Tag Archives: bree newsome

Hostile Environment; or Stained Glass What the Fuck?

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:

{Image: stained glass window showing a man and woman, both with dark skin, in 19th century clothing, standing in a cotton field, each with a basket of cotton on their head.}

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.

“Tear Down That Flag…”

Bree Newsome, a courageous, badass, and very athletic civil rights hero climbed the flagpole in front of the South Carolina statehouse and took down the symbol of treason to our country and oppression of so many of our fellow Americans.

While she was clinging to the pole with the flag in hand, Newsome shouted: ‘You come against me with hatred and oppression and violence. 

‘I come against you in the name of God.

‘This flag comes down today.’

As she calmly descended the pole and lowered the flag into the waiting arms of police, Newsome said ‘the Lord is my light and my salvation’ and announced she was prepared to be arrested.

She is my hero.

She deserves the same respect as others who took down symbols of oppression and/or treason, for example the courageous Hungarians who toppled the statue of Lenin,

Image:  Black and white photo of men gathered around the head and chest of an enormous statue of Lenin lying prone on the ground.

People gather around a fallen statue of Soviet leader Josef Stalin in front of the National Theater in Budapest, Hungary, in this Oct. 24, 1956 file photo. (AP Photo/Arpad Hazafi, file)

the jubilant people of Baghdad who pulled down the statue of Saddam,

Image:  Wide angle shot of Baghdad square as the statue of Saddam is pulled down.

Photo credit: CNN

the jubilant Germans who “tore down that wall,”

Image:  black & white photo of a man with a pick ax swung back over his shoulder, about to bring it down on a graffiti-filled wall.

Photo courtesy of the ITAR-TASS News Agency, via gulaghistory.org/nps/onlineexhibit/after/fall.php

and even the patriots who tore down the statue of George III.

Image: painting of men and women in 18th century clothing pulling down a statue of George III on horseback.

Manhattan Patriots tearing down statue of King George III. By William Wallcut, 1854. Image from http://danielhutchinson.squarespace.com/hi334

We didn’t put the statues of George III or Saddam back up, but they did put the Confederate flag back up — just in time for the pro-treason flag rally later in the morning. 

Thank God for Bree Newsome, for Jim Obergefell, and for so many others who see something that needs to be done and go do it.