The debate of if “white privilege” actually exists will go on indefinitely – among white people that is. For African Americans, this is not a topic we question, because we live with it every day, and we have enough receipts to back it up.
Take for example the recent antics for which people have called law enforcement on black people who were minding their own business, doing such provocative things as, gasp – BBQing! Cops were also called on black people for asking to use the Starbucks bathroom, for taking a nap in their college dorm, entering their apartment, asking for additional plastic forks at a Waffle House (yes, that really happened), and even trying to use a valid coupon at a drug store. A little black boy selling bottles of water on a hot summer day and another one merely cutting a neighbor’s lawn also got reported to the cops. Then, sadly a black man was shot and killed while in his own home by a policewoman who claimed she had entered the apartment after mistaking it for her own.
Yes, the examples are robust, and I could go on, but let’s pivot to a less deadly but more recent headline that has me seeing a whole lot of red.
Meet Sean Grubbs-Robishaw, the arrogant, bearded, gay, white male in Washington DC, who decided this week to show what little respect he has for African Americans and the legacy of Historically Black Colleges and Universities in this country.
It all started when local Washington DC news began covering the growing number of student complaints from Howard University regarding more and more affluent residents disrespecting their campus yard by using it as a dog run. Though the campus is open to the public, it is a place for students to enjoy, picnic, play, hang out and more – without the worry of encountering dog poop and urine. Yes, you guessed it, many of the town residents aren’t even curbing their dogs while utilizing the campus grounds.
Despite that, Sean Grubbs-Robishaw took to Twitter in a defiant response, declaring that the 153-year old Howard University should relocate its campus out of DC if it has a problem with the neighborhood residents letting their dogs run free in their national landmark campus park known as “The Yard.” Mister Robishaw is just 53-years old. You do the math.
DC-based radio host, Angie Ange, shared the Fox News 5 report covering the matter. Needless to say, Robishaw’s comments did not go over well with the nearly all African American student body of Howard University and local residents.
Recent reports have came out that Howard University Students feel disrespected by residents using the yard as a dog park 🐕 but this resident thinks the campus should be moved 😮😡 pic.twitter.com/stxHUWtu2X
— Angie Ange In The Morning (@AngieAngeAM) April 19, 2019
Almost immediately Black Twitter went on the attack and located both Robishaw’s Twitter and Instagram accounts. They directly schooled him on the perceived slight he had made to their culture and history. In a direct retort to Angie Ange, Robishaw tweeted the following, and irony is not lost on a man writing with so many grammatical errors, telling someone to “educate yourself.”
After a few more sharp exchanges, the cyber confrontation intensified to the point where Robishaw deleted all his social media accounts. International DJ/Producer Corey Craig was among the first to notice Robishaw had seemingly disappeared as he expressed in the the following hilarious Tweet:
In a strange turn of events, Robishaw’s vanishing act seems to have occurred just moments after a few of his detractors had taken screenshots of his very NSFW pics and shared them in their Twitter posts with disparaging comments. This was perhaps an effort to slut shame him – but the pics were aleady public as Robishaw is an adult homoerotic model.
I’ll admit, the images are kinda hot though. So, you’re welcome.
As for HBCUs, they are considered to be the equivalent of Ivy League; in fact, they are addressed often as the black Ivy League. Among these prestigious schools are Howard, Hampton, Fisk, Morehouse, Spelman, Dillard, Clark Atlanta, and Tuskegee. Just like their “white” counterparts – Princeton, Yale, Harvard, and similar institutions, factors of admission into the black Ivy League schools are also reliant on academic achievement, power, wealth and influence.
However, there is a key difference: These schools emerged nearly two centuries ago as the antidote to a racially segregated America, one that denied black people admission into “white Ivy League” institutions. So they created their own with the same level of outstanding academia.
Today, the beautiful campuses of HBCUs represent a sense of pride and history. They are in locations that African Americans carved out for themselves as safe spaces within cities that often marginalized them. The Howard campus is open to the community, but the welcome comes with a reasonable expectancy of respect – something Robishaw lacked as he became the “poster child” for every argument made against gentrification.
His response is outrageous for its dismissiveness, but it’s even more troubling coming from a gay man. In an ideal world, his association with the LGBTQ community would make him an ally, sympathetic to the plight of other marginalized groups. Instead, his insensitive response further highlighted a growing racial divide between those of white privilege, even gay, white privilege – and the brown people who will never know such a societal advantage. One Twitter follower jumped into the fray with a poignant declaration:
This type of privilege is present for example, in organizations like The Log Cabin Republicans and Gays For Trump. Both groups boast members who are affluent (or aspire to be). They are gay and white, and they all voted against their own best interest on election day in 2016 – or did they? By voting for Trump, they excused his xenophobic and anti-LGBTQ rhetoric; they turned a blind eye to him selecting Mike Pence –a career homophobe as his Vice Presidential running mate. Moreover, they disregarded the Republican party’s racially oppressive positions overall –because ultimately it would not affect them as white men.
As for Mister Robishaw, I don’t know his political affiliations, but I do know that his comments were willfully ignorant. It shows what happens when gentrification goes wrong. It depicts what happens when affluent people move into an urban environment, attracted by the energy and vibe it offers. But then when they move in, with their expensive little dogs that can fit into a purse, yoga mats, latte shops, and vegan bistros on every corner – they do so with a profound sense of entitlement and disrespect for the neighborhood’s legacy.
Can you imagine if black residents just decided to show up every day, letting their dogs loose onto the lush green yards of Princeton University, Harvard, or Yale? Then if you can imagine that, next imagine the universities complaining about it, and the black residents responding with, “If you don’t like it, then move your campus somewhere else!”
I think we all know how that would turn out – and it would not be very pretty … for the black residents.
This piece is an opinion piece by one Contributing Writer for Instinct Magazine and may not reflect the opinion of the magazine or other Contributing Writers.