All the snow has melted, and Villanova is whiter than ever.
During my first week at Villanova, a white administrator told me (I should say us) that, roughly, “We are no longer to say ‘Vanillanova’ because it is something the school is working to change.” After two years I think I know what this project has amounted to, namely, the intentional banning of a catchy term that points to the deep, structural racism of our school, and the rather ridiculous attempts to cover over such racism with ‘service days’ and altering our ‘diversity image’ via Villanova’s main home page. The way in which our school as a whole “favors the favored and disfavors the disfavored” (Bourdieu) is basically and at heart neocolonial.
Last semester George Yancy gave a great talk and challenged those of the audience to make the ubiquity of white spaces on campus uncomfortable. I have tried to think of how to do this with little-to-no time for organization or knowledge in this area. But I have recently thought of ‘occupying discursive space’ in a subtle but maybe striking way, and I mention it here only to possibly generate a conversation about its feasibility, and see who might be on board. I am on campus everyday and have chosen the phrase “Challenge Vanillanovan Patriarchy” to write on a chalk or white board in normal sized letters before leaving whatever building I’m in. Since we discussed micro-politics last night, I’m interested in putting out the idea, for those interested, to consider whether or not this in a way occupies (makes uncomfortable, disrupts) the largely racist and sexist structures within which we are working each day. I’m curious as to whether others would be interested in cultivating similar practices of leaving traces on chalk/white boards—traces that teachers and hopefully students then erase but then cannot not think about. I’m interested in suggesting such practices because, in different handwritings/terms but with the same antiracist and antisexist goals, such practices might not require any central organization, and, moreover, requires hardly any time.
This is an inchoate idea, but this would seem to be the class to pitch it to.