Noose Hung on Door of Black Columbia University Professor
On October 1, students across the country participated in a "We Are All Jena" walkout to protest the charges against the Jena Six and also to demonstrate solidarity against racial inequalities that are far from eradicated, and further more, whose influence extends far beyond the Deep South. The noose, a chilling representation of an overt form of white supremacy, has returned as a specter of something that never actually went away. "We Are All Jena" has an especially eerie significance for the community at Columbia University where yesterday someone hung a noose from the door of Madonna Constantine, a black professor of psychology and education at Teachers College who focused her scholarly work on racial dynamics and cultural competence in counseling psychology.
This hate crime quickly prompted town halls and protests: of the former, two (one of undergraduates and the other of Teachers College students and faculty) occurred the day the news broke, and of the latter, a rally and press conference occurred last night and a protest is planned for today at 2 pm at 120th street.
This hate incident comes on the heels of another where an unknown person vandalized a bathroom stall in the International Affairs Building with the message, "Attention You pinko Commie Motherfuckers and Arab Towelheads: America will wake up one day and Nuke Mecca, Medina, Tehran, Baghdad, Jakarta, and all the savages in Africa. You will all be fucked! America is for White Europeans."
The concern is not just that a hate crime happened, but rather the institutional sluggishness afterwards. While President Bollinger released a statement to the Columbia Spectator he made no such announcement to the university community at large (nor did he respond to the vandalism). Administrators too, were conspicuously absent for the Teachers College meeting yesterday, prompting an student to ask anonymously, "Do we have to wait for a murder ... for us to get the support we need from the faculty?"
Many students also view this hate crime as part of a greater issue. Columbia College junior and member of Students Promoting Empowerment and Knowledge (SPEaK) Desiree Carver-Thomas told the Spectator,"I've been here two years and this [hate] just seems part of the culture and it's an ugly manifestation of the culture here at Columbia. I'm wanting to get at the root of the culture and the problem rather than chasing after every event that happens on campus because that just runs us ragged."