The Current

Kiese Laymon: My Vassar College faculty ID does not make racism OK

Kiese Laymon is a black college professor. He teaches English at upstate New York's prestigious Vassar College. But his on-campus experience has taught him a lesson in race relations frustration. But perhaps he's lucky, because when he's harassed by security guards and police, he can always flash his Faculty ID card to make everything OK....
Listen25:00
Kiese Laymon is a black college professor. He teaches English at upstate New York's prestigious Vassar College. But his on-campus experience has taught him a lesson in race relations frustration. But perhaps he's lucky, because when he's harassed by security guards and police, he can always flash his Faculty ID card to make everything OK.

michael-brown-mom-insert.jpg

Reuters/Jim Young

I've been here my whole life. I ain't never have to go through nothing like this. Don't none of you know me. But I don't do nothing to nobody. Anybody say so, they're a liar. They're a damn liarMichael Brown's mother, Lesley McSpadden, after the news came down last month that there would be no indictment of the white police officer who shot and killed her unarmed, black son.

Ferguson, Missouri was followed by Staten Island, New York, and Eric Garner's death -- another unarmed black man dead at the hands of another white officer... and another non-indictment.

The twin verdicts have reinforced a sense of outrage and exasperation with the state of race relations country-wide... and focused it on that often-fraught encounter between citizen and cop.

The cases of Michael Brown and Eric Garner have also inspired my next guest to put into words his own account of the institutional racism he's seen during his tenure at one of America's elite colleges.

"My Vassar College Faculty ID Makes Everything OK was written by Kiese Laymon. He is an Associate Professor of English at Vassar College, an essayist and author. He joined us from Poughkeepsie, New York.


The Current requested a statement from Vassar College. The school declined to comment.


This segment was produced by The Current's Shannon Higgins.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.