Tag Archives: Not in Our Town

Why is the White doll the good doll?

Why is the white doll the good doll? In a study of kindergarten children, both black children and white children chose the white doll as their favorite.

Blacks and whites alike have been programmed since birth to think that whites are better. Black children are taught to be aware of their behavior at all times, because of possible danger, while white kids have the privilege of just being kids.

Tonight (Monday, December 2, at 7:30 p.m.)  I will join Debra Raines, Director of Mission Advancement at the Princeton YWCA, in facilitating another in the series of Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege at the Princeton Public Library.

Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege are a friendly, safe, confidential opportunity to share ideas and voice concerns. They are planned and facilitated by Not in Our Town Princeton and held on first Mondays, from October through May, in partnership with the Princeton Public Library.
We will consider the particular cases of two men and two women. The  men: George Zimmerman (trigger happy and violent against both blacks and stinneywomen) and George Stinney  (at left, 14, the youngest male executed in the 20th century). Also the case of Eleanor Bumpers (fatally shot in New York in 1984 during an attempted eviction)  and Reneisha McBride (shot by a Detroit man when she knocked on his door in the middle of the night.)
Then we will discuss what you THINK is helping
and what you think is HURTING. What is your role on either side?
All are invited — we meet in one of the conference rooms on the second floor, either the Princeton room or the board room.
(This post first appeared on the Not in Our Town Princeton blog).

Orange and Black – and White Privilege

Hall of Privilege: The Mathey College Common Room includes a fireplace dedicated to a Rockefeller, Laurence, Class of 1932

“Unpleasant social encounters resulting from white privileges and preferences became a boot camp for survival,” said an African American, Robert J. Rivers, who grew up in Princeton, In 1953 he was one of the first African Americans to graduate from Princeton University. Many would say that “unpleasant social encounters” never happen today, but I’ll bet most of those deniers are white.

Rivers credits the desegregation pioneers, including Frank Broderick, Class of ’43 and editor of the Princetonian, who attacked the social and emotional hypocrisy of fighting for “democracy” without admitting black students.

Andrew Hatcher, who grew up in Princeton, was refused admission, and later became President Kennedy’s associate press secretary.

Dean Carl Fields (after whom the Fields Center is named) who set up ‘home away from home’ families for black students.

Photo by Roland Glover

George Reeves, camp cook at Blairstown and grandfather of Jim Floyd, who graduated from Princeton in 1969. In the picture, he is shown with graduating PHS seniors Sam Nelson, Juan Polanco, and Jacklyn Adebayo, who received Unity Awards from Not in Our Town last month. (Floyd was so impressed by their accomplishments that he offered an additional gift toward their books at college.)

The speaker,  Rivers,  was one of three black students in a class of 700 in September, 1949. His account of the segregation and desegregation at this university, delivered at the Pan African Graduation in 2008, is an eye-opener. (This year’s event is Sunday, June 2 and I learned about this speech from a Facebook post from the Center for African American Studies.)

He concluded his speech in 2008 with appreciative words: But 55 years later, I count my blessings because I have been richly rewarded by unpredictable opportunities – and Princeton has changed.

Yet 55 years later, remnants of past attitudes emerge, as documented in Looking Back: Reflections of Black Princeton Alumni. Whites still have privileges that minorities do not.

On Commencement Eve, Not in Our Town will host Continuing Conversations on Race at Princeton Public Library. That’s Monday, June 4, at 7:30 p.m. In a discussion entitled Tongue Tied? Rehearse What to Say, we will talk about how to have a meaningful dialogue with people who have differing views about race and white privilege. You are invited.

Speak . . . For Your President is Listening

Princeton University’s new president, Christopher Eisgruber, tells an Associated Press reporter , Geoff Mulvihill, that Princeton is a warmer place than it used to be (thanks in part to more ‘inclusiveness’ among students). He lauds the idea of a liberal arts education versus a job training period. (Andrew Delbanco’s book, just out in paperback, College: What Was, Is, and Should Be, takes the same tack.)Yet Eisgruber regrets that current students can’t share the experiences he had when arrived as a freshman in 1979, and here I’m quoting Mulvihill: 

‘Full faculty members sometimes served as discussion leaders for colleagues’ classes, it was more common for non-recruited athletes to walk on and join sports teams, and students weren’t so competitive from the moment they arrived on campus. But the last part, he said, is unlikely to change.’

In Not in Our Town discussions (NIOT holds discussions. ‘Continuing Conversations,’ on first Mondays at 7:30 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library),  that very subject — aggressive competitiveness — has come up several times. These discussions are open to the public but are “private,” not divulged afterwards. 

However, one of the discussion moderators, Roberto Schiraldi, published several documents on the NIOT blog. Schiraldi has retired from a job as a Princeton University counselor. He shared an open letter to the current university president, Shirley Tilghman, He also posted part of a paper, A White Man on the REZ: “Higher” Education In A Culture of Fear: A Journey Through Alienation and Privilege to Healing

The question: Have student values of competition — getting the best grades and the best job — superseded  humanistic values? 

The future president of Princeton University says he plans to “just listen” during his first year in office. If Eisgruber is listening, now is the time to speak.

Questioning the Values of the Establishment

Achieve Achieve Achieve? Maybe competing for good grades is not a good enough value, said New York Times columnist David Brooks, speaking to a Princeton University audience last week. He said he was disappointed that university students — whom he famously criticized a decade ago for being overly competitive — still place too much emphasis on achievement. “The language of achievement has overshadowed the language of virtue,” he said.

Many of the same views are held by Roberto Schiraldi, a counselor and therapist who formerly worked at Princeton University. He contrasts the values of elitism, power, wealth and control with the values of cooperation, sharing, support, and service. He questions what Princeton students and residents hold as core values and how these values relate to white privilege and race. 
Schiraldi and Barbara Fox will facilitate a discussion at the monthly session, co-sponsored by Not in Our Town, of Continuing Conversations on Race and White Privilege, on Monday, December 3, at 7:30 p.m. at the Princeton Public Library. All are welcome.