We have been following cases involving faculty disciplined or fired over the use of the n-word in classes (including courses on racism) or tests. Recently, a GW professor was removed from his class for such a reference. Now, “Down in Mississippi,” a play written by African American writer Carlyle Brown on the birth of the civil rights movement, has been reportedly canceled. Students objected to the use of the n-word in a play that tries to capture the environment of hate and racism of the period. Texas Wesleyan’s Black Student Association declared the reference to be harmful and “triggering.”
Calling for a boycott, the Association declared that allowing the play to be heard would “further hurt Black students and possibly students from other marginalized communities.”
The Rambler student newspaper reported that school and theater officials killed the production after a 90-minute campus discussion: “The main concern the students voiced was the ‘triggering’ effect of using the racially explicit word, which is repeated 11 separate times throughout the play, and how it can cause trauma to the black students in the audience.”
The decision of the school, in my view, is wrong and counterproductive. I have not read the play but the objection was to any use of this word. Yet, the use in the play is clearly tied to the period, a vivid (and disturbing) picture of what African Americans faced at the start of the Civil Rights period.
Ironically, the removal of such words can reduce the repellent elements associated with racists of the period. Brown sought to present racism in its raw and accurate context. It is also an attack on artistic expression — a trend that threatens the freedom of expression on campuses. We have seen a movement to remove major literary works like “To Kill a Mockingbird” from libraries due to the use of the word and some editors are removing references from such works.
Brown would likely argue that his work is meant to be triggering for viewers in seeing and hearing raw examples of racism. In a play on the start of the Civil Rights movement, the intent was clearly to capture a true and accurate depiction of the conditions that led to this historic movement. To demand that he sanitize the language is to deny his artistic and historical intent.
76 thoughts on “Black Playwright Canceled at Texas Wesleyan University Due to Use of N-Word by Character”
I thought “We don’t ban books in America” and “all books belong in libraries.”
Well, folks, you’d better go buy Blazing Saddles while you still can.
Do the same students who canceled the play over the use of the N word, to portray the culturally acceptable racism of the 1960s, seek to cancel 100% of rap music, for which the N word is ubiquitous? Do they follow black people around and harass them, or get them fired, for using the N word in their private life?
Why does the Left view the academic use of the N word the same as a Klansman calling a black man the N word? That requires a total suspension of reason.
There are many academic instances where the N word should be discussed, including cultural anthropology and literature classes, as well as law classes.
How can people claim they are offended by hearing the N word in any context in public or school, yet they can turn on a radio without crashing their car when A$AP Rocky or Chance the Rapper come on? I’m guessing they’re not fans of throwback NWA songs?
How can one word be illegal for any race except black people to use? How can a black playwright be punished for using a word ubiquitous in black culture? Why is it OK for black rappers to belt out N words, but Asian rappers like Nav get pummeled?
And, black people, the N word is demeaning, so why don’t you let it fall out of use? A great many racist or derogatory sayings haven’t been used for 100 years, or more, and their meanings have been totally lost. Why wasn’t the N word abandoned, so it could become a footnote in history books?
These children are insufferable but it is the adults fault for caving time after time. I’m guessing that the author is shocked that his own crowd, liberal in choosing political sides, would cancel a good and faithful fellow liberal. It takes a heart of stone not to laugh when the left eats their own. I would mention Robespierre but these dimwits would not know what I am referring to because it relates to something that happened pre-instagram and tic-toc.
Speaking of students indulging their feelings and administrators appeasing them:
“In the field of organic chemistry, Maitland Jones Jr. has a storied reputation. He taught the subject for decades, first at Princeton and then at New York University, and wrote an influential textbook. He received awards for his teaching, as well as recognition as one of N.Y.U.’s coolest professors.
“But last spring, as the campus emerged from pandemic restrictions, 82 of his 350 students signed a petition against him.
“Students said the high-stakes course [Organic Chemistry!] — notorious for ending many a dream of medical school — was too hard, blaming Dr. Jones for their poor test scores.
“The professor defended his standards. But just before the start of the fall semester, university deans terminated Dr. Jones’s contract.”
Sam, To your point, I agree completely. One of my college professors stopped me after class and asked to speak with me. I remained. She told me that I was lacking skills to complete the coursework required in her senior level class. Fortunately, she was one of those rare teachers who offered to help bring me up to speed. It took a lot of extra work but I finally made it through with a decent grade and I learned a lot from her. She told me, “You have been cheated! You either did it to yourself or you had teachers who let you slide by when they should have failed you or better yet challenged you to do better.”
I have not forgotten her words. Though challenging, Organic Chemistry is one of those cornerstone classes upon which rests further scientific learning. It the students are allowed to skate by such a professor, they will find themselves lacking in future classes and when they are required to read scientific journals and chart notes on the fly.
There is a good reason that students are sorted at the undergraduate level. If they cannot make it there, they will fail in their graduate work. If they manage to slide through their graduate work with this ethic, they will likely fail during their board examinations.
“Fortunately, she was one of those rare teachers who offered to help bring me up to speed.”
The bitter irony is that, as one can see in the full NYT story, Professor Jones went above and beyond to help those struggling in his course.
When you think of the black activists who changed laws and society, people like MLK, Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Malcomb X, etc. — these activists lived with the real N-word thrown in their faces daily. And yet, somehow, they rose above it and changed their world. The sniveling brats who inhabit today’s colleges will change nothing. And when their cult is gone, as all cults eventually end, they will be exposed for the simpletons and fools they are.
Again, administrators demonstrate to have no backbone. They cave immediately when a special interest group claims to be hurt, even if that is highly unlikely. Growing up means getting tough. Life is not easy. Accommodating each and every complaint of imaginary, unsubstantiated hurt is counter productive for raising a resilient next generation that can lead the country at some point in the future. Why do we listen to a bunch of unaccomplished students, who never held a paying job in their lives (yet), did not raise a family, or contributed a into of value to society?
I take a consistent position on such foolishness. Students are guest of the institution they attend. They asked to be allowed to attend, study, and learn there. Their request for admission was accepted and these students paid many thousands of dollars to seal the deal. Students are there to learn. Any activity by them that disrupts the educational process should result in immediate consequences. One warning followed by immediate expulsion for a second offense. As a student you don’t make policy, or rules. You follow them. Going to work and going to school have a few things in common. You are not forced to “go” to either and it is often better to leave voluntarily, than to be escorted off the property.
Sure sign of cultish behavior: they all use the same “cult-speak.” “Further hurt Black students”; “disproportionately harm POCs” — this is the key excuse that allows them to jump right to the easy, lazy path of cancellation. These mental midgets will graduate at the same intellectually inferior level they were when they entered college. No growth in 4 years, and they’ll leave with an armory of grievances that will last them a lifetime — a wasted lifetime.
This is yet another example of a tiny, yet very vocal, cadre of activists who shove their agenda in the face of the populous. If this is used in context then it might serve to teach an upcoming generation the accomplishments of great leaders who stood their ground against injustice.
“The only thing we have learned from history is that we learn nothing from history.” Hegel
“Now there rose up a king in Egypt that knew not Joseph.” Exodus 1:8
The troubles endured by the Hebrew nation in Egypt began when the pharaoh of the new dynasty had no understanding of the contributions Joseph had made to Egypt past. No historical perspective.
This serves as a warning to those who advocate canceling and rewriting history. The roots of a nation, pleasant or unpleasant serve to teach. What about the hundreds of thousands of youth and elders alike who endured misery and perished in the Civil War? Was that in vain? These are complex issues and we get through them, learn from them, and move on. But we don’t do it through tyranny or else we fall back into the quagmire of what history teaches will lead to pain and suffering.
You can send them to college, but you can’t make them think.
A play that takes place during the Civil Rights Era that sanitizes the language would be no more historically accurate than one from the same period where at least 3/4 of the characters aren’t portrayed as smoking like chimneys.
I seriously doubt they are triggered at all. What is more likely is this is a power move. Once an administration, whether in government or at a university, caves to a special interest group, then that group will demand even more. (Check the playlists on their phones)
Agreed with you on this, Turley. At least in how you’ve reported it. I suspect the 90 min meeting was lively.
My Irish ancestors fell prey to a different kind of slavery – indentured servitude, a situation that isn’t even acknowledged by the woke. The ignorance on display at our modern universities used to be the stuff of parody. Shameful, and counterproductive in the extreme.
When rappers use the “word that shall not be spoken!!” is that triggering, too?
It perpetuates the insularity of the black ghetto. That I have to listen it blasting from a rolling Jukebox but the whole world crumbles if I were to utter the word, is insane. My solution is avoidance. Like moving somewhere that is 98% white, and voting to keep it that way.
I am from Fort Worth and attended TCU there at the beginning of the Civil Rights movement. I was there when the first year a black student attended. Texas Wesleyan is only a few miles down the road. I don’t think I will live long enough to understand the thinking of the WOK crowd infecting our halls of higher education, and I genuinely hate to see it coming to my hometown. Since when does the attitude of “don’t expose me to the way history was because I might get my panties in the bunch and be offended?” These members of the WOK movement are just a Band of Sissy’s that want to live under a rock, so they will never ruffle their feathers by learning something of our past. Scaredy-Cats, shaking in the dark. What a shame. Oh!! I hope my little message didn’t offend someone! Too bad. Grow up.
Is not the N word protected Free Speech?
Apparently only blacks are allowed to use it.
zzclancy………”Apparently only blacks are allowed to use it.”
–except for black playwrights!
Whiney, pre-programed losers, get over yourself. If you can’t hear a certain word without clutching your pearls, it indicates that you are not mature and educated enough to be at a University. This is just one of many, many, result of affirmative action and a polluted education/media industry.
The near absolute erasure of the N word, even in private life, only adds an exaggerated potency to a word, which stifles learning from real historical contexts, then and now.
We are led to believe that black people are strong. But this folding to a word is a sign of weakness.