Thursday, December 10, 2015

New Director of Gender and Sexualities Center Was Assata Shakur Supporter

Marquette’s misguided sop to the campus gay lobby, the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, caused the Administration a ton of trouble. First, it sponsored the bawdy Femsex seminar, which had women students creating pornography, coloring pictures of female genitalia in the Cunt Coloring Book, and engaging in “non-judgmental” discussions of abortion and prostitution. Marquette had to distance itself from the program, and cancelled the official university sponsorship.

Then there was the mural of black militant murderer and terrorist Assata Shakur, painted on a wall at the Center. When we outed that, Marquette quickly had it painted over, and fired the Director of the Center, Susannah Bartlow. Bartlow, it seems, was simply too politically extreme.

In the wake of this fiasco, Marquette split the Center in two, with one of the pieces being a center with a scholarly focus. According to a Marquette news release:
Center for Gender and Sexualities Studies will support research, teaching

A new Center for Gender and Sexualities Studies will be housed in the Klingler College of Arts and Sciences and will support research and teaching on the topics of gender and sexualities. Directed by Dr. Angelique Harris, associate professor of social and cultural sciences, the CGSS will also hold the Women and Gender Studies major and minor. The CGSS will be located in Sensenbrenner Hall.

“I am pleased that the CGSS will enjoy the leadership of Dr. Harris, who brings deep professional experience and dedication to the center and its mission,” Myers says. “She and I have already had many productive discussions about how we can enhance and grow the major, as well as provide additional academic programming and course development and research support.”
But it seems that Angelique Harris has political views similar to those of Bartlow, at least were Shakur is concerned.

The following is an e-mail that circulated around the campus this past summer:
Dear Colleagues,

As members of MU faculty who teach in Africana Studies or related fields, I’m hoping you might be interested in being a part of a new study collective forming inside and outside of MU. Your insights, histories, research and commitments would enrich it enormously! In addition, it would be wonderful if you’d take a moment to forward the call below (and readings attached) to anyone you think might be interested in your communities and networks. Please email with questions, and I hope you are all having productive, inspiring, refreshing summers.

Yours, Jodi Melamed

Dear One and All,

* In the wake of the firing of Marquette’s Director of the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and the destruction of a student-created mural of Assata Shakur, a major figure in contemporary Black political activism

*Following 20 years of neglect, zero budget, and no institutional support for Africana Studies at Marquette and in affirmation that Black intellectual history matters

* To support the rise of student and community activism around policing, racism, economic inequality, mass incarceration, detention and deportation, sexual violence and other issues

* Feeling the need to gather to experience the learning that happens when we create knowledge and resist unequal power dynamics in the learning process itself

We send this call for all who are interested to come together in a study collective - name to be determined - inspired by freedom schools and the undisciplined learning collectives of social movements that gave rise to Black, Ethnic, American Indian, and Women’s and Gender Studies.

The name and purpose of the study collective will emerge from our conversations together. Given recent events, we think it makes sense to begin with Assata: An Autobiography by Assata Shakur, a book that has come to represent (once again) the dangers associated with oppositional thinking.

Our first event will take place on July 26th (Sunday) from 3:00-5:00pm at Cudahy Hall (1313 W. Wisconsin Ave) Room 114. Come join us to discuss Assata: An Autobiography, whether you’ve read the whole book, part or none. RSVP not necessary, but appreciated! (To RSVP, email [redacted])

You can also find details on facebook at:

We’ve attached Angela Davis’s Introduction and the first and last chapters of Assata to this email to get you started. The whole book is available on Amazon and in many libraries, including UWM’s and Marquette’s (print and online version available). Please come whether you’ve read the whole book, part or none.

We’re also attaching a short essay entitled “The Whiteness of Police,” which examines policing as a form of racial management which “determines who requires discipline so that others can be secure enough to pursue their self interest.”

Looking forward,
Susannah Bartlow
Angelique Harris
Brianna Hawkins
Jodi Melamed
Sameena Mulla
(Study Collective Co-Facilitators)
This whole project seems as radical as the things that got the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center in trouble. Of course, leftist academics can get together and discuss anything they want, even “The Whiteness of Police” or the deep thoughts of Communist Angela Davis.

And the center that Harris heads is focused on scholarly things, and may be involved only in arcane stuff published in obscure gay and feminist journals (if at all). But, on the other hand, it may be that Marquette has failed to learn a lesson it should have.

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