A professor a the University of Tennesee-Knoxville was made to attend a racial sensitivity training session for mentioning a rapper’s album that contained a “racial epithet” in it.
According to the campus new outlet Campus Reform, Melissa Hargrove, professor of Africana studies, wrote the n-word above the acronym: “Never Ignorant About Getting Goals Accomplished,” while lecturing about the title of a music album from 1993 by Tupac Shakur. The album in question was titled, “Strictly 4 My N****Z.” Professor Hargrove specializes in researching the hip-hop movement as her field of expertise.
Students in the lecture posted pictures of the racial slur to social media which in turn drew the ire of the school administration. The chair of the Africana Studies Program condemned Hargrove for writing the word, according to a statement sent to students.
“We have been confronted with the image of one of our faculty members in Africana Studies standing in front of a whiteboard with a word that presents as a racial epithet for Black people,” Chairwoman Shayla Nunnally said. “Without context and the acronym alone, this word presents a very painful and derogatory one that is not only uncomfortable but also hurtful and troubling.”
The original intent for writing the word was to start a discussion as to whether it is appropriate, and why, black people refer to themselves as the ‘n-word.’ The statement from the Chairwoman also states that the professor teaching the course “also raised the questions and pursuit of knowledge about how Black people have been able to define and identify themselves.”
Chairwoman Nunnally stated that what we should be getting from Hargrove’s written words was that more people overall need to understand the “power dynamics” of race and the history of racism.
“Let us also consider that ‘the lesson’ in this incident has illustrated even more how complex this languaging may be in any form — verbal or in print — and the significance of race, politics, and cultural appropriation. Understanding this is rooted in a knowledge about the power dynamics of race and the history of race relations.”
In a second statement to the students, the leadership of the university said that Hargrove will be made to participate in training to “improve her presentation of difficult, potentially painful topics.” As a result of this, they have set in place a temporary instructor for the course until such time as Hargrove finishes her training.
While the administration has not received any complaints from any students from the classroom, students who were not involved in the class have called for the dismissal of Hargrove entirely.