Even Still I Spit

Yo, I know we pretty much done wit the blogs and stuff, but can I just say–Maybe y’all’ve heard bout the tohubohu surrounding the recent Common debacle. Your Boy actually been dialoguing wit the prez of Stu Org bout it. Dissatisfied wit the response and incapable of placating the miniature cock-diesel provocateur on the inside I couldn’t resist. Anyway: he and I cool now, for now, but the beef still not squashed the way me sees it. Their reasoning just too wrongheaded for my sensibilities; I’m also not all that easy to offend, no lie.

At the backdrop of the Common thing are two things: for one, lyrics to a 2000 song of Common’s lauding Assata Shakur; the other is Obama peacing things up wit Cuba. NJ State Police were all over that like, “We want Assata Shakur”; Cuba, however, say that even if communication lines reopen between US and them, they ain givin up Shakur. Now the situation surrounding Shakur a li’l complicated, but basically she killt a cop durin a stop on NJ Turnpike, bounced to Cuba, been there since. But it’s complicated. For more: read this or this or this.

Now they (Kean) afraid of a media swarm trumping the meaning of Commencement and NJ’s Finest’s refusal to work the event wit Common as speaker on some pretty petty-type stuff, Kean says. (But not in keeping your boy Farahi as figurehead with all his suspect behind credentials? You would think!) Meanwhile: Common performed at Kean just last year for Black History Month, making him the same “problematic” individual this year as last. Stu Org prez tell me that this not just a wholly stu org-sponsored event where they can just waft a hand at criticism at: it was a downstream decree, so they had no choice, so they say. Either way, Kean’s favorable response to police refusing to work an event that has nothing to do with them strikes me as more than dangerous. Can we say coercive isomorphism? Can we say hegemony; or homogeny, the “H” word? Martial Law? I mean, whaddayall think? And whaddayall think about this–

–Princeton got overtly crass raconteur Big Sean coming to perform at one of their upcoming annual outdoor joints and some students upset about it. They’re citing lyrics of Sean’s as misogynistic, homophobic–the same old ass arguments stay being used to criminalize and stigmatize rappers and hip hop culture but not others and theirs. In response to the ire, Princeton prez Chris Eisgruber sent an email; see infra

Dear Students, Faculty, and Staff,  

            Our campus community is in the midst of two impassioned debates about the impact and limits of stage performances.  One debate pertains to the moral culpability of a now-defunct student group “Urban Congo,” a group whose performances were described by its own president as “inexcusably offensive.”  The group has apologized and disbanded.  The second debate addresses the Undergraduate Student Government’s invitation to Big Sean, a rapper whose songs include lyrics that are vile and demeaning to women and LGBT individuals.

             Comedy, satire, and stage performances inevitably transgress boundaries.  The controversies they provoke may be genuinely painful, but they are also fundamental to the life of any great University.  As the faculty of this University affirmed in a statement that it adopted earlier this week, “the University’s fundamental commitment is to the principle that debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even by most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed.  … Indeed, fostering the ability of members of the University community to engage in such debate and deliberation in an effective and responsible manner is an essential part of the University’s educational mission.”

            We must all be mindful, however, that the debates now agitating our campus play out against two backdrops that profoundly affect their impact on the members of our community.  First, these debates occur in a time scarred by searing violence—by, in one case, the discriminatory and sometimes deadly use of force against African-Americans, and, in the other case, the disturbing and damaging incidence of sexual assault on college campuses and throughout society.  Second, they occur in a new era of social media that breeds an insidious combination of hostility, anonymity, and proximity.  In venomous slurs uttered online by anonymous neighbors or classmates, our students see distressing and painful expression within our community of the prejudices and motives that underlie the violence disturbing our nation.

            We owe it to ourselves to do better, to be better, and to embrace all the members of our community with respect and with genuine appreciation for the perspectives they bring.  We must treat individuals, groups, and cultures with the dignity they deserve; we must not traffic in stereotypes.  I accordingly implore all of the Princeton community to live up to our ideals, to recognize the pain being felt by some members of our community, and to express ourselves in the veiled and dehumanized precincts of social media with the same care that we should bring to more personal interactions.

I also invite you to come together in a fuller, more human, and more personal way by joining me this Sunday, April 12, at 2:00 p.m. for a gathering of our campus community in the University Chapel that will provide us all with an opportunity to recognize the obligations we have to understand and care for each other, to affirm the ties that bind us together, and to strengthen the community that we share.  We hope that this gathering will also lay the groundwork for further constructive engagement in the weeks to come, including a faculty panel to be held next week. 

Chris Eisgruber,

President of Princeton University 

Don’t ask how i got, but we don’t even need to conduct a comparative analysis, or anything, of the two aforementioned scenarios to rule out which mo betta. And it not even like I agreed like that with Common as Commencement speaker in the first place because who here even a rapper like that? I can’t even tell you, really, what Commencement really about beyond quaffing too much cerveza con sus hermanos y hermanas because, yo, you just fuckin graduated college, son.

But what I know about college, what is and has been rudimentary to academia since forever, is what Eisgruber said. (Which not to say that I’m or was in congruence wit the #RaceTogether mess Starbucks was pulling. And I don’t know much bout Urban Congo, but it sounded like a minstrel show, and you can miss me wit that mess altogether, actually)

But I am (or would like to) herewith, forthwith, calling a meeting on this this as the implications actually do have something to do wit all of us, and all our warm halcyon virtues.

(…And can I also say that Your Boy been feeling funky as of late. All funkdafied, words like this were borderline impossible to manifest, the legerdemain all off. Even my emails to the prez felt a li’l wonky: all precarious, the words, every one a kerplunk–no cannonball. Maybe that’s trying too hard, how it is sometimes, if you’re a writer, when the writing don’t come the way you’d want-like it to, in swoops rather than requiring C4-grade blasts. Take cover, though–because I’m blowup-tuating right now.)