On Elite Campuses Like Smith College, Woke Students Have All the Power
During the summer of 2018, a Facebook post by a black Smith College student named Oumou Kanoute went viral. Smith recounted being harassed by a college janitor and police officer who had accused her of trespassing while eating inside a dormitory lounge. The incident left her shaken and frightened—in Kanoute’s telling, she was persecuted for the crime of “eating while black.”
The Washington Post and The New York Times both covered her story, and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) came to her assistance. As a result of the attention brought to the situation, many of the employees involved—particularly the janitor and a cafeteria worker who had spoken with Kanoute—were publicly branded racists and subjected to extreme opprobrium. Kanoute eventually received a formal apology from Smith College’s president, Kathleen McCartney.
“This painful incident reminds us of the ongoing legacy of racism and bias in which people of color are targeted while simply going about the business of their ordinary lives,” said McCartney in a public statement.
Yesterday, the Times revisited the story, adding some key details. It turns out that Kanoute was trespassing: The dormitory in which she ate lunch was closed to students for the summer. Only children attending a summer camp were allowed to use the building’s cafeteria. The janitor who approached Kanoute—a nearsighted man in his 60s—had every reason to call security, and the officer who showed up apologized for bothering the student. Contrary to Kanoute’s claim that she thought her life might be in danger, the officer was quite unarmed.
According to the Times, Smith commissioned a report on the incident, and that report
cleared Ms. Blair altogether and found no sufficient evidence of discrimination by anyone else involved, including the janitor who called campus police.
Still, Ms. McCartney said the report validated Ms. Kanoute’s lived experience, notably the fear she felt at the sight of the police officer. “I suspect many of you will conclude, as did I,” she wrote, “it is impossible to rule out the potential role of implicit racial bias.”
The report said Ms. Kanoute could not point to anything that supported the claim she made on Facebook of a yearlong “pattern of discrimination.”
Ms. McCartney offered no public apology to the employees after the report was released. “We were gobsmacked — four people’s lives wrecked, two were
Article from Latest – Reason.com