Carlyle Brown, censored for writing truthfully
The modern dark age: Close-minded students at the black student association at Texas Wesleyan University have forced the cancellation of a play celebrating the civil rights movement in Mississippi in the 1960s — written by black author Carlyle Brown — because it included realistic dialogue of the time, including the word “nigger”.
Students objected to the use of the n-word in a play that tries to capture the environment of hate and racism of the period. Texas Wesleyan’s Black Student Association declared the reference to be harmful and “triggering.” Calling for a boycott, the Association declared that allowing the play to be heard would “further hurt Black students and possibly students from other marginalized communities.”
The Rambler student newspaper reported that school and theater officials killed the production after a 90-minute campus discussion: “The main concern the students voiced was the ‘triggering’ effect of using the racially explicit word, which is repeated 11 separate times throughout the play, and how it can cause trauma to the black students in the audience.”
The play, Down in Mississippi, can be read here [pdf]. From the play’s summary:
Three college students—a black man, a white woman, and a white man—travel to the dangerous world of Mississippi in 1964 to register Negro voters. Along the way, they discover that before they can change the world, they will have to change themselves. DOWN IN MISSISSIPPI is a celebration of a movement that gave birth to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Sounds good, eh? Well, that ain’t good enough for the modern black student. Nope, they must be protected from any words that might hurt their feelings or make them uncomfortable, even if those words celebrate their freedom and the defeat of racism and oppression.
This story leaves me somewhat speechless. If university officials can not even defend a play like this from censorship and blacklisting, then we are truly headed for a dark age so dark that human civilization will not recover for a thousand years. The image of Brown above is a screen capture from that 90-minute campus discussion, which he attended by video. You can watch a selection of clips from that session here. His reaction to the students’ intolerance:
“I didn’t write that to trigger you. I feel insulted that you feel like I intentionally meant to, being a black man, be dismissive of black people. I’m really sad that you would assume that.”
“If there’s going to be a future, yeah, you have to heal, but you young people are the ones who need to take the mantle. And so maybe you should be less fragile. And try to listen to what your former generations are trying to teach you for the well good being of all of us,” Carlyle Brown said.
The students however didn’t listen and didn’t want to learn. Instead, they decided that they were too fragile for honest words, and would rather seep themselves in ignorance. And school officials went along with this foolishness.
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