Tuesday, April 3, 2012

And They Call Trayvon Martin "Suspicious?": Of Dartmouth College, Pathological Whiteness, Rape, Hazing, and Vomit-Egg Sandwiches

"The fraternities here have a tremendous sense of entitlement – a different entitlement than you find at Harvard or other Ivy League schools," says Michael Bronski, a Dartmouth professor of women's and gender studies. "Their members are secure that they have bright futures, and they just don't care. I actually see the culture as being predicated on hazing. There's a level of violence at the heart of it that would be completely unacceptable anywhere else, but here, it's just the way things are...
Such rituals were not restricted to SAE. One student tells me that during his pledge term, the brothers in his house set up a tarp in the fraternity basement, covered it in vomit, and made the pledges do a "slip and slide." He loved it. "Everyone peed on it and threw in their chaw," he says. "I thought it was great. I did it 10 times. But I was getting kind of cut up, so the pledge trainer told me I really should stop so I wouldn't get too many infections."
And they say that black people are "suspicious" and have "bad culture."

In the various pieces I have written about the Trayvon Martin murder, as well as my interviews on the subject, I have tried to return to one central theme. Much of the investment in the case by people on both sides of the color line, as well as ideological divide, is driven by a divergent capacity to empathize with the parties involved in this American tragedy. The varied responses to the killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman are also fueled by unstated and taken for granted assumptions about black humanity, dignity, citizenship, and belonging. Conservatism's fixation on race, crime, guns, and black criminality is central to this story as well.

Consequently, to many observers Trayvon is an existentially criminal, suspicious, and pathological person by virtue of his being black and male. I have tried to counter this logic by pointing out how these assumptions are a mirror for how whiteness and white people are almost never held accountable as a class or a group for the deeds of any given white person. Whiteness is ultimately the freedom to be an individual; blackness is an anchor that stigmatizes by virtue of melanin count, social identity, and connection (real or imagined, tenuous or strong) to a racialized community.

If the comments and emails I have received are any indication, my allusions to examples of "white" criminality have met with much resistance. Apparently, Wall Street stock brokers and the financier class who almost destroyed the global economy (and indirectly killed thousands if not tens of thousands of people in the process) are individuals: there is no connection between race and their behavior as would have been made if these robber barons were black or brown.

"Grandfatherly" and "kind" old white men such as Jerry Sandusky, a man who anally raped and molested dozens of children at Penn State (and who was aided and abetted by Joe Paterno in these crimes), is not indicative of how white men of a certain age are much more likely to be child molesters, and thus should be racially profiled. Nope. Those are the actions of individual people. It is only black folks, and other people of color, who can face blanket stigma as stereotypes do a particular type of work through the white gaze, and in a society structured in racial hierarchies, as well as malignant racial ideologies. By contrast, malignant and pathological white masculinity is allowed to operate with impunity, support, and nurturing in American society.

Rolling Stone magazine's expose on Dartmouth's fraternity culture is an object lesson in the innocence of White individuality, even while Whiteness itself is very pathological. Imagine if Dartmouth were an HBCU, or if these entitled trustafarians, and soon to be members of the 1 percent, were black or Latino? As someone who has worked in a previous life in college administration, and has colleagues who have remained in those halls, there is much evidence to suggest that students of color who are accused of cheating, inappropriate behavior, and other offenses are punished much more severely than their white, and other often more affluent peers.
Rumors about hazing abounded. One fraternity reportedly beat their pledges; another was said to place them in dog crates while the brothers vomited on them. Another frat ordered its new members to crawl between the legs of a line of naked brothers, "with, you know, their ball sacks flapping on their heads." A fourth was rumored to require its pledges to have sex with a frozen turkey.
I am very familiar with Dartmouth and have visited there many times over the years. As the Rolling Stone piece details, it is a world onto itself, existing in its own reality. That the administrators have surrendered to the bestial behavior of its fraternities, and no where does there seem to be a moment of reflection about how race, class, gender, and privilege are grossly (quite literally in this case) intertwined, is revelatory of how Whiteness is invisible, "normal," and "natural"--even when it is clearly sick and sustains a maladaptive culture.
At last, he and the other whale shits were escorted to the basement, where they were formally baptized as SAE pledges in a kiddie pool filled with a noxious sludge. "By that point you are really, really drunk – which is the point, because if you weren't, you'd never get in it," says Lohse, who was later told that brothers had peed, defecated, vomited and ejaculated into the pool.

His account of the kiddie pool has been almost universally contested by others who took part; according to an SAE brother, the pool was actually filled with food products like water, bread, vinegar, soy sauce, salsa and hot dogs. "When you mix all that stuff together, it smells really gross," the ex-brother says. "And when you're in it, you don't know what it is. We let the pledges' imaginations get the best of them." Lohse, for his part, hasn't backed down. "I know this because I watched them make the batch for the 2011 term," he says. "We were told they needed a few more guys to piss and boot in it."
In all, the these are junior Strauss-Khans in training.
Brothers aren't the only ones injured by this unspoken pact around fraternity life. Sexual assault is rampant at Dartmouth; some female students say they circulate the names of men considered "dangerous" and fraternity houses viewed as "unsafe." Between 2008 and 2010, according to the college's official statistics, Dartmouth averaged about 15 reports of sexual assault each year among its 6,000 students. 
Brown, a school with 8,500 students, averaged eight assaults; Harvard, with 21,000 students, had 21. And those numbers are likely just a fraction of the actual count: One study showed that 95 percent of all sexual assaults among college students are never reported.

In 2006, Dartmouth's Sexual Abuse Awareness Program estimated that there were actually 109 incidents on campus... 
Nearly every woman I speak to on campus complains of the predatory nature of the fraternities and the dangers that go beyond drinking. "There are always a few guys in every house who are known to use date-rape drugs," says Stewart Towle, a member of Sigma Nu, who de-pledged in 2011 because of a number of practices he considered dehumanizing.
One senior, who I'll call Lisa, was "curbed" in this manner the second night of her freshman year. She'd been invited to a fraternity by one of its members. Thinking it an honor, Lisa enthusiastically accepted, and once she got there, she had two drinks. The next thing she remembers is waking up in the hospital with an IV in her arm. "Apparently, security found me in front of the house. That was my introduction to the frats: passing out from drinking, waking up in the hospital and not having any idea what happened." What she did notice were bruises that looked like bites on her chest that hadn't been there before. "To be very honest," she says, "I didn't really want to know what actually happened."
The arrogance, lack of empathy, ethics, and grand hubris of the Dartmouth's frat "bros" detailed in Janet Reitman's article are the same values which led the financier class to act with impunity as they pillaged the American people. Apparently, these future masters of the universe learn their trade and craft quite early at institutions such as Dartmouth. Once more, and as it has long been, whiteness is the complexion for the protection.

10 comments:

Kunzelman said...

The new Patrick Batemans.

Weird Beard said...

What? You are holding people accountable for their whiteness? How dare you racialize whiteness. You know how hard people have had to work to hold up the myth of whiteness, and here you go challenging the greatest lie ever told. I don't think these folks are ready to take the red pill yet and exit the white matrix. They like the white matrix, they get to eat steak.
I think some find it more comfortable to pretend to de-racialize everyone and claim not to see color and treat everyone the same. Yet it never actually works out that they can even hold up to their own professed (and actually racist) standards. It's like a lot of people claim to try to eat well, yet we are obviously surrounded by fat asses. Racism is your fat ass, stop pretending like it doesn't exist. But, while many are struggling with pretending to be color-blind and non-racist, here you go racializing white on them and holding them accountable for it. Can they even digest that? Well, screw what they can take, just call it like you see it. I smell push-back along the lines of how can you racialize me when I'm not supposed to racialize you? It's not fair. derp derp. I have no context.

Dan Boyd said...

Your ability to roll with the facts of the Trayvon shooting that point in the opposite direction of a racially motivated assassination is amazing!
At least your in good company with media outlets like NBC who purposefully blur police camera footage to obfuscate Mr.Zimmermans pump knots and bleeding on the back of his head.

Turns out that Trayvon was a No_Limit_Nigga who beat a man for following him in a neighborhood that has been victim to several robberies all committed by blacks!

Turns out he wasn't 12 years old like the baby pictures broadcast on TV made him out to be! Hes 6'3" and 17!

Turns out that the "racist" white guy wasn't even white at all, nor a racist!

Turns out that Trayvon was suspended from school for the 4th time and is why he was out buying skittles at 3:00 AM!

His own brother posted "I know yu whooped his ass doe."

Despite all this you still tow the line looking rather silly while trying your best to stretch the truth! You should have hung up on this one bro. When the police report and medical records are released you will be forced to BS your way of getting this square peg to fit into the round hole.

White people didn't make this a racial issue and you can't blame us for defending ourselves. The race card failed this time around and has done more to awaken the sleeping whites who are sick to death of bending over backwards to not offend only to still be labeled racist than anything I could ever even hope to achieve!

Weird Beard said...

@Dan,
You seem really excited to recite a bunch of points already addressed. Smear campaign-check, denial of racial realities in this country-check, defensive white posturing-check, understandings and attitudes that perpetuate the system-check. It's like a burnt stale pop-tart with no frosting- crummy, tasteless, and disappointing.

CNu said...

White people didn't make this a racial issue and you can't blame us for defending ourselves. The race card failed this time around and has done more to awaken the sleeping whites who are sick to death of bending over backwards to not offend only to still be labeled racist than anything I could ever even hope to achieve!

Dan is correct.

Racializing the psychopathocracy literally makes no sense for one as bought into (or is that "sold-out" for) the black branded embodiment of psychopathocracy, the Hon.Bro.Preznit Double-O Bama.

Somebody figured out a while ago that race is no longer a useful or profitable constraint on the operations of the "necessary" administrative class.

To be overly preoccupied with what peasants in Florida do, whether wannabe rent-a-cop peasants or no limit, pants on the ground peasants is backward, stupid, and played out.

But then, if the only tool you have is a hammer, then every damn thing may begin to start looking like a nail.

CNu said...

Report from Iron Mountain

In 1961 Kennedy Administration officials McGeorge Bundy, Robert McNamara and Dean Rusk, all CFR and Bilderberger members, led a study group which looked into “the problem of peace”. The group met at Iron Mountain, a huge underground corporate nuclear shelter near Hudson, New York, where CFR think tank The Hudson Institute is located. The bunker contains redundant offices in case of nuclear attack for Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch/Shell and JP Morgan Chase. [7] A copy of the group discussions, known as Report from Iron Mountain, was leaked by a participant and published in 1967 by Dial Press.

The report’s authors saw war as necessary and desirable stating “War itself is the basic social system, within which other secondary modes of social organization conflict or conspire. (War is) the principal organizing force…the essential economic stabilizer of modern societies.” The group worried that through “ambiguous leadership” the “ruling administrative class” might lose its ability to “rationalize a desired war”, leading to the “actual disestablishment of military institutions”.

The report goes on to say, “…the war system cannot responsibly be allowed to disappear until…we know exactly what we plan to put in its place…The possibility of war provides the sense of external necessity without which no government can long remain in power…The basic authority of a modern state over its people resides in its war powers. War has served as the last great safeguard against the elimination of necessary classes.

Debbie said...

Dan

You stated: "Turns out that Trayvon was a No_Limit_Nigga who beat a man for following him in a neighborhood that has been victim to several robberies all committed by blacks!"

This based only on Zimmerman's testimony, who by the way was not given a drug/ alcohol test the night of the shooting.


"Turns out that the "racist" white guy wasn't even white at all, nor a racist!"

Wonder why all his "supposed black friends" aren't defending him...?

"Turns out that Trayvon was suspended from school for the 4th time and is why he was out buying skittles at 3:00 AM!"

Buying skittles at 3AM? Police calls indicate the incident happend around 7:00pm so why are you lying?

"His own brother posted "I know yu whooped his ass doe."

Proof? Being that Travyon's email has been hacked by Neo-Nazis- your kin- I find that claim hard to belive.


At this point, the only thing I'm waiting for is the autoposy report.

Ray Semedi said...

The implicit truth in the Trayvon Martin situation is that Black males are guilty by the very fact of their being. It doesn’t really matter to me what happened circa 7:15 pm on 2/26. There is no scenario that justifies Trayvon’s murder. He was unarmed and followed.


As soon as the news media began to paint the picture of an angelic child murdered by and evil racist I knew this would end badly. The world is too complex for that sort of simplification. I figured as soon as information came out that painted Trayvon Martin as a normal 17 year old boy from his socioeconomic background white liberals would gradually divest from the story.


I guess if you’re Black you have to be the perfect victim.


We live in a society where Black males are ontologically guilty. Our presence suggests some crime has taken place or may take place in the immediate future. As a result, we are constantly trying to reassure others that everything is ok or giving people what they expect to see.


White liberals need a perfect scenario of subjective racism to feel like a crime has taken place. The fact that Trayvon Martin is dead is evidence enough to arrest Zimmerman. In addition to the murder the bigger social crime is the objective/institutional racism of the Sanford police department and network of cronies that disregarded Trayvon’s personhood. But it seems “America” is not really ready to deal with that.

I hope I’m proved wrong but I doubt it.

Brotha Wolf said...

Dan,

You've missed the entire point of the blog entirely as expected.

White people didn't make this a racial issue and you can't blame us for defending ourselves. The race card failed this time around and has done more to awaken the sleeping whites who are sick to death of bending over backwards to not offend only to still be labeled racist than anything I could ever even hope to achieve!

Newsflash! White people made everything a race issue centuries ago. Yes. That was YOUR people. And since we can't blame you for defending yourselves, you in turn should not blame us for protecting ourselves as well.

Now, as for your "whoa is me for being nice to blacks" whining, frankly I could care less. You're just mad that you can't say racial epithets without worrying about getting your ass whooped online or offline. Next thing you know, you want to claim you have 1st Amendment rights to say whatever you want to say.

Llama said...

White Americans are so taken up with the sins of black folk that they pay no attention to the sociopaths who will go on to form their elite.

Folks don't want to question whom they've been taught to emulate. Too many people want to join that "brotherhood." It's what each of us ought to aspire to.