The demands of black students at EMU, debunking myths about Rosie the Riveter and the Arsenal of Democracy, going inside the Paris climate talks, and sharing the music of the Monkey Power Trio… on episode 34 of the Saturday Six Pack

SSP34head

If you haven’t yet listened to last weekend’t episode of the Saturday Six Pack, you should. It was a nearly perfect mix, at least from my perspective, of seriously thought-provoking and just plain fun. Among other things, we talked with a representative from the University of Michigan delegation at the Paris climate talks, two of the student leaders behind The Black Student 10-Point Plan at Eastern Michigan University, and a seriously passionate local historian on a mission to correct misconceptions about what life was really like for the women working the line at Ypsilanti’s Willow Run bomber plant during World War II. It was seriously good from beginning to end… even the part late in the show where Jim Cherewick and I just played songs off the new Monkey Power Trio record as young men on drugs repeatedly attempted to get into the studio… Here are just a few of the highlights.

We began the show by talking with Eastern Michigan University students Darius Simpson and Daryl Holman about The Black Student 10-Point Plan that has been proposed for Eastern. After taking some time to get acquainted, we went though the plan point by point, discussing why, in the opinion of those who drafted the document, each is important… Here, for those of you who haven’t yet seen the complete list, are the ten demands.

1. We demand that the amount of black faculty should match the amount of black students. Excluding all faculty in the Africology department. Meaning the ratio needs to match without including the black faculty in that department.

2. We demand all students should take a general education race, ethnicity, and racism course.

3. We demand Black studies built into the curriculum of every major.

4. We demand Annual cultural competency for all faculty and staff including DPS.

5. We demand a CMA that has the capacity to host large groups of marginalized students in a safe space without restrictions on outside food. We demand a functioning CMA allowed proper space and given proper recognition.

6. We demand low-income meal plan option/not requiring that students who live on campus to acquire a meal plan.

7. We demand several black financial advisors whose sole purpose is to find and distribute scholarships and financial aid to and for black students specifically.

8. We demand a separate committee, made up of students selected by Black Student Union, for Black Homecoming Week with the autonomy and power to schedule and hold events for Black Homecoming.

9. We demand a Doctorate and Master’s Program for Africology and African American Studies with adequate funding and no less 3 full-time graduate assistantships.

10. We demand the Women’s Resource Center dedicate at least 3 programs a year to black women specifically. We demand a black resource center under the umbrella of the Center for Multicultural Affairs.

As Simpson and Holman see it, these are all things that EMU administrators should want to do, seeing as how they aggressively market the diversity of Eastern’s student body. And, according to them, their initial meetings with university representatives have been positive. They said, for instance, that EMU Interim President, Provost, and Executive Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs, Kim Schatzel, told them that they’d have her support. Of course, less than 24 hours after telling them that, Schatzel announced that she’d be leaving EMU to take a job at a university in Maryland, but Simpson and Holman are confident that, in spite of the leadership vacuum left by Schatzel’s departure, and EMU’s notoriously uncooperative Board of Regents, that they can make something happen. Simpson [seen below] tells us that he’s confident that the Regents will do the right thing in this instance. “I’m a firm believer in people power,” he said, before telling us how he and his fellow students intend to put the Regents “in a corner” and force them to make a decision. “You don’t get to step away from this,” Simpson said of the Regents, who have skirted responsibility on numerous other issues in the past. “This is something that will follow (them) until (they) make the right decision.”

SSP34darius

It’s worth noting that EMU is not the only U.S. college where such things are being discussed. According to the site The Demands, as of today black students on 74 college campuses have made formal demands of their university administrators. While some of these demands have focused on the removal of specific officials, like we just saw at the University of Missouri, and the renaming of certain university buildings, like at Yale, most, according to a recent analysis done by FiveThirtyEight.com, are more broad and structural in nature, like those being proposed by EMU students. “The most common demands, according to our analysis,” says FiveThirtyEight’s Leah Libresco, “have been for schools to increase the diversity of professors, offer sensitivity training to students and faculty members, and create or expand support for cultural centers on campus.”

Saying, “These desires aren’t new,” Holman [seen below] explaining how, even though they’ve just committed these thoughts to writing, these are things that the black student body has been thinking about for a long time.

SSP34daryl2

[If you would like to listen to episode thirty-four of The Saturday Six Pack, you can either download it from iTunes or scroll the bottom of the page, where you’ll find the Soundcloud file embedded.]

Then, at the 37-minute mark, local historian Matt Siegfried came by to dispel a few local myths surrounding the Willow Run bomber plant, and the “Rosie the Riveters” who worked there during World War II. Siegfried, having followed the local reporting around this past October’s celebration of our local “Rosies,” in which 2,097 people dressed up in blue overalls and tied their hair up in red kerchiefs, felt as though people should know the real history was significantly more complicated than the commonly accepted narrative would have us believe. Everyone didn’t come together happily in America’s so-called “arsenal of democracy” to roll up their sleeves, pitch in, and help win the war effort, he argued. According to Siegfried, the situation was far from ideal for the women who worked at the plant, who lived in shacks without running water, often employed wildcat strikes to shut the plant down, and actually hated being forced to wear the those blue overalls we all imagine them working so happily in… “Myths deserve to die,” said Siegfried.

rosie

For an “arsenal of democracy,” Siegfried said, it wasn’t very democratic. Detroit was under martial law during World War II, he said, and Fourth of July celebrations between 1943 and 1945 were cancelled in Ypsilanti due to fear of potential race riots. “It was a tenderbox of race, gender and class conflict,” Siegfried said, as people competed for jobs and housing in a community essentially run by Henry Ford, who had made a conscious decision to import poor white workers from Kentucky, who he thought would be more anti-union, rather than hire the people here in southeast Michigan who needed jobs… It was a fascinating conversation, and I’d recommend that you listen to it. [I had no idea that the UAW actively pushed to integrate the Willow Run plant against the wishes of Ford.]

[Siegfried, laving listened to much of my interview with Simpson and Holman, started the segment talking about the historical precedents for the black student protests we’re seeing today at EMU. The Student Liberation Action Movement, he said, brought the National Guard to Ypsi in 1970, where, over three nights, over 100 people were arrested. That campaign, according to Siegfried, was led by black EMU students who wanted things very much in line with what today’s students behind The Black Student 10 Point Plan want.]

And, at the 53-minute mark, we were joined in the studio by 350.org’s Ethan Wampler and University of Michigan undergrad Jim Stehlin, organizers of the December 12 Michigan Climate March. During our discussion about the local response to global climate change, we were also be joined on the phone by U-M professor Dr. Ricky Rood, who talked with us, among other things, about current research into how we address the problems associated with climate change, and how realistic the current goal as stopping climate change at a 2-degree celsius increase over pre-industrial levels really are. [Rood seems to think that, given the reality of the situation, it’s unlikely that we’d be able to stop the temperature increase at 2-degrees. He did say, however, that he believe humanity would adapt, and that mankind would find a way to adapt, even at a 4-degree increase. Life wouldn’t be like we know it now, though, he said.]

And, during our live conversation with Wampler, Rood and Stehlin, we also dropped in several prerecorded exchanges between myself and Dr. Paul Edwards, the author of A Vast Machine: Computer Models, Climate Data, and the Politics of Global Warming, who was on the ground in Paris with U-M’s student delegation to the climate talks, where representatives from almost 200 countries are attempting to broker a deal that would see global climate change stopped at 2-degrees celsius. Edwards and I talked about the history of global warming negotiations leading up to the current Paris talks, how these negotiations are different from those that came before, and the tie between global climate change and terrorism. We also discussed the fact that more corporations and state governments are becoming engaged in the search for solutions to stop climate change, and the immediate impact we might see if we had the political will to cut the $500 billion we spend annually in oil industry subsidies.

If you care about the climate, or, for that matter, the future of life on earth, consider joining hundreds of others in Ann Arbor this Saturday, December 12th, for the Michigan Climate March, where we’ll be marching for a just transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050 in Michigan… Here are Stehlin and Wampler telling us what to expect.

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And, at 1:47, local musicologist Jim Cherewick came in to listen to the new Monkey Power Trio record with me, and discuss the “face eating” class of drugs popular with kids today. The highlight for me was when Jim covered the Monkey Power song Portland is Doomed, but a lot of good stuff happened… Two members of the Monkey Power Trio even called in. One was promptly hung up on. The other talked at length about how the whole idea behind the band, which seemed brilliant to us at 25, is actually starting to bum us out a little bit, now that we’re all approaching 50. [The idea was that we’d meet one day a year and record an album until every last member of the band is dead. Now that we’re beginning to confront our mortality, though, it’s not quite so interesting of a concept.] Here’s Jim, who went on the record describing Monkey Power’s music as “warm and inviting.”

SSP34cherewick

Thanks, as always, to AM 1700 for hosting the show, Kate de Fuccio for documenting everything with her camera, and Brian Robb for running the board, making sure the bills paid, and insuring that the toilet paper and bleach stays stocked. [All photos above come courtesy of Kate.]

If you like this episode, check out our archive of past shows at iTunes. And do please leave a review if you have the time, OK? It’s nice to know that people are listening, and, unless you call in, that’s pretty much the only way we know.

Now, if you haven’t already, please listen for yourself, and experience the magic firsthand… Oh, and tell you friends.

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52 Comments

  1. Demetrius
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    I’m glad that Black students at EMU are taking up the banner for greater representation among the faculty and administration that corresponds to their levels among the student body, but demands for “quotas,” separate (Black-only) spaces, and separate (Black only) rules make me nervous.

    If enacted, wouldn’t such demands simply reinforce the “separate and unequal” dynamic? Also … perhaps my workplace is unusual, but we have a fair number of Black employees, and I can assure you they are subject to the same rules, belong to the same teams, and are distributed among all the same levels of responsibility/authority as everyone else. Ideally, that’s the world these students will (should) be graduating into. Shouldn’t college be a training-ground for this environment, rather that one that reinforces the idea that some groups are treated differently?

    I realize I may be being idealistic/unrealistic, and I realize that for many decades Whites were the ones who had “special” rules, spaces, etc. But if the goal really is to move toward more equality, it’s hard for me to see how arguing to continue “special” anything – for anyone – helps move us in that direction.

  2. Jcp2
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 4:45 am | Permalink

    It’s a public negotiation that requires posturing on both sides to satisfy their stakeholders. You always ask for more than you are willing to accept. Asking for just what you want will always end up in a bad deal for you, both in the short and long run.

  3. tommy
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 7:36 am | Permalink

    Read these and others on The Demands site. Most are reasonable. I don’t think 1, 7, and 8 are.

    #1 The bench is not that deep to demand equal faculty staff ratios. In fact, logic would dictate that black PhDs would be in great demand at institutions across the country making it hard to land talent in the first place let alone significantly increase the numbers at EMU.

    #7 The job of a financial aid officer is to help students find aid – be they black, white, Asian , gay, etc. To perform your job any different than that should be grounds for dismissal. Unless there is specific evidence that black students somehow are getting shorted, this demand seems groundless.

    #8 Black Homecoming? Do other universities have separate homecoming events for black students only? This one seems strange.

  4. A.
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 8:10 am | Permalink

    Every town in America should have a show like this. I mean this sincerely. I’d love to see a return to non-commercial, community-focused radio. It’s time to claw the platform back from the likes of Clear Channel and return it to the people.

  5. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:13 pm | Permalink

    I was a little surprised that there was not some statistics to go along with the demands. For example, the idea that was repeated a few times about a scenario where someone can go through emu and not have a single professor is an interesting and shocking thing to think about. How likely is it? if EMU has 10 percent black faculty then randomly selecting 12 courses for four years will result in about 99.5 percent of students having had at least one black professor.

  6. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    I do not know what emu’s policies are but I do agree that part of the general requirements should be at least one black studies class or at least giving students the option of picking a few courses, in order to fulfill the requirement from Native American studies, black studies, women’s studies, Asian studies, Chicano Studies…

    But I do not know what the current requirements at EMU are so I have a hard time getting behind the idea.

  7. Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    Many white people want to stop talking about racism.

  8. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    The meal plans are also in my opinion not feasible for poor students. I just looked up EMU’s 19 meal a week plan and it is $4500 dollars. Screw that! When I was in college I would have loved to have access to a bowl of soup and a roll at cost (!)Instead we were forced into buying a trip to the cafeteria, with a lot of unnecessary options, that resulted in students becoming over fed and wanting a nap.

  9. Posted December 11, 2015 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    Mark Maynard, tune in (re: the upcoming Folk the Police music festival): Ann Arbor Loves Live Music!

  10. Kit
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    The event has been cancelled.

    “Folk The Police cancelled the event “FOLK THE POLICE // SUN JAN 31 // BLIND PIG // 6TH Annual”.

    It looks like Bee shamed them into shutting it down when she posted this yesterday.

    “I love folk music, I love some old school rap. I thought if I ignored it, it would go away and the community would see how tasteless it is. I have hundreds of connections that are directly involved in this, and love you though I might, if you aren’t questioning the outright appropriation of this event, you’re missing a larger cultural point that I can’t ignore any more.”

  11. Kit
    Posted December 11, 2015 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    https://www.facebook.com/matthew.altruda/videos/vb.1142805573/10208215953733528/?type=2&theater

  12. General Demitrious
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 11:50 am | Permalink

    I have to comment on a number of things Matt Siegfried had to say about the Arsenal of Democracy.

    For starters, I question the premise that the “commonly accepted narrative” is that everyone pulled together. The history of labor during WWII is seldom covered, while the output of that labor is. But when it is covered, I think it is widely noted as a time of high racial tension, and a turning point for labor in America, in terms of race, sex and occupation. Willow Run was not unique in avoiding this wave of social change, and I don’t think the workers there have ever claimed otherwise.

    Some of the other claims Matt made are pretty sketchy too:

    1. At Willow Run, the vast majority of workers wore blue pants, and a blue shirt. A few specialized occupations, like welding, did wear coveralls. The famous poster is actually based on a shipyard worker, where welding, and hence coveralls, were more common. I have also not heard from the Rosie’s that I have spoken too over the years a universal loathing for the garb. It appears to have been the least of there worries, in most cases.

    2. The worst fabrication by Matt is that Detroit was under martial law during WWII. Amazingly, federal (US Army) troops were deployed to Detroit in 1943 without the President ever having to declare martial law. These troops were in response to the Detroit riot of 1943. The troops were removed in July of that year, and deployed to North Africa to fight Rommel, and eventually invade Italy. Detroit was on edge during the entire war period, but was NEVER under martial law with military troops.

    3. There was no significant “competition” for jobs. With so many of the working age male populace at war, there was a massive shortage of labor. At Willow Run, the biggest problem was turnover. It was not an easy job there, so once people got a paycheck or two in their pocket, they often left. At one point I believe the average tenure had dropped to 3 months. The problem was with Black Americans working alongside White Americans. That caused many strikes, and several of the Rosie’s that I spoke to mentioned this.

    4. Henry Ford did not run, own, or operate Willow Run Village, the principle housing build for the workers. In fact, the major mistake with the plant was not accounting for worker housing. This was true all over the country in industrialized cities. By 1944, most of the tent cities were long gone though. Most of the Rosie’s I have spoken to were commuters, but a few lived in the Village, a few in Ann Arbor and Ypsi, None were ever campers. I think that was more for single men, as I understand it.

    5. UAW leadership supported integration, but the rank and file was absolutely opposed to it. Plant managers (Henry Ford was not significantly involved in the day to day operation of Willow Run) generally did not support it, because they knew it caused racial tension and strikes, which caused output to fall, and then their head was on the chopping block.

  13. Matt Siegfried
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 12:14 pm | Permalink

    Real quick: “But when it is covered, I think it is widely noted as a time of high racial tension, and a turning point for labor in America, in terms of race, sex and occupation.” Is that a joke, where in the campaign for the Yankee Air Museum or in the recent Rosie celebrations has this been mentioned, ever?

    1) “at the Ford Willow Run plant when women workers refused
    to wear a company-prescribed suit, ‘a blue cover-all thing
    with three buttons on the back with a drop seat.’ When the
    company began disciplining women who showed up without
    the suit, the rest of the women struck, and that, apparently,
    was the end of the suit.” Martin Glaberman’s Wartime Strikes.pg 23

    2) That “Martial Law” was officially never declared was a legal loophole, the Army ran Detroit under Secretary of War’s order for three days. We can quibble over the legalisms, but the US military patrolled the major industrial city of the US at the height of the war to quell the worst race riots the north had seen since the Civil War. A special proclamation was given by Roosevelt giving the Army authority of local police forces. The law governing insurrection was invoked. The whole text of the order is available online.

    3) This completely ignore the competition between races for access to jobs and housing, which was intense at at the heart of conflict.Work was racialized as well as genderized which meant that black workers in Ypsi had to travel to Dearborn because they couldn’t work locally. Competition for housing was nearly as violent as that for jobs. Little housing had been built and racial segregation made placing housing by workplaces an absolute mess. Competition between black and white for access was the heart of the problem.

    4) I never said Ford owned Willow Lodge, I said he did everything he could to prevent it and then, when it went ahead, Ford Co. did everything it could to mitigate the consequences for himself (like insisting the housing be split between two townships). By 1944 the need for housing around the plant had seriously declined (as employment also declined), to the point where housing, once so needed, stood empty— meanwhile local blacks were still barred from the empty houses, confined to a small neighborhood of the Village until the very end of the war.

    5) Which rank and file? Certainly not the many tens of thousands of African Americans then in the UAW. Your comments show an underappreciation for race and racism in this story.

  14. Matt Siegfried
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 1:33 pm | Permalink

    If folks would like to investigate themselves, email me at msiegfr@gmail.com, I now have around 300 or so articles from the time on Willow Run that I would be happy to share; including from the black and labor press. At some point I’ll make an online archive, but for now if you would like to peruse I might be able to upload via googledrive for interested folks.

  15. General Demitrious
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 3:28 pm | Permalink

    The Yankee Air Museums activities do not define any viewpoint. I think they just want to save a piece of historic Willow Run. More power to them. The Rosie thing is a publicity stunt, based on an iconic propaganda poster, nothing more. The Rosies I have spoken to did want to do their part for the home front.

    1) You stated that the women workers at Willow Run “actually hated being forced to wear those blue overalls we all imagine them working so happily in.” I stated that they never wore those overalls at Willow Run. You then changed your comment to a quote from Martin Glaberman with regard to some other type of garment, which as you correctly pointed out, the women rejected via a wildcat strike, which I think only further illustrates the power workers had during the war. They were the commodity in shortest supply.

    2) That “Martial Law” was officially never declared is much more than a legal loophole. By incorrectly using that term you imply that the power of the local government was suspended, which it never was. In fact, the use of Army troops was quite similar to the use of National Guard troops now. Also, this action was limited to approximately 3 months in 1943. Detroit was not “under martial law during World War II”, as you so erroneously stated.

    3) You stated “people competed for jobs and housing in a community essentially run by Henry Ford.” I merely refuted that statement by pointing out that Ford did not control either the jobs or the housing. The WPB was involved in both of those areas, and I, as well as you mentioned the racial conflicts caused by bringing more Black Americans into the workforce.

    4) I never said Ford owned Willow Lodge> Yes, you did: “people competed for jobs and housing in a community essentially run by Henry Ford”. Henry Ford was not on any board governing any government housing, ever. Keep in mind that he was 79 at the time, and had suffered a major stroke.

    5) The black membership in the UAW during WWII never exceeded 12%. Even by 1959, Black membership was only 15%. UAW leaders were early supporters of integration (most notably including Walter Reuther). The rank and file were not. The Packard Hate Strike in
    1943 was over THREE black workers being on the assembly line.

    I appreciate your trying to bring a broader perspective to Willow Run, but at some point you are going to have to be more rigorous and less inflammatory. As I stated in my original reply, “I think it is widely noted as a time of high racial tension, and a turning point for labor in America, in terms of race, sex and occupation. Willow Run was not unique in avoiding this wave of social change.” That is a fact, and can be explored without using distortion, vilification, and historic cleansing.

  16. Matt Siegfried
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    General, I appreciate your comments, and I would gladly go again into each one; a radio program with Mark is not a place for footnotes; and we can play with semantics -the fact was that every newspaper at the time from the Chicago Tribune to the Detroit Free Press described it as Martial Law; the Michigan legistlature was out of session, so the US government intervened to order the troops in; and since we are doing semantics I am sure you will agree that 1943 was “during World War Two”.

    The comment that “The Yankee Air Museums activities do not define any viewpoint.” perfectly encapsulates the problem I see; of course they do; a definitive role locally in fact. I’ve tried to write for the Visit Ypsi on the issue of race at Willow Run and the local campaign to desegregate the plant (I’d be happy to share this info with you so you can demand others writing about this locally are rigorous as well) including local reps from the black community going to DC to demand that housing at Willow Lodge be open to all; it was rejected as not part of the story they wanted to tell. We have all kinds of weird gatekeepers to this history; and I’m not one of them. I hope you are as vociferous in your demands for rigorous history and the folks most responsible to putting this history before the public. You demand rigorous from me about which set of clothes were worn, but for the public (mythical) celebration of the Rosie’s which included many black women without reference to the fact that they were barred from working there your response is “More power to them”.

    Historic cleansing? Not me. This is a complex history with deep roots locally (black labor is the reason for heavy industry coming to Ypsi originally- not black labor coming to work in heavy industry) that it requires a lot more than a discussion on a blog or radio program; and it’s not served by ignoring the deeply inaccurate way too many who should know better are presenting it locally.

  17. General Demitrious
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 5:12 pm | Permalink

    No, the fact is Martial Law was never declared anywhere during WWII, and your clumsy attempt to portray otherwise is at best disingenuous, and at worst prevarication.

    Take it from a former angry young man, leave the lies to people on the wrong side of history. You don’t need them, and they do not make your argument stronger, only weaker.

  18. Matt Siegfried
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    Your attempt at patronization is misplaced; I’m not nearly as young as all my clean living makes me look. And wrong, Governor Kelly explicitly declared Martial Law on June 22nd at 11 am to go into effect at 10 that night. The Governors’ order is on the very front page of the Detroit Free Press that day with the heading “Martial Law at 10 PM US Troops Move In” quite easy to look up. Or give me your email and I’ll send it. Martial Law was also declared in Hawaii for years during the war. Beaumont, TX was also declared to be under Martial Law during in the June of 43 by the Texas governor. There are whole books on these.

  19. Stupid Hick
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

    D, you have to understand Matt is primarily a social justice warrior, not a historian. Sort of like a poor man’s Michael Moore, just not as credible or good-looking.

  20. Lisa
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    I never realized that there was a difference between understanding social injustice and understanding history. The dominant plot here, guys, is clearly in your favor–a lot of folks on this blog have that same set up, privilege. I understand not wanting to shake that boat.

    Mark, do you really like these guys commenting like this? I mean what level of conversation is this? Are these the sort of people you want engaging in your space? Seems base, and somewhat typical of something you’d see more of on Ann Arbor.com. I like a lot of what you publish but often the comments ruin it for me. Using rude comments about someone’s looks as a way to undermine their expertise seems childish–boring even. What you produce on your show deserves more than that, in my opinion. A deeper conversation among a more mature crowd.

  21. Lisa
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 6:46 pm | Permalink

    Matt- Keep on it. The real Ypsilanti knows your work and respects what you do. You’ve given more to this community than most. Thank you.

  22. General Demitrious
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

    In fact though, the only one of those statements that is correct is in regard to Hawaii, which was not a state at the time.

    “I, Harry F. Kelly, Governor of the state of Michigan, and Commander in Chief of the military forces of the said State of Michigan, hereby declare a state of emergency and the necessity for the armed forces of the State of Michigan to aid and assist, but in subordination thereto, all duly constituted authorities in the execution of the law of the state.”

    No takeover of the government, no military trials, no suspension of right to assemble. Not martial law, and that term was clearly avoided by the governor, despite the sensational headline.

    I like social justice warriors. We need them. We need to make sure that they don’t use the same methods as the opposition.

  23. Matt Siegfried
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 9:14 pm | Permalink

    My god man, the point is that US troops were patrolling the ‘Arsenal of Democracy’ because of a race war in the city at the same time they were fighting in the PacifIc; a fact that should, but has not yet, make us as a community and a country seriously reflect and take stock. State of Emergency, Modified Martial Law (Gov. Kelly’S phrase) or Martial Law; we also fought a war at home.

  24. Posted December 13, 2015 at 10:14 pm | Permalink

    Lisa, I don’t, as a rule, edit comments. I think I’ve erased three in the 12 years I’ve been doing this. I’m sorry that you don’t like what was said on this thread, but I think that Matt would be the first to say that people have a right to express themselves, and that vigorous debate is a good thing. Furthermore, I think he’s stood up for himself quite well.

  25. Jerri
    Posted December 13, 2015 at 11:53 pm | Permalink

    The music of the Monkey Power Trio as interpreted by Jim Cherewick is site was not nearly as off-putting as in its original format. Thank you, Mr. Cherewick.

  26. Peter Larson
    Posted December 14, 2015 at 7:14 am | Permalink

    Racism exists in the United States and is a problem.

    But do we really need separate and equal everything for “black” students in US publicly funded universities? Separate courses, special funding, new degree programs (with PhD options? Even Mathematics doesn’t have a PhD program at EMU) for “black” students is a bit much. A “black homecoming?” That’s a bit much and frankly, quite scary. Anyone ever heard of “black proms” in Mississippi high schools? What’s the difference?

    We are encouraging students to be more compartmentalized and isolated by forcing them to adhere to old and racist ways of viewing humanity. This isn’t doing anyone any favors.

  27. Lynne
    Posted December 14, 2015 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    FWIW, I have enjoyed the comments on this post and haven’t found them to be disrespectful. If anything, it has been informative.

    Peter, obviously, I can’t speak for black people. But I can speak as a person who was a racial minority in school. I was recently reading a book called _How to live in Detroit without being a Jackass_ and at one point, the author was describing how his HS had a “white girl table” in the lunch room. At my high school, we had something similar. It wasn’t anything formal of course, it was just that people tend to want to be around people who are like themselves. When you are a racial minority, that kind of space is difficult to come by but it is important because sometimes people just want a space where they can be themselves without having to confirm to the mainstream culture. I suspect that is what things like “black homecoming” are about.

    Now it may be that formalizing that kind of thing can do more harm than good in the sense that it would be better if we could all get along together but that is an easy thing for me to say because in such a situation, I am pretty much going to be a racial majority in most situation.

  28. Pete Larson
    Posted December 14, 2015 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    So do we need separate homecomings and PhD programs for every individual group at EMU now?

    Segregation forever.

  29. Pete Larson
    Posted December 14, 2015 at 11:34 am | Permalink

    Given the mass lurch backwards in the US, I relieved to know that I will never have to work at a US academic instituion again.

    In fact, I will be glad to never step foot on American soil again. You guys are nuts.

  30. Lyle
    Posted December 14, 2015 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

    It does seem like a step in the wrong direction for black students to have their own homecoming. If white students were to suggest such a thing, it would be news across the nation. With that said, if the black students don’t feel included in the current system, their concerns need to be heard. Perhaps there’s another solution to be had.

  31. Lynne
    Posted December 14, 2015 at 4:33 pm | Permalink

    Trust me, there is a big difference between an minority group that wishes to have their own space and a majority group that does. There is no need for a white homecoming because the regular one is already pretty white. I think so anyways, I have to admit that although I am an EMU alum, I go to my own special “introvert homecoming” in my living room….with just me.

  32. Jcp2
    Posted December 14, 2015 at 6:56 pm | Permalink

    http://youtu.be/RovF1zsDoeM

  33. Pete Larson
    Posted December 14, 2015 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    I am pretty disappointed that this retrograde nonsense gets airtime. In 1969 it might have been interesting, but in 2015, it just seems silly.

    EMU is pretty black in its student population, im sure that the homecoming is well mixed.

    Has this guy ever been to a homecoming?

  34. Jean Henry
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:51 am | Permalink

    Jeezle Pete– they are students, undergrads I think. They are just starting on the arc of activism– when separatist and other radical inclinations come up and need to be worked through. Activism is a path to awareness. And everyone has their own.
    Plus the 10 point plan is a negotiation tool, so putting a few things out there that you can sacrifice makes sense.
    I thought the students were really on point in their conversation with Mark. I wish they were in this thread to address accusations of segregation.

    My take: Queer proms exist– in Ann Arbor at the Neutral Zone until recently– in order to create a totally free and safe space for LGBT kids to celebrate. They could, and did, still go to regular prom, they just had their own party too. And I’m sure those experiences were very different.

    Black Americans, as an oppressed minority, deserve the opportunity to be fully visible. I would assume they are not talking about excluding white people from their homecoming, because that would be illegal. They are simply putting themselves as a group in the forefront.

    Black frats exist and Black colleges. Black Chambers of Commerce are very effective at addressing the specific concerns and opportunities of minority owned businesses. They function alongside regular chambers of commerce– and many business owners are members of each. If the students want Black Homecoming I’m guessing they feel the regular Homecoming week doesn’t serve all their needs. I don’t think anyone would be upset if International Students had their own Alumni week.

    What upsets is the acknowledgement of race– which should be a non-issue. Except for reality. Pete seems to be making the post-racial argument akin to that used by those who oppose affirmative action– albeit from a different place. It’s logical. If race doesn’t exist, by acknowledging it we make it exist. All lives matter, not Black lives matter, right? Yeah, we’re there yet. Not even close. Until then, we Americans have these awkward often misdirected and painful conversations that acknowledge race and we have groups that acknowledge race, and they are NOT responsible for perpetuating racism in America. They are responding to racism in America and asserting their right to agency.

    Big news: racism isn’t just a problem in America. It exists everywhere Ive ever been in some form or another. In most places it’s just accepted as a matter of fact. In those places it never changes. It doesn’t get ugly. It doesn’t get better. That pendulum doesn’t fucking swing at all. Nothing happens in denial.

    Here progress happens. Right now is a moment of reckoning in America. Mass incarceration and police brutality and racists killers and gun violence and implicit bias have been around a long time– we are just becoming fully aware of it now. And many are converting that awareness to activism. And that’s an imperfect process. But it’s a great time to be in America and a shitty time too. But there is disruption everywhere.

    The thing I liked best about the interview was the students saying that faculty and administrators were coming to them and asking about implementation of specific parts of the ten point plan. They were looking to POC for guidance on how to address their particular concerns, instead of deciding that for them. The 10 point plan provided a framework for productive conversation. Those are some smart students. The whole BLM movement is smart. In any progressive movement, there are some extremists, but this group has been really really smart strategically. And it’s just homecoming for chrissakes.

  35. stupid hick
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    OK Lisa, fair enough. I should not have made a gratuitous comment like that. I’m actually a fan of Michael Moore. I need to reflect on why Matt’s dubious scholarship bothers me, yet I give a free pass to Moore.

  36. Peter Larson
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 3:08 am | Permalink

    Yes, there are black fraternities, black proms and HBCs…. but those were created at a time when black people were excluded from just about, well, everything. This is not the case anymore. Black students at EMU are free to not only attend EMU, but also to attend proms and join fraternities.

    What these “safe spaces” create is segregation. Black students, gay students and whoever else benefit by making themselves visible at functions designed for everyone. Self segregating benefits no one at all and publicly funded Universities have no business facilitating it.

    So they are students, yes, but they need to be taken to task for the failings and the overall toxicity of what they are suggesting. Racism is very real in the States, but segregation won’t solve any of those problems. In fact, it will only make them worse as people become more and more compartmentalized.

    I don’t know what EMU these kids go to, but I found EMU to be quite accommodating to non-white students and the high percentage of black students means that no one should feel left out. Perhaps my white privalege sheltered me from the realities of brutal racism at EMU, but I would think that, as public universities go, EMU is quite accepting and accommodating… even without having to have dedicated proms and living areas for specific ethnic groups.

  37. Jean Henry
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 6:28 am | Permalink

    No separate living area was in the demands, a large on site meeting site that allows outside food was requested. Many campus venues require one to use campus catering. It’s expensive and no doubt presents a barrier to underfunded organizers. I know a little more about that issue. I don’t know what the issue is with Homecoming– and neither does Pete. I’d like to hear more from the activists. Pete would like to tell marginalized and oppressed communities when they have progresses far enough. While I get that, at a certain point, separatism becomes problematic, I do not believe we are there yet. I’m certainly not prepared to argue that Black activists are perpetuating toxicity and racism here. That sounds a lot like blaming the victim. There are women’s festivals, Scottish games, special Olympics– why not Black Homecoming? Maybe Pete would like to do away with American Indian Reservations as well?

  38. Jean Henry
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 7:10 am | Permalink

    I’m wondering if the homecoming demand relates to cost somehow– maybe the regular event is economically exclusionary? Maybe they all just want to hang out together in an event they, as a group, create and run. At least they are not demanding an end to capitalism, the head of the President or some other far out BS. Most of the demands seem actionable in part (maybe not entirely) and based on some specific grievance or raising standards for inclusion along well established lines. For years, the demands of POC and women and people with disabilities on campuses across Anerica have been dismissed as impractical or divisive. I’m glad to see these students are being heard. It’s all good.

    I have a hand typed manifesto/list of demands of the ‘Pacifist Anarchist Bisexual Psychadelic Conspiracy’ from Columbia in 1969. It’s farce but not– Yippie stuff. Among their demands: the ROTC program expunged, Grades Abolished, the President’s mansion be turned vet to the people– with funding for an experimental college/commune there, free drugs from counseling with trip guides provided, remove all jails, and wine in the water fountains. And lastly that ‘Columbia in toto be tossed in the river.’ Pushing limits is pretty standard operating procedure in activism. No, it’s not 1969 anymore. The EMU students are downright practical in comparison.

  39. Peter Larson
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Yeah, I would like to do away with the reservations. Broadly, they haven’t done anyone much good.

    I’m more disappointed that these guys get airtime for trying to move EMU back to the segregation era.

    Have black people progressed enough? What is enough? But where does this stop? Publicly funded schools are becoming more and more places where people are afraid to interact with people unlike them and places where people demand special favors to what aim, I have no idea.

    These kids are going to go into a world which does not provide them with “safe spaces” and special, tax funded favors. That is the true travesty here. Kids who don’t go to college are probably better prepared to deal with the reality of a messy world than kids who get trained to use the power of policy to shield themselves from that which they don’t like.

    I think that places of education can do better. Sure, these kids are undergrads, but they got some local press. Hell, Mark put these guys on his show. The scary thing is that they might get a “black homecoming” as it is the easiest of the demands on this list. The University would do well to not endorse or pay for it.

  40. Peter Larson
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    I went to a majority black school. The few white kids there were didn’t band together to get a “white homecoming,” though that did happen often in my state, but the school did feel that we were oppressed enough to give us special segregated classes (AP) where we’d feel safe.

    Fortunately, I was too stupid to take those classes. Despite not being able to take advantage of them, I never felt unsafe. The experience of having to interact with people different from myself on a daily basis was incredibly educational. I am thankful for it.

  41. Jean Henry
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 7:57 am | Permalink

    There is a difference to sensitivity to ‘micro-aggressions’ that hurt one’s feelings and calling out situations/speech etc that are representative of a much larger inequity as a means of building awareness. I’m very opposed to censorship or trigger warnings even. I understand that eliminating all triggers is not possible– or even desirable if one is to overcome trauma. But we are not talking about personal trauma here; we are talking about systemic oppression and Black people demanding agency and a seat at the table after years of having those in power define what is progress for them. Who cares about Black Homecoming? It’s nothing relative to the egregious wrong of white people telling POC that when they talk about racism (the system of oppression that they live in) they are creating it. I’m tired of hearing activists and advocates of all stripes called over-sensitive. There is a particular breed of privileged liberal that frequently falls into that trap. The real hyper-sensitivity I see is ‘white fragility’ whenever anyone starts having conversations about race. Talking about race does not perpetuate it. It just makes us uncomfortable.

    Also, as awful as the reservation system is in many ways, without it, Native American tribes would no doubt be culturally extinct. If Natives want to leave the reservation they can. Many don’t. Critical to all of this is free will. No individual is being forced to do anything. If people want to live separate lives or form separate groups– that are not exclusive, but that they shape and manage, they should be allowed to do so.

  42. Jean Henry
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 8:03 am | Permalink

    Peter– News flash– being a minority population in your high school is in no way analogous to being subject to historic and current systemic racism. That the AP classes were segregated for (and maybe exclusively for?) the white students was. You were still walking around privileged in that school. I can’t believe you would even go there.

  43. Peter Larson
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 8:51 am | Permalink

    “You were still walking around privileged in that school.”

    You have no idea what you’re talking about.

  44. Peter Larson
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 8:54 am | Permalink

    “If people want to live separate lives or form separate groups– that are not exclusive, but that they shape and manage, they should be allowed to do so.”

    But that’s the point. Though not universal, in many cases they are exclusive. I am wholly anti-community, of any kind.

    “Black homecoming” is simply the dumbest point on this list, hence the easiest to talk about.

  45. kjc
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    Peter’s inability to come to terms with his own privilege, or the projection of his own experience onto all others, is well documented. His thinking on this issue is no different than the average white person on the street who hasn’t thought beyond his or her gut reaction. Yada yada back in my day, i’ve been a minority too, i didn’t need a white homecoming, the world’s messy, students are whiny children, special favors, progress, blah blah. I tune him out.

  46. Peter Larson
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Like Jean you have no clue what you are talking about.

  47. Jean Henry
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 9:38 am | Permalink

    Pete– Your skin tone and gender confer you privilege in this society. Privilege is not solely a function of personal circumstance. It is not just income. I can’t believe you are arguing that point. A person can be privileged in one regard and not in another. I know a Black professor from an upper class background who could not summon any empathy for soldiers or begin to understand their experience. Cis women often do not understand the circumstance of LGBT people though they may profess support. Many gay people have demonstrated bias against Transgendered people. Where one has privilege one can not understand the experience of others without a lot of listening. You are amply demonstrating my point.

  48. Frosted Flakes
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 9:41 am | Permalink

    Mostly all of us have the same goals, I think.

    I have been an active protestor. I have shut shit down. So I feel completely comfortable pointing out that activism also can have a negative side–the feeling of power without regard to Justice or ethics or strategy. It can be very seductive.

    A lot of people seem to think that we are moving toward a less racist society and that progress is a given. Nope. Race relations and structural racism can get worse. I have fears that many activists are not on the right path.

    There is activism on all sides and that simple fact is indicative that activism is not some guarantee “awareness”, as Jean suggested. In fact, it seems to radicalize people and make them inflexible in their thinking.

    Critical thinking coupled with living with and working with people that are from different backgrounds creates awareness. I can think of no better place to do this than at a University campus. For this reason I reject the wisdom in asking for a “black homecoming”, for example, but I am all ears when it comes to unfairness in the hiring of black faculty. Is it a problem at EMU? If you are part of this 10 point plan then can you give us some numbers, please? The idea that it is hypothetically possible for someone to go through school without Having a black professor is not good enough.

  49. Jean Henry
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 9:46 am | Permalink

    Being dogmatically anti-anything is problematic– much less community which functions positively for so many different people in so many different ways, but also, yes, can and often does exclude. It is the foundation of culture. Forming communities is a human behavior documented in every human culture by that anthropologist whose name I forget. Other mammals do it. The world post any difference world you seek is not possible.

  50. Pete Larson
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    Jean has never been to Mississippi.

    Arguing privelege,as if it were something either has it or does not, is silly and ignores the vast gradiations of power and privelege in the United States.

    Bur, if it makes you feel better…

  51. Pete Larson
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

    Just as all policy is exclusionary, all communities are exclusionary. We should minimize both.

  52. Pete Larson
    Posted December 15, 2015 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    It is telling that you folks dont see the snark in my quip about AP classes in Mississippi public schools.

    But, oh well.

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