For generations, African-American employees and students have had to eat in the dining hall of a residential college — named, then and (stubbornly) now, for slavery advocate John C. Calhoun — and stare up at this stained glass window:
It simply defies comprehension that this was allowed to remain. The thought of trying to work, learn, teach, or even eat in the presence of this rights-erasing, humanity-denying decor makes me disgusted beyond words. It would be like having a stained glass window of a gas chamber, torture device, or sanitarium.
I have previously blogged about Things That Are Inexplicably OK, like tenured Princeton professors advocating infanticide of disabled kids or a sports team in our nation’s capital named after a racist epithet. This is way up there with all that. Another respected institution of higher learning, this one decorated with a depiction of slavery.
Until today! Yale dishwasher and civil rights action hero Corey Manafee stuck a broomstick through it. Window smashed; problem (at least the decor problem) solved.
“I took a broomstick, and it was kind of high, and I climbed up and reached up and broke it,” he said. “It’s 2016, I shouldn’t have to come to work and see things like that.”
“I just said, ‘That thing’s coming down today. I’m tired of it,’” he added. “I put myself in a position to do it, and did it.”
Damn right you shouldn’t have to come to work and see things like that. My view is: every African-American who has had to work or study in that space has a hostile environment claim.
But Corey Menafee enters my personal Civil Rights Getting Shit Done Hall of Fame, along with Bree Newsome, who climbed up a flagpole and took down the Confederate flag, and the mayor of New Paltz, New York, who started issuing marriage licenses to gay couples (for a brief time until he was ordered to stop) in 2004.
Don’t wait for permission to do the right thing; just get shit done.