won’t stick) for his “noxious” comments on a New York Times article about the riots in Baltimore following the death of Freddie Gray. Repeatedly referring to “the blacks” and “the Asians,” Hough accused the Black community in the United States of being lazy, complacent, and failing to assimilate into “White culture unlike their equally discriminated upon Asian counterparts.”
The issue is whether my comments were largely accurate. In writing me, no one has said I was wrong, just racist. The question is whether I was right or what the nuanced story is since anything in a paragraph is too simple.
He is clearly wrong for so many reasons, and it would take at least three degrees to explain why…
Wait. He has three degrees? From Harvard?!
He’s wrong. Let’s leave it at that.
Unfortunately, we can’t leave. Misguided as he may be, Hough’s assertion about Black resistance to assimilate is a complicated issue that I have experienced firsthand as a multiracial child growing up in Durham, and as a student of now two different historically Black colleges.
Those complications sound very much like this from Mat Johnson, a piece published in the New York Times:
My battle to prove my blackness ended in a truce in adulthood; I became “mixed.” Or rather, like many with my background, I embraced a multiracial approach to identity. I even celebrate Loving Day, the day that commemorates the 1967 Loving v. Virginia Supreme Court ruling legalizing interracial marriage nationwide. My mixed identity isn’t a rejection of my mother or of blackness — it’s an integration of blackness with the rest of who I am. But still, mixed with what?