U of O Watch mission, in the words of Foucault...

"One knows … that the university and in a general way, all teaching systems, which appear simply to disseminate knowledge, are made to maintain a certain social class in power; and to exclude the instruments of power of another social class. … It seems to me that the real political task in a society such as ours is to criticise the workings of institutions, which appear to be both neutral and independent; to criticise and attack them in such a manner that the political violence which has always exercised itself obscurely through them will be unmasked, so that one can fight against them." -- Foucault, debating Chomsky, 1971.

U of O Watch mission, in the words of Socrates...

"An education obtained with money is worse than no education at all." -- Socrates

video of president allan rock at work

Friday, February 11, 2011

Did Professor Joanne St. Lewis act as Allan Rock's house negro?

February is Black History Month in Canada and the US. UofOWatch believes that it is the right time not only to honour Black Americans who fought for social justice against masters but also to out Black Americans who were and continue to be house negroes to masters.

The term "house negro" was defined by Malcolm X in his famous "The House Negro and the Field Negro" speech (see video below).

The same spirit prevailed when civil rights icon Ralph Nader suggested that US President Obama needed to decide if he was going to be an Uncle Tom: HERE.

The Student Appeal Centre (SAC) of the student union at the University of Ottawa today released documents obtained by an access to information (ATI) request that suggest that law professor Joanne St. Lewis acted like president Allan Rock's house negro when she enthusiastically toiled to discredit a 2008 SAC report [alternate LINK] about systemic racial discrimination at the university.

See today's SAC article HERE. See ATI documents released today by the SAC HERE.

At the time, the St. Lewis report was critiqued by UofOWatch: HERE.

The newly released ATI records are disturbing far beyond the tenured professor St. Lewis' uncommon zeal to serve the university administration:
The ATI records expose a high level cover up orchestrated by Allan Rock himself to hide the fact that the St. Lewis efforts were anything but "independent", as she characterizes her report on the first page.
The SAC article posted today quotes Rock from the ATI documents explaining to his staff how to preserve the appearance of an independent report and the importance of preserving this appearance, in true experienced federal politician style.

This is a most damning revelation against the former Minister of Justice and former Canadian Ambassador to the United Nations, one that should disturb any university student learning about professional ethics.

Ironically, the original SAC report was about racial discrimination regarding academic fraud appeals; such as when an academic misrepresents his/her work as "independent" when it is verifiably and factually not "independent" (by any stretch!).

Former VP-Academic Robert Major is also found stating to a concerned student that the "independent" St. Lewis report will definitively resolve the matter (of the troublesome SAC report). In his November 2008 email Major actually says:

"The University has received and will make public this week an evaluation, by an independent assessor, of the report of the Student Appeals Centre. I believe this analysis will answer your questions on the mandate of the Senate Appeals Committee and on the whole appeals process. I invite you to read it carefully."
When the bosses have such high professional ethics why would professors be any different?

More on the professional ethics of the bosses HERE.

[Correction made on April 30, 2012: "nontenured" was changed to "tenured".]


Anonymous said...

This is the most absurdly racist thing I've ever read. Please refrain from using "freedom of speech" as a curtain to hide behind when making suck malicious, and racist comments.

Annemarie said...

Regardless of one's opinion of the independence and content of Prof. St-Lewis's report, your labeling of her as a 'house negro' is beyond inflammatory, Denis. I know you like to be provocative, but "celebrating" Black History Month by appropriating said history (as a white man, natch) to insult her AND make light of slave history by using its terminology this way is total bullshit that needs to be called out.

Anonymous said...

Who are you to use that term? Your racist comment has lost all validity of any other critique you are trying to make. And for the record I doubt Malcolm X would have been onside with you about this one.

CHECK YOUR PRIVILEGE RANCOURT cause this is straight up racist.

Anonymous said...

"This is the most absurdly racist thing I've ever read. Please refrain from using "freedom of speech" as a curtain to hide behind when making suck malicious, and racist comments."

whaaa whaaa, typical establishment retoric. Freedom of speech also includes views you disagree with. I for one am quite tired of constantly hearing and seeing the "racism" card being played to stifle any debate, here and even more so in the USA.

Gwen M said...

Excuse me??????????? HOUSE NEGRO????????????????

Anonymous said...

Watever point you were trying to bring up (which I personnally think had some substance) lost its value by you referring to Mrs. Lewis as a "house negro". This is not freedom of speech but rather an attempt on your part to publicly disrespect and humiliate not only the prof but the black community as a whole. I hope you getting fired will give you some time to reflect upon your actions.

Anonymous said...

A white (by default privileged) man labeling black people "house negro" is just as absurd as labeling black people "field negro".

Denis Rancourt said...

I am hoping that we can agree on this TheFreeDictionary definition.

1. The belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others.
2. Discrimination or prejudice based on race.

To accuse someone of racism is a very serious charge, given the seriousness of racism. It seems to me that sufficiently strong evidence and a coherent argument would be needed before an individual contributes to this kind of racism accusation mobbing.

Language in itself is not racist unless it's use expresses racism. It is the communication and the intent of the communication that must be evaluated.

Racism is not hurtful language. You can see in the definition that responses of emotional pain are not the basis of the definition.

Are not all whites who are not fighting against racist economic apartheid racist? To the extent that I am not fighting hard enough for the latter, I may be a racist. My criticism of St. Lewis is part of this fight.

For informed commenters to use intimidation to limit my non-racist expression on the basis that I am white would be racist.

I believe most commenters are simply not informed and are therefore only irresponsibly participating in mobbing without being racist.

I am entitled to express my views about which black persons are "house negroes" in my opinion even if I am white. I will not be deprived of one of the most powerful and meaningful expressions of class analysis in cantonized societies.

Suck it up and start thinking for yourselves.

Kimalee said...

I've heard quite a bit about you, Mr. Rancourt and I've actually come to respect a few stances that you have taken. But for you (as a privileged white man) to use such a derogatory term only pushes a racist agenda and completely takes away all of the substance of your argument. The discussion around the independence of the St. Lewis review has now become a moot point because you chose to be a jackass!

Anonymous said...

You accused a black woman of being a house negro because of a report that she worked on discounting systematic racial discrimination at the University of Ottawa.

Personally, I know that racial discrimination does occur at the University of Ottawa. However, as a privileged white man (no matter how “down with the struggle” you think you are), for you to accuse her of aiding and abetting the continuation of slavery or racism is the height of arrogance.

Who are you to tell a black woman that she is not behaving according to the script that you believe black people are supposed to follow? Who are you to compare her possible minimization of racism at the University of Ottawa to her propping up SLAVERY? For you, as a privileged white man, to believe that you have the insight into the black struggle to know when a black individual is or is not behaving according to your arbitrary code of black behavior is stupid. Your communication and intent IS racist and rooted in your own ignorance.

You pathetically high-jacked black history month in order to demean a black woman and further your own agenda.

It is not racist that you, as a white man, are unable to call a black person a house negro. In fact, it is racist that you think you can.

Denis Rancourt said...

@Anonymous (previous post):

Yes, I see, your logic is clearly expressed.

Oh, and what is my "agenda"?

Anonymous said...

@ Denis,

I did not mean that you had some sort of nefarious agenda. The purpose of this blog is clearly stated at the top. Although I disagree with many of your opinions, I think you have some legitimate critisms of the way the University of Ottawa is run. I do believe that this was a racist and very poorly chosen way to criticize Prof. St. Lewis and her report.

Anonymous said...

I partially agree that the main message of this post was undermined by using the inflammatory term. I believe it is fair game to question whether Prof. St-Lewis made a wise choice by participating in this process, since the notion of "independence" would seem to be undercut by employment status and the potential heightened sense of beholding that comes with pre-tenure status.

Yet, stronger questions should be aimed at the administration for engaging in a charade. An independent report would surely require an author whose salary was not paid by the institution, and whose job-security was, in status (pre-tenure), tenuous.

Yet none of the above, explains why tones of race were raised in characterizing the situation. I suppose, those tones were pre-established by the topic of the "independent" report, but it's not clear why race became such a central element of Rancourt's provocative post.

I suppose it is tempting to conclude that the administration sought out an author with the right pedigree to counter the claims of racism. And if that was the case, I could understand how one may begrudge St-Lewis for participating under such circumstance.

But how are we to know if all that speculation (administration sought out someone with the right pedigree, the candidate, knowing the agenda, agreed) was remotely accurate. Surely we have to give the benefit of the doubt to St-Lewis. Surely that would council against using such inflammatory terms (which do appear to pre-judge the circumstance).

I would argue that invoking the term "house negro" was a poor choice. But the poor choice (we all make mistakes) does not make Rancourt a racist.

Anonymous said...

Rancourt's use of the term "house negro" was not a poor choice. It was specifically chosen for it's provocative value - this methodology is consistent with Rancourt's ideology as exhibited by his other blog posts.

What was a mistake on Rancourt's part was choosing a term which itself became the focus of discussion rather than leading into the actions of St-Lewis and the University's administration.

A balance of probabilities would have a reasonable person see St-Lewis' actions motivated by financial incentives, professional advancement, and societal privilege rather than an issue of race.

Perhaps the University's administration wanted the public image of having a black person refute racism, but that doesn't imply that St-Lewis had the same motive. There is no indication that St-Lewis is not looking to actively alienate herself from the visible minority community that she belongs to.

HOWEVER, the subject matter of what St-Lewis is dealing with IS relevant to Rancourt playing the race card because, whether motivated by race or not, in effect what St-Lewis is doing is supporting a system that is inherently racist: St-Lewis is actively working against the "negro" community that she belongs to.

Anonymous said...

You're an idiot Rancourt! Any respect I had for you in down the drain. As an African-Canadian, your term is offensive and ignorant, and displays your subtle racist mentality in using the term. You do not belong to any visible minority group so please stop watching movies and television shows that display white Hollywood's version of how "black people" are supposed act. Maybe St. Lewis is just a douche, but why make racist assumptions about her actions based on the colour of her skin. It's funny how some people who purport to be "educated" are sometimes the most ignorant of all. Grow up Rancourt!

Anonymous said...

"A white (by default privileged) man labeling..."

= White men are privileged, so shut your mouth.

"You do not belong to any visible minority group so please..."

= You're white so shut your mouth.

"For you, as a privileged white man, to believe that you have the insight into the black struggle..."

= For you to have an opinion on any race other than your own means you're a racist, so shut your mouth.

Real racism is evident all over these comments, and none of them have to do with Mr. Rancourt. Check your bigotry at the door...none of you have experienced slavery or *legalized* discrimination (being specifically excluded for the Canadian Human Rights Charter for being white and a man, being refused equal opportunities for employment or financial assistance under the guise of "equality" and "affirmative action" for being white and a man, etc.), so when you actually have something to complain about then maybe you can open your hypocritical mouths.

And twenty bucks says that anyone who responds to this comment will continue to bring up slavery, or discrimination, or racism, without even attempting to verify for yourselves whether or not what I say is true. And even if you do, you'll justify your own bigotry, by going right back to these old stalwarts that I know for a fact NONE of you have experienced.

In other words, you don't give a damn that the real, actual, provable, systemic racism and discrimination in this country is happening against white men. I'm even willing to bet that you'd say we deserve it, or that it's right, or just, or some other such B.S.

And this is all based on what you've read in history books or may have had the privilege of learning from your grandparents, who would've told you that crap like that didn't even take place in Canada (underground railroad lead to here).

The only legal, systemic, acceptable form of racism is against able-bodied white men, and it's all in black and white in your Human Rights Charter. And it's defended by ignorant, small-minded, myopic dipshits who are the first to decry racism -- but only when it applies to THEM.

Anonymous said...

This is disgraceful commentary! I fully support the lawsuit that you are now facing!


As an aside, I am curious whether you will delete this post as I too am exercising my freedom of speech.

Denis Rancourt said...

The more recent comment stream in this matter is HERE

Anonymous said...

I think we should all stand up against anyone who holds the power or helps those who hold the power to the detriment of those who have no power, who can be crushed by the system because they critic those who hold the power or help those who hold the power, no matter which race we are (I am chinese by the way but it should not matter at all in any case.)

The power should be shared by everyone and not only by a few people who hold or help to hold the power.