Racy Times at the University
This is another excerpt from the satirical novel being written by Ray Sinneck. In this chapter, a fictional student named Dime attends a required class at the University of Liberal Arts.
Dime shuffled over to his next class called Racial Health and Awareness for the Undiversified. It was yet another course selectively mandated at ULA. All students who were directed to take it have the objective of getting at least a grade of “B” before they are allowed to graduate. Arriving at the classroom, Dime was immediately taken with the poverty of the scene. The woodwork varnishes were discolored and chipped. The cushioned seats showed wear from cycles of use and were badly in need of upgrading. Dime wondered where all the money from decades of tuition hikes was going. Why weren’t classrooms in better condition? Dime liked to sit in the back row during classes. He found that a student’s classroom freedom was always proportional to the distance from the professor. There was the occasional charismatic who might pace the classroom while teaching. In these circumstances a student’s best hope is to remain nameless in the middle of a centrally located row. Dime surmised that it would be unlikely that Professor Bumphuku, a man of advanced age, would be one of those.
Dime had recently received his Diversity Worth Index report from the school administration, indicating a DWI value of zero. As such, he was considered a member of the group known as Undiversified (generally called Undies in the campus vernacular). As a white male, he had little chance of budging the DWI meter. White females, who were only marginally more diversified than their male counterparts, were required to take the alternative course, Race and Women’s Health. Any student with a DWI greater than 3 was exempted from the course requirement, but many of these minority students enrolled anyway in order to help the Professor fill Undies with racist guilt.
It was ten minutes before class time and Dime had failed to complete the initial self-evaluation form for the course. He was told by his friend Larry that it was a waste of time. Dime hadn’t even bothered to look at it, but he reasoned that he should at least familiarize himself with the content. He pulled up a copy of the text on his laptop and read the three evaluation queries:
- If you were an African American living in 21st century American society, how do you think you would feel?
- Have you ever been the target of racial discrimination?
- Describe each of the instances in the past month when you displayed racist behavior towards a fellow student, work colleague, or person of color.
Dime read through them again with heightened curiosity. He noticed that the answer space for the first two questions was minimal compared with the third question. A dapper looking fellow plopped into the seat next to him. Glancing at Dime, he said, “Heya, you need any help with that?” Dime looked up to see a neatly polished guy, who looked a bit older than the other class members. His hair was parted and set with an almost comical precision. He continued to smile at Dime as if he was programmed to do so by some unseen puppeteer.
Dime answered, “Yeah, I guess, I didn’t really do it.”
“Haha, that’s ok.” The pristine classmate had already pulled out his own copy. “It’s real hard to get it the first time.”
“The first time?” Dime asked.
“Oh, sorry, my name is Quigley. I’m a senior and I’m repeating the class. I hope to get even more out of it this time.” He handed Dime his copy of the questionnaire.
Dime thought Quigley’s behavior was strangely invasive, but welcomed the opportunity to see an example of correct responses. He scanned Quigley’s answers to the three questions:
- I am not black and so I am biologically and culturally unable to comprehend how it would feel to live in a state of perpetual repression.
- As a white male I have never been a target of discrimination because I live in a society that favors my race and gender.
- I pointed my feet on the campus bus in the direction of a white female to my right instead of towards the black woman who was sitting right across from me . . .
I responded with only a half-smile when my African American boss informed me I was doing well at my on-campus job . . .
I was not adequately impressed when I saw a black youth dunk a basketball at the local park . . .
Dime didn’t finish reading the long list of additional items under question 3. He was beginning to understand what Larry meant when he explained that there was an expectation that questions should be answered with a particular and singular perspective.
Dime said, “So, you’ve taken this class before?”
Quigley replied, “Oh yes, this will be my third time.”
“Are you getting any credits?”
“I get the same number of credits each time. The University looks very favorably on students who take their racial health seriously.”
“What exactly is racial health?” Dime was eager to know.
“Haha, I was just as confused as you were when I first took this class. It’s so obvious, looking back . . . let me explain.” His grin felt condescending. “You see . . . hey, what’s your name, by the way?”
“Everyone calls me Dime.”
“Well, you see, Dime, every one of us in this classroom is imperfect; impure . . . we fall short of the self-awareness we must achieve. What I’m trying to say is that every one of us is a racist, whether we realize it or not.”
“What? I don’t think I’m a racist,” Dime replied.
“Oh, you will by the time this class is over. I know it’s difficult to accept at first, but it’s very important that you do. You will learn from Professor Bumphuku how he came to a divine insight. As the story goes, one day, quite a number of years ago, while he was strolling along listening to Boney Maronie on his shoulder radio, the truth came to Bumphuku. In an instant he understood that millions of years ago, in a time when humans of all colors lived in harmony and bliss in some other intergalactic dimension, there arose a warlord, the Mother of all Racists if you will . . . whose name is utterable only to those who have taken this course several times . . . the Dark Lord Zeeboo. Zeeboo skewed the minds of white humanity and forged within them the seeds of hatred. He created enmity among the races. Zeeboo, in his infinite craftiness, implanted within the brains of every white person notions of supremacy over his fellow races. Dime, whether we like it or not, we are the progeny of Zeeboo . . . and we are now faced with the task of expurgating our inner Zeeboo, the intrinsic racism from which we are genetically constructed . . . oh yeah . . . hear me now. Do you understand?”
Dime wasn’t sure how to respond and stared blankly at his interrogator.
Quigley continued, “Oh, believe me I was the same as you, Dime. I was lost, I did not understand . . . but don’t even try to deceive yourself . . . you are a racist just as surely as I sit here. You are in the grip of the Dark Lord who maintains a stranglehold on all white men . . . yes, Zeeboo, the most devious of liars . . . do not be comforted by false thoughts that you are pure . . . you need help Dime, and that’s what this class is for.”
“This sounds a bit far-fetched.” Dime responded.
“It’s very natural, Dime. I was just the same. I had no idea. That’s the trick of it. Professor Bumphuku will explain it all. Think of an iceberg, Dime. That’s how your racism exists. It has been proven that only about 9.1 percent of the white man’s racism is readily visible. The other 90.9 percent is entirely submerged in the subconscious. Most people, like me, only become aware of the other 90.9 percent after extensive therapy.”
“Therapy?” Dime was confused.
“Oh yes . . . cutting edge techniques developed by Bumphuku himself. It’s based on electroshock therapy. You need to repeat the phrase over and over . . . I am a racist . . . while electrical discharges are shot through your cerebral cortex. Only then can you become fully awakened to your inner racist heart. And only then can you begin to deal with your problem. You see, once you become aware of your subconscious bias, then a higher voltage can be applied to eradicate that portion of your brain. It’s all done with surgical precision.”
Just then a large black man dressed in some sort of colorful robe walked up to the podium. He had a broad, shiny, clean-shaved head. Quigley whispered, “That’s the Holy Reverend Professor Bumphuku. The class is about to begin.” Dime stared dumbstruck at Quigley’s edgy grin.
Bumphuku began to speak. Dime couldn’t understand a word that came out of his mouth. His dialect sounded like some mixture of Danish, Swahili and English. Oh no, Dime thought, not another professor that I can’t understand. But then he was relieved to see that Bumphuku had a translator next to the podium who frantically typed out key phrases. He saw one flash up on the screen:
“THE PROFESSOR IS DEMANDED YOU LISTEN NOW. YOU ARE ALL NOSDIVERSERATU . . . UNDIVERSIFIED . . .”
Dime recalled Larry lamenting that three of his classes had translators this semester. He didn’t like it that his math translator seemed to have little knowledge of the subject matter, and was an Asian Indian with a heavy accent.
Dime kept his attention pegged to the screen and tried to ignore Bumphuku’s unintelligible diatribe. The Professor pounded the podium and became animated while the ambisinister translator flashed the next few lines up on the screen:
“EVEN A CRACKER WHO THINKS HE’S PURE OF HEART, AND SAYS HIS PRAYERS AT NIGHT, CAN STILL BE A RACIST WHEN A BLACK MAN’S NEAR, AND HIS SUBCONSCIOUS THOUGHTS AIN’T RIGHT.”
Dime worried silently as he thought about those shock treatments. Will I have to get therapy? I sure hope not. The next slide was up:
“THE DOCTRINE OF CONSUBSTANTIATION OF DIOPHYSITE ESSENCES INHERENT IN HYPOSTATIC UNION OF CONSCIOUS AND SUBCONSCIOUS PREJUDICES. THE ICEBERG PRINCIPLE.”
Like a hound who hears his name mentioned, Dime’s ears perked up. That’s what Quigley said . . . that bit about the iceberg. He scribbled energetically in his notebook. *