Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Time to rock the sexism and racism boat

By Dave Coffey

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

I will admit right away that I am by no means a fashionable person.  Everyday, I sport a plaid jacket that brings to mind the outfit Kurt Cobain was probably buried in. I wear wrinkled shirts bearing the likenesses of iconic figures ranging from the Incredible Hulk to Neil Diamond. So like I said, I’m not the most fashionable guy. Still, I find it quite puzzling that in a society of trendiness and modern fashion, outdated concepts such as racism and sexism still exist at large.

Recently, I’ve stumbled upon several news headlines that have not only caught my eye but have convinced me that these detrimental and prejudicial concepts still haunt us in a day and age when social progress is supposed to be at its peak.

In late January, I glanced upon a headline in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution  that read, “Whites Only Basketball League Announced.”  I thought this surely had to be a joke.  Not since the days of Jackie Robinson and the Negro Leagues in the 1940s has athletics been segregated by race.

Alas, it was no joke.  The All-American Basketball Alliance, which kicks off its first season in June in Augusta, Ga., states that, “only players with both parents of Caucasian race are eligible to play in the league.”

Not even a few days later, I happened upon a news story from the Telegraph Journal with the headline, “Attack on boyfriend included frying pan and a kitchen knife,” with the subheading reading, “Court: Rothesay woman avoids jail time and still lives with the victim.”

Once again, I hoped what I was reading was a sick joke.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t.  A woman from New Brunswick, Canada, was given a mere one year probation with no jail time for an incident where she beat her boyfriend with a frying pan and stabbed him multiple times with a kitchen knife. The article also states that, “there is evidence of drug and alcohol use that contributed to the violence.”  When asked about the case afterwards, the judge admitted that he is “doubtful” the sentence would be viewed  lightly if the gender roles were reversed in the incident.  But the judge left the situation alone, as he “didn’t want to rock the boat.”

Am I the only one that finds it ironic that, in a society so advanced, examples of socially senile tendencies such as racism and sexism take place right in front of our eyes? Whenever I go out wearing a plaid jacket, there’s always countless people who see it and say, “Wow, plaid? That’s so 90s.” It doesn’t really bother me at all, but what does bother me is no one questions blatant cases of sexism and racism this way. When one sees that an all-white basketball league is being started, does no one stop and say, “Segregation in sports? That’s so 1940s.” And when one sees that a male and female are being treated markedly different simply based on their gender in a court of law, does no one stop and say, “Legal gender inequality? That’s so turn of the 20th century.”

These are the sorts of things that landmark social figures like Martin Luther King Jr. and Susan B. Anthony saw decades ago as outdated social policies.  When you don’t let people into your basketball league based solely on race, that’s called racism, even though the league’s commissioner Don Lewis claims that “there’s nothing hatred (sic) about what we’re doing.”

When you treat a woman in court differently than you would treat a man simply because she’s a woman, that’s called gender inequality and sexism.  When someone beats and stabs someone in an alcohol-fueled rage, we lock that person up because they’ve proved beyond a reasonable doubt that for the time being, they are a dangerous person, regardless of which sexual organs they happen to possess.  While this particular case obviously favors a female, it only serves to cater to the attitudes and environments that objectify women on a completely separate social plane than men.  When society gives the nod to unequal treatment based on gender or race in the legal world and in the recreational world, it only makes it that much easier to allow gender and racial inequality in the professional, political and social spheres as well.

As the judge inadvertently points out in his hindsight referral to the New Brunswick case, the main reason these sorts of socially archaic policies still thrive is because no one is willing to “rock the boat.”  When it comes to questions of plaid jackets and shaggy unkempt jeans, people are quick to question the fashion sensibility of the wearer, yet where is the questioning of the racism and the sexism that still plagues our supposedly advanced and progressive society?

It’s time to rock the boat. Let’s make negative social prejudices unfashionable once and for all.

Dave Coffey is a Collegian columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]


3 Responses to “Time to rock the sexism and racism boat”

  1. ed on February 9th, 2010 5:21 am

    Let’s start right here at UMass with Lisa Kidwell and her illegal women-only self defense training program.

    What part of Title IX does Lisa Kidwell not understand?


  2. Faye on February 10th, 2010 11:38 am

    Great job Dave C. There is plenty of blatant racism and sexism. I, too, rock the boat and it seems to be ignored. Hopefully people begin to understand its not acceptable. I’ll read your column again!


  3. Dan on February 16th, 2010 3:40 pm

    REAL MEN stand up for equality. Right?


If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.