Are You Serious?

“If I didn’t say anything…”

Hold a Conversation

In addition to the questions below, please see How to use the questions for reflection.

Clarifying Questions

  • The speaker references two facts at the beginning of the clip: 1) The KKK tried to purchase the university in 1923 from the bankrupt Valparaiso College (they were outbid in 1925 by the Lutheran University Association); 2) The MLK building the speaker refers to was set on fire April 14, 2009–a week or so earlier it had been vandalized with racist slurs.  What does the speaker make of these two events?
  • How does the speaker describe the encounter with his advisor?
  • When the speaker finds a racist slur on his dorm room door, how does he respond?

Interpretive Questions

  • Does the speaker seem to be in a safe environment? Could that change? How?
  • What impact does historical racism have on institutions today? Does the fact that the KKK has been active in Indiana and tried to purchase the college in 1923 have relevance to the lives of white students and citizens today? black students and citizens? other minority groups? How or how not?
  • How would you rewrite the encounter with the adviser?
  • Who is responsible for catching and reporting vandalism, especially in dorms? Should the action be made public to the rest of campus? Why or why not?

Let us know how the conversation or self-reflection went. Email us or discuss the experience in our comment box.

Transcript for Are You Serious?

The first thing that they show you is when you’re here for FOCUS. They took us late at night actually and they show you the house they burnt down, the MLK building, and they tell you that the University was almost bought by the Ku Klux Klan. So I mean, right then and there you know that racism is surrounding the University and it’s a big aspect of like who they are almost. They preach it as this was us as some point or this could have been us.

An advisor that I had, she had messed up with my advising. She usually, when I’m in the meeting I look up class and stuff, so she usually signs off on all of my papers and stuff like that, writes the number down. There was a class that I needed a pre-req?, but she said it was okay, I went to the head of the Chair of the department, they signed off on it and said it was cool, I went to the professor the next day for class and he was like, ‘You can’t take this class, it needs a pre-req for that.’ So I went back to her, my advisor, to ask for help to switch it and she was like, ‘I thought you, I told you to sign this.’ She messed up, but then she looked at me and told me, ‘I thought you were illiterate.’ I looked at her and I was like, ‘Are you serious?’ and she was like, ‘Yeah, I thought you were illiterate.’

On every dorm, they draw pictures, you know what I mean, fun times I guess, just little illustrations of I guess movies that comes out during that time period. They had animals on my dorm and it was a kangaroo and on that kangaroo was wrote the word ‘nigger.’ It’s all in the big, glass window there at the front door of the dorm when you first walk in. What kind of shocked me was there’s a black student there, he’s a RA, and he was talking to the girl that was checking people in. I mean I just got out of track practice and I could see it walking in and I could see the window from a good distance away and they’re right there on it. I don’t know how they didn’t see it, or why it wasn’t taken care of. If I didn’t say anything it would have stayed up there.

I play a character and the University has taken a liking to it. It was around fall, fall last semester that I got an email from an alumni talking about they don’t see why the University condones anything that I do and that they find me to be racist. I feel like that’s funny because there might be some racy things, but the only thing that I’m doing is identifying what’s going on on the campus.

  • Emily Doherty

    The university almost being bought by the KKK, was a factual piece of information. Yes, it happened, and while unfortunate that it occurred, the group never ended up buying the university. While I do not believe that this event in the 1920’s affects the university’s view on racism now, he makes racism feel more raw and relevant when he brings up the MLK building being burnt down since this was a more current event happening. The situation with his advisor was unfortunate and I hope that things such as writing foul language against a race can be put to an end sooner rather than later.