"Nate Was Voicing a Popular Sentiment"

Title

"Nate Was Voicing a Popular Sentiment"

Description

James O'Keefe's letter was written in support of Nathan Gay's column denouncing the Ebony Man beauty pageant and the African American cultural center. O'Keefe's letter shows that a large contingent of NCSU students were uncomfortable with continued attention paid to issues of racial discrimination and black pride. In particular, O'Keefe criticizes the center for privileging the African American experience over that of other minority groups. He is especially uncomfortable that three entire floors of the new student annex would be dedicated to a cultural center that he believes would only serve a small segment of the NCSU population. In addition, O'Keefe lashes out against overt signs of black pride, including shirts that proclaim pride in blackness or black power. This discomfort among NCSU's white student population towards these black pride symbols becomes a recurring theme in many of the articles about race written in 1991 and 1992.

Creator

James O'Keefe

Source

James O'Keefe, "Nate Was Voicing a Popular Sentiment," The Technician vol. LXXII no. 59 (February 15, 1991): 4.

Date

1991-02-15

Contributor

Cheryl Dong

Format

newspaper article

Text

I'm writing in response to Nathan Gay's article "Contest is Racist." To begin with, it about time someone has spoken out about this growing problem. This university attempts to pride itself on its non-racist demeanor while at the same time it allows such blatantly discriminatory events to take place. This seems like a contradiction in terms. In addition, the new Student Center Annex is a joke. I will be the first to admit that Afro-American culture and history are of critical importance not only to preserve but to protect as well. However, lately this is getting a little bit out of hand. I can understood the need for an Afro-American Cultural Center but as Nathan Gay states in his article, what about the Hispanics, the Chinese Americans and the other groups that have contributed so vitally to the growing diversity of the "American" culture." Three floors dedicated to only one of the many facets of the American population is excessive. Also, why not have an intercultural center representing everyong instead of concentrating on just one group. I believe an injustice has been done here and should be remedied.

The Ebony Man contest is yet another sore point. How can this be viewed in anyway but a racist light. This contest expressly states that it is for black males only. How is this not discriminatory? I agree with Nathan, why not have an Ivoryman contest or just a general beauty pageant, why segregate the competition? This is merely an extension of the propaganda worn on shirts by Afro-American stating, It's a black thing, you wouldn't understand," "black by popular demand" and "black power"--just to name a few. You don't have to be a literary genius to understand the connotations implied. Understandably, one should take pride in their past culture and the Afro-American past is a rich one, but why put down other groups or promote supremacy by one culture instead of promoting understanding between these groups and appreciation of different cultures? The use of these shirts and the construction of these facilities only leads to the widening rift between the cultures. We should all work for the consolidation of these races, but by catering to the needs of one group more than the needs of the others, a feeling of resentment is formed and racist feelings come into play as a result. If the university works truly on a non-discriminatory policy, it should strive for equality in cultural representation and the promotion of culture unity (the American culture, that is).

Original Format

newspaper article

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Files

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Citation

James O'Keefe, “"Nate Was Voicing a Popular Sentiment",” The State of History, accessed August 9, 2022, https://soh.omeka.chass.ncsu.edu/items/show/33204.