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Last week, a White professor at Princeton named Lawrence Rosen was teaching a Cultural Freedoms course and asked, “What is worse, a white man punching a Black man, or a white man calling a Black man a n****r?”  According to The Daily Princeton, several students (there were six Black students in the class) were shocked he had used the word. The professor reportedly said the N-word two more times.

White and Black students told Rosen they were uncomfortable with him using the racial slur. When students asked for an apology, the professor replied with, “I don’t think I need to apologize; I did not oppress anyone.” The students filed a complaint and, on Monday, Princeton president Christopher Eisgruber defended the professor at a town hall meeting. According to The Daily Princeton, Eisgruber said, “I think it’s very important for our culture to have academic freedom that allows people to have pedagogical choices on how to teach difficult subjects. I respect Professor Rosen’s decision about how to teach the subject in the way that he did by being explicit and using very difficult words.”

A teacher, who the university happened to point out is Black, named Caryoln Rouse defended Rosen in an open letter, “This is the first year he got the response he did from the students. This is diagnostic of the level of overt anti-Black racism in the country today. Anti-American and anti-Semitic examples did not upset the students, but an example of racism did. This did not happen when (Barack) Obama was president, when the example seemed less real and seemed to have less power. I feel bad for the students who left the class not trusting the process. Rosen was fighting battles for women, Native Americans, and African-Americans before these students were born. He grew up a Jew in anti-Semitic America, and recognizes how law has afforded him rights he would not otherwise have.”

While there might be varying opinions on “trusting the process,” is using the N-word that important to the teacher? Even if this is the first time students said they were offended (other students may have been offended in the past but didn’t speak out), all he had to do was apology and not repeat the racial slur. As we previously reported, Rosen claimed he wanted to give the students a “gut punch.” It is not his place to give the students of color at “gut punch” on the N-word.

Nonetheless, the course has been canceled. But it sounds like Rosen and his Princeton colleagues need serious cultural competency training.

SOURCE: The Daily Princeton


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