Have you ever followed the rules of your job, only to land yourself in hot water because of it?
For most of us, if it happened, it was soon resolved because, yes, we followed the rules. It’s a pain in the rear, but it’s soon taken care of and life goes on.
For a staff member of Smith College, that may or may not happen.
You see, the staff member saw what he believed to be a man lounging in the common area of a building at a women’s college during the summer. That seemed suspicious, so he called it in as Smith College policy requires him to do.
The campus police arrived and investigated and found out that it was a student, though one with an extremely short haircut, one short enough to offer a bit of confusion as to the sex of the individual without a more thorough examination.
I’m sure the student wasn’t happy about that, and who could blame her? Being called a guy isn’t exactly cool, and I get a woman being upset about that, even if it’s based on a mere glance.
However, what is the student is most upset about? Well, she’s black and so now it’s a whole racial thing.
Of course, note that she doesn’t know who the staff member is, hence her demand the staffer be identified, but she’s already identified the staffer as white. Nope. No racial bias here. Move along.
Smith College handled this in the time-honored tradition of colleges everywhere. They promptly freaked out and started practicing throws so they could soon toss the staff member under the bus.
The Fix noted, “Smith’s response was, of course, measured and nuanced: It put the employee on leave and will most likely surrender to the mob by firing or paying off this person to leave campus. To handle its investigation, it hired a law firm whose founder has a curious definition of sexual assault.”
President Kathleen McCartney was quoted as saying in a statement, “This painful incident reminds us of the ongoing legacy of racism and bias in which people of color are targeted while simply going about the business of their daily lives [when believed to be a man, during the summer at a women’s college, in an otherwise empty building].”
However, the problem is that race wasn’t an issue until Kanoute decided to make it one.
The transcript shows the staff member made absolutely no reference to the person’s race.
I was just walking through here in the front foyer of [REDACTED] and we have a person sitting there laying down in the living room area over here. I didn’t approach her or anything but um he seems to be out of place … umm … I don’t see anybody in the building at this point and uh I don’t know what he’s doing in there just laying on the couch.
Again, this is during the summer when there aren’t really students around, so it looked suspicious. The police asked a couple of questions, found out that Kanoute belonged there, and reported back. There was no danger, no risk, and no problem…
…until the perpetually aggrieved decided to make it a thing.
Well, let’s just play a quick game. What do you think would have happened if that had been someone with nefarious intent and the staff member hadn’t reported it because he or she was scared to call the police on a black person in a suspicious situation?