Larissa Pham: The Architecture of Racism at Yale University – Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics

This tension is not new. It is a product of the systemic racism built into the institution, as ubiquitous as the architecture that characterizes the place in our shared consciousness. “Everyone who enters Yale is reminded that they’re in an environment that is a product of centuries of classism and racism,” Cynthia Hua, who graduated earlier this year, told me. “You can see it in the buildings. They’re symbols of the way society has been stratified—it’s even in their names.” (One of Yale’s residential colleges is named for the nineteenth-century politician John C. Calhoun, who advocated secession and spoke of slavery as a force for good.) And the problem goes beyond architecture—architecture just happens to be its most potent symbol.This breed of racism isn’t showy or overtly violent, which makes it hard to define, like a kind of low-grade radiation that kills slowly. It’s being the only woman of color in a seminar room, or feeling physically unsafe on campus, or having to endure stereotypical assumptions about one’s race in even the most innocuous of situations. Zack Graham, a black student who graduated in 2013, gave me this anecdote: “I showed up for office hours and the TA asked which sport I played—as though the notion that I was a regular student accepted through regular channels was an impossibility.”

Source: Larissa Pham: The Architecture of Racism at Yale University – Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics