Lawrence Ross speaks at DePauw about racism on college campuses


Author and lecturer Lawrence Ross called for students and faculty alike to become anti-racists this past Thursday at a Kresge Auditorium lecture.

DePauw University’s Office of Fraternity and Sorority Life hosted the event as a part of this year’s Greek Week–– a week featuring Greek sponsored events and activities.

Hundreds of people filled auditorium seats to listen to Ross’ words. His lecture, based on his most recent book “Blackballed: The Black and White Politics of Race on America’s Campuses,” encourages people to “know better, do better” and learn about racism and its harmful consequences in order to correct, as well as prevent, such discrimination.

Ross explained race as “a biological nothing but sociological everything,” and to ignore people’s race is to ignore a central aspect of their identity. He described how race-related incidents on college campuses are typically dealt with in terms of what he called “three ‘izes’ equal a miss”.

“First you individualize the situation. Next you minimize the situation. Then you trivialize the situation,” Ross said. These three standard treatments of racist incidents on campus leads to the ‘miss’ Ross referred to as the dismissal of students’ experiences of discrimination and bias.

During his presentation, Ross displayed numerous images of white students on varying college campuses participating in racist behavior. He discussed how racism on campuses was and still is alive and well within universities across the country; from wearing blackface to using racial slurs.

In order to deal with white supremacy–– what Ross explained as the root cause of racist incidents everywhere–– people need to become anti-racists and actively fight racism. He said that while racists are easy to identify, non-racists tend to distance themselves from obvious racists, thus becoming complicit in their behavior. Ross said, “The people I want beside me are anti-racist. The people I want are people who are going to take action.”