Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


James Kent: Bigger and blacker

It has been brought to my attention that on this campus there is a
serious amount of enmity towards my writing and me in the black
community. I have not and will not apologize for my views or the
way I express them.

What troubles me is a recent assertion regarding my
personality and the level of “blackness” it contains.

First, I must say that none of my critics know me well enough
to make character judgements, so this is nothing more than
out-of-hand name-calling. Yet, I will address this view because it
leads to a much larger argument.

Apparently, to some on this campus, I don’t display an
appropriate level of black culture in my speech, dress and political

This is not new to me — I have heard this sort of ludicrous
sentiment for most of my life. When I was young it bothered me to
be seen as an outsider by my own people. As I grew up I began to
understand that I need not change to fit someone else’s mold. You
see, I realized that stereotyping exists on both sides of the black
vs. white (or any race for that matter) idea of the world. I have never
bought into that line of thinking, which may be the source of angst
toward me today.

At this point in my life, my personality has become intractable. I
will not change who I am to fit anyone’s preconceived notion of
what a black man should be. I am not interested in pursuing the
impossible task of pleasing everyone; besides, I have never come
in contact with the ultimate judge of black culture.

Perhaps one of my (many) detractors can tell me where to find
the great oracle of blackness, so I might learn what the
appropriate level might be.

This attack on my personality reveals the larger underlying
problem of prejudice within the minority community. I contend that
it is no less prejudiced for a black person to assume my
personality than for a white person to do the same. There is no set
rubric for life. I find the idea of a homogenous society — including
black society — to be nauseating.
Just as this campus as a whole badly needs diversity, there must
be a diverse group of people within the minority community. If
differing views aren’t allowed within our own ranks, how can we
expect the campus at-large to accept the unique perspectives of
minorities? I find it extremely disheartening to find the same
small-mindedness in minorities as in the infuriating people who
preach against diversity.
If you can’t bear to hear a conflicting view, you expose the insecurity
of your own beliefs. There is no contradiction in my life, or anyone
else who may not fit into the nice, neat box society tries to force us

It is indeed OK to be a black man and a conservative, it is great
to be a homosexual and a Republican and, believe it or not, it is
possible to work for The Badger Herald and not be a racist. If there
were a contradiction, it would be the clash of small-minded views
with the expansive nature of reality.

There is room enough for every view in this world. As awful
and hackneyed as it sounds, the term “big-tent” applies to life.
Your views may not be accepted, but they should be heard.

I am not at all squeamish about being persecuted for being
me. If others (be they black or white) find my lifestyle incongruous
with my skin color, they need to examine their views of what being
a racist truly means.

By making me the proverbial square peg in the round hole,
those who say I am not “black” enough have helped me earn my
title as iconoclast.

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