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Carnegie Mellon’s response to Professor Uju Anya’s tweet is an example of how institutions stand up for white supremacy

OPINION: The policing of black women’s responses to racial trauma is nothing new, but this latest example is particularly stark.

Editor’s note: The following article is an editorial, and the opinions expressed are those of the author. Read more opinions on the Grio.

When a world leader dies, there are always different types of responses to the announcement of the death. There are those who fully supported the leader and openly mourn their passing with platitudes and memories etc. There are those who are indifferent to the news and wonder why everyone makes such a fuss about it. There are those who view the leader through a critical lens and mention their past actions, good and bad, while discussing their passing. And then there are those who have been directly affected by the leader’s wrongdoing, and in that leader’s passing they find catharsis in expressing their true feelings about the leader and all that that leader has done.

Whichever of these categories a person may fall into, it is their human right to feel what they feel. If they choose to share these feelings openly, for example on social media, those of us who receive these messages have a choice: we can agree or disagree.

What we should never do is tell others how to react and deal with their personal trauma. Controlling these responses – especially when they come from marginalized groups and are directed at a white leader who has, in fact, caused harm – is a form of white supremacy.

Our latest example comes from Carnegie Mellon University following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

When the queen’s death was announced on September 8, reactions on the internet were mixed. Many praised the queen and noted all her good deeds. Irish Twitter went totally in, joking, laughing and cheering that the monarch was dead.

Many people from countries where the Queen’s reign over colonialism and genocidal activities had a direct impact on their families had something to say about her passing, and naturally, none of it was pleasant.

Uju Anya was one of those voices. She “is a university professor and researcher in applied linguistics, critical sociolinguistics and critical discourse studies primarily examining race, gender, gender and social class identities in learning a new language across experiences of African-American students,” according to her website, and she is a tenured professor at Carnegie Mellon University.

Upon learning that the Queen was on her deathbed, Anya tweeted: “I heard that the head monarch of a genocidal thief and rapist empire is finally dying. May his pain be excruciating.

While this is certainly a harsh statement to post on social media, it came from a place of deep hurt, personal loss and resentment. As Anya told the WTAE reporter Marcie Cipriani:

“I am the child and brother of genocide survivors. From 1967 to 1970, over 3 million civilians were massacred when the Igbo people of Nigeria attempted to form the independent nation of Biafra.

Among those massacred were members of my family. I was born in the aftermath of this genocide, which was directly supported and facilitated by the British government then led by the monarch Queen Elizabeth II. This support came in the form of political cover, weapons, bombs, planes, military vehicles and supplies which the British government sent to kill us and protect their interests in the oil reserves on our land.

My people endured a holocaust, which darkened our whole life and continues to affect it, as we still mourn untold losses and still rebuild all that was destroyed. Conversations between us today still include who was lost, who was moved, where people fled, where bodies are buried. They do not include kind, respectful, or temperate feelings toward the people who murdered our loved ones and destroyed our lives.

Context is everything, and those who rushed to judge his tweet should have taken the time to understand where he came from, including Amazon founder and toilet break monitor extraordinaire Jeff Bezos, who took the time to get away from the unions for tweet quote Anya and say “He’s someone who supposedly works to make the world a better place? I don’t think so. Wow.”

First, the irony of Bezos – who won’t even let his employees pee when they have to – wiggling his finger and clicking his tongue at someone else who talks about ‘making the world a better place’ makes me constipated.

It should also be noted that Bezos donated millions of dollars to Carnegie Mellon. This becomes important when you look at how an internet mob has formed against Anya after Bezos tweeted her, with many asking if it was appropriate for a college professor to say such things on the internet.

Carnegie Mellon then released its anemic statement condemning his words as follows:

We do not tolerate offensive and objectionable messages posted by Uju Anya today on her personal social media account. Freedom of expression is central to the mission of higher education, however, the views she shared do not in any way represent the values ​​of the institution, nor the standards of discourse we seek to promote.

What happened to universities being places where free thought is encouraged? What happened to universities supporting free speech? Why is this university throwing this black professor under the bus? Why did Jeff Bezos feel the need to speak out on this tweet of all tweets?

Again, keep in mind Irish Twitter has gone stopped Thursday. There is video online of an Irish football match in which the crowd sang “Lizzie’s in a box” in reference to the dead Queen. Did Bezos or anyone else speak out against this as vocally as they did against black women? Another video showed Irish pubers chanting the same song. Outside of the UK has anyone made a fuss?

Do I even need to point out the major difference between these people and Dr. Anya?

As a black woman, Anya was supposed to keep her thoughts to herself. This is how white supremacy works. You are supposed to endure the abuse and keep quiet about it. Even bringing up the problem makes you a bigger problem than the problem itself. Do you remember selective offence?

It’s nothing more than Carnegie Mellon and Jeff Bezos defending white supremacy. Coupled with the complete whitewashing of British history that has been occurring since the Queen’s death, this should be totally offensive to us. everythingnot just Professor Anya.

As many have noted on Twitter, death does not make the queen a saint. Her deeds will forever be etched in the memory of those she touched. Also, would there be as much backlash if Anya’s tweet criticized the “tyrannical leader” of a “third world country” or someone from a Middle Eastern country? I doubt very much that there is a contempt. It’s OK to criticize these people, but baby, white is always right, even when it’s completely wrong, apparently.

Anna herself is quoted as saying“‘Speak no ill of the dead’ is a weapon aimed at the oppressed to silence them, to worship the oppressors and to sanitize their history.”

Bezos-owned Washington Post columnist Karen Attiah, who is Ghanaian-Nigerian via Texas, wrote in an op-ed on Saturday:

The death of Queen Elizabeth II, Britain’s longest-serving monarch, sparks a global battle royal over a central question: How can we speak honestly about the loyal servants of Britain’s mighty and historically brutal Empire?

My answer? You speak the truth loud and clear, firmly and without hesitation. Use a microphone if you need to say it louder for those in the back.

In the wake of the Queen’s death, propaganda, fantasy and ignorance are pitted against the historical record of Britain and the lived experience of Africans, Asians, Middle Easterners, Irish and Americans. ‘others.

Pretending that the Queen’s reign was all about rainbows, unicorns and happy faces all around serves no purpose. It is important to study the true history of every country, every leader and every ruler so that the mistakes of the past do not continue to be made…

…unless that was the plan all along. Protecting white supremacy ultimately leads to white supremacy continuing in some way, shape, or fashion.

And maybe that’s what it’s all about anyway. Maintain the status quo and crush dissenting voices.

Either way, CMU was wrong. Jeff Bezos was wrong. Those who try to silence the voices of marginalized people are wrong.

Say it with your chest. The louder we are, the more they will have to listen.

Monique Judge

Monique Judge is a storyteller, content creator and writer living in Los Angeles. She’s a word geek who’s a fan of the Oxford comma, spends way too much time on Twitter, and has more graphic t-shirts than you. Follow her on Twitter @thejournalista or check her out on moniquejuge.com.

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Carnegie Mellon’s response to Professor Uju Anya’s tweet is an example of how institutions champion white supremacy appeared first on TheGrio.



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