News & Politics

Who Knew? The Way You Walk on the Sidewalk Is Racist, Says Black Student Newspaper Editor

(AP Photo/Chris Pizzello)

A black editor at the Daily Northwestern student newspaper has developed a brand new way of determining whether you’re a racist or not.

It’s the way you walk, whitey.

That’s right. The editor, Kenny Allen, “wondered why walking around on campus could be so frustrating.” Apparently, Mr. Allen “would often have to walk way around people to pass without bumping into them.”

Isn’t this kind of like “manspreading”? Sort of. But it’s so much more. Males who open their legs wide on subways are just asserting their dominance over women, say feminists. But sidewalk hogs are apparently all white and do it just to annoy black people. Like “Jim Crow” on steroids.

Campus Reform:

However, after “talking to [his] Black friends about my experience,” Allen concluded that “people at this predominantly White school would not move out of our way on the sidewalk.”

Laying out the claims by University of Richmond sociologist Bedelia Richards for determining “whether one’s university is racist” — such as which groups feel most “at home,” whose “norms, values and perspectives” are legitimated, and “who inhabits positions of power” — Allen concluded that “white people” meet most of the criteria.

Whether “norms, values and perspectives” of black people aren’t “legitimate” is a subjective evaluation, which Mr. Allen is perfectly welcome to believe. But if racism is holding stereotypes of a race other than your own, isn’t this a stereotypical observation of white people?

Allen then asserted that “the formal rules of Jim Crow were accompanied by a set of informal ones that governed the way Black people approached White people in public space and vice versa.” This social order “required Black people to yield to White people whenever possible” — such as “stepping off the sidewalk when a White person was walking past.”

“White people came to expect the right of way in public spaces,” he added. “White people who were accustomed to moving through the world like that — intentionally or not — taught their kids to move through the world in the same way. And the racism that undergirded Jim Crow wasn’t eliminated just because the laws were no longer overtly racist.”

How did Jim Crow teach me to “expect the right of way in public places”? Not one of my ancestors lived anywhere near the Mason-Dixon line. My mother’s family is from Minnesota and North Dakota. My father’s family moved to the south side of Chicago from Ireland.

Perhaps Mr. Allen believes white people learn how to walk on the sidewalk to annoy blacks by osmosis. Perhaps that knowledge is in the air and is absorbed by white people. Maybe all white people think alike and know instinctively how to frustrate black people while walking down the sidewalk.

Maybe Mr. Allen is full of crap.

“Any man who judges by the group is a peewit,” said crusty Union sergeant Buster Kilrain in the movie Gettysburg. Kilrain had been asked what he thought of the black race and his response is an excellent response for anyone who exhibits racist attitudes — white or black.

This observation about white people is not only stupid, it’s racist. It’s stupid because it suggests that parents teach their children how to walk on the sidewalk — a ludicrous idea born in paranoia and uttered by a blithering idiot. Allen’s observations about how white people walk on the sidewalk are equally loony.

And this guy edits one of the most respected student newspapers in the country?