As some of you may know I am a member of the Rhodes College Mock Trial team. We had a pretty good season this year and actually competed in the National Championship two weeks ago. Some of the best schools in the country were competing such as Stanford and Yale. Many people seem to think that the more educated a person is the less likely they are to believe in or support blatant racial stereotypes. Unfortunately, this is not the case at all.
We were arguing a libel case in which a celebrity turned politician claimed to have been accused of murder in a breaking news report. One of the strategies we mock trial teams use in order to grasp the attention of the jury, is the use of a theme which relates all the facts of the side of the case we are arguing. Well Yale’s theme for their side of the case was, “White man dead, black man standing…so it must have been murder.” As if the theme was not enough, the guy playing the so-called accused politician was black. Out of a team of seven people there were actually two African American males on the team. I must say this struck a nerve with me. For one, I could not believe that Yale would have the audacity to actually have a theme like this. Secondly, I could not believe that the two black males agreed to this theme. Am I wrong for being disturbed by this?
The latter concerned me more than the former. I guess I kind of expect that sort of thinking from some Caucasians. Maybe that is because I am a minority and I am just accustomed to being stereotyped however, I do my best to defy those stereotypes and not give in to the status quo whenever possible. The fact that the African American males agreed to be represented in such a light upset me most. I understand that Yale’s strategy could have possibly been to point out the problem with racial profiling in the media but considering the case had absolutely nothing to do with race I feel that was a strategy that was not needed and a point that was completely irrelevant. In view of how challenging it is for African American males to reach a high level of success in today’s society, I did not expect two African American males, especially ones who attend one the most stellar institutions in the country, to allow themselves to get pulled back so far. I would like to think that one of their goals is to exceed the status quo and the stereotype. I may have looked too deep into this theme but after hearing it I just could not help how disturbed I felt.
To my surprise, Yale actually ended up as one of the top 10 teams in the country. I could not believe that they were not scored down by any of their judges for this theme. Does this go to show the covert racism in our society?