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Wed Feb 24, 2021, 06:44 PM

Inside a Battle Over Race, Class and Power at Smith College

This is a long article that unwinds some of what followed from the 2018 incident in which Oumou Kanoute, a Black student at Smith College said 'she was eating lunch in a dorm lounge when a janitor and a campus police officer walked over and asked her what she was doing there.'

She wrote about the incident on her facebook: 'some people question my being at Smith College, and my existence overall as a woman of color.' She also wrote: “This is the racist person,” .....of Ms. Blair [who was never involved in the incident], adding that Mr. Patenaude too was guilty. (He in fact worked an early shift that day and had already gone home at the time of the incident.) Ms. Kanoute also lashed the Smith administration. “They’re essentially enabling racist, cowardly acts.”

From the article: Less attention was paid three months later when a law firm hired by Smith College to investigate the episode found no persuasive evidence of bias. Ms. Kanoute was determined to have eaten in a deserted dorm that had been closed for the summer; the janitor had been encouraged to notify security if he saw unauthorized people there. The officer, like all campus police, was unarmed.


Rahsaan Hall, racial justice director for the A.C.L.U. of Massachusetts and Ms. Kanoute’s lawyer, cautioned against drawing too much from the investigative report, as subconscious bias is difficult to prove. Nor was he particularly sympathetic to the accused workers.

“It’s troubling that people are more offended by being called racist than by the actual racism in our society,” he said. “Allegations of being racist, even getting direct mailers in their mailbox, is not on par with the consequences of actual racism.”

This is a long read and interesting. It talks about the racial bias training on campus and other events that have followed from (in part) the 2018 incident.

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