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Author rips the lid off racism at U.S. colleges

James Fugate and Lawrence Ross./OW photo courtesy of Jason Lewis (185873)
James Fugate and Lawrence Ross./OW photo courtesy of Jason Lewis

Author Lawrence Ross recently kicked off the book tour for his latest work: “Blackballed, The Black and White Politics of Race on America’s Campuses” during a recent Saturday gathering of about 50 people at the Alpha Phi Alpha house in View Park.

Ross, author of “The Divine Nine” is also a leading expert on fraternities, sororities, and campus life of colleges and universities in the United States. His new book touches on topics that the public is becoming more aware of through social media.

“For the past 15 years (while) lecturing at more than 500 colleges and universities across this country, I’ve spoken to thousands of students about Greek life,” Ross said.  “And . . . African American students would ask to speak with me privately. They’d talk about their lives at predominately White colleges and universities, (PWIs); how they felt like outsiders at a university they wanted to love; how White students treated them everyday; how members of predominately White fraternities and sororities often made them feel afraid of walking across their own campus; what it was like to be denigrated at racist (campus) parties. The reports were … to say a word, horrifying, but no one was listening. I decided to listen.”

Ross said, in recent years, numerous stories have come out about White students holding events to mock Black culture. He said parties such as the “Compton Cookout” have become routine, where White students put on blackface and dress in attire that is negatively associated with Black people.

The author noted that last year a video surfaced of members of Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity at the University of Oklahoma chanting “there will never be a nier in SAE.”

In “Blackballed,” Ross details the long history of these racist acts, which have continued for several generations.

“Blackballed” is an explosive and controversial book that rips the veil off one of America’s hidden secrets—America’s colleges have fostered a racist environment that makes many campuses a “hostile space” for African American students. “Blackballed” exposes the White fraternity and sorority system, with its traditions of racist parties, songs, and assaults on Black students; as well as the universities themselves, that name campus buildings after racist men and women. It also takes a deep dive into anti-affirmative action policies, and how they effectively segregate predominately White universities, providing ample room for “White privilege.”

Ross is scheduled to speak at Cal State Pomona on March 9. An autographed copy of his book can be purchased at Eso Won Bookstore in Leirmert Park.