Making the rounds this week is the news that Columbia University (yes, that Columbia University), is hosting six separate commencement ceremonies. They will be segregated by race, sexuality, and income level as the students self-identify.
Columbia University is offering virtual ceremonies for Native American, “LGBTQIA+,” Asian, “Latinx,” black, and “First-generation and/or low income” students over the last week of April, described as “Multicultural Graduation Ceremonies.”
They cover graduates of Columbia College, Columbia Engineering, General Studies and Barnard College, its sibling women’s college. Students must register by March 21 to get their “multicultural graduation gift,” such as stoles, tassels and pins, and by March 31 to be listed as participants.
The virtual segregated ceremonies do not replace ceremonies for the whole Ivy League university and its individual schools, but rather provide “a more intimate setting for students and guests to gather, incorporate meaningful cultural traditions and celebrate the specific contributions and achievements of their communities,” the page says.
This reduction of our humanity to its basest characteristics, those things often out of our control to do anything about, offends me. My Christian belief in God’s ability to confer on us a glorious, more transcendent identity in which to live recoils at this nonsense, until I remember that the identity I hold most important and precious is not one that most people are willing to embrace. Humans like regressing to the mean, even as we give lip service to desiring to “be all that we can be”. But I digress.
As I thought about this insanity, I remembered that there was a time when people with a bit of notoriety would speak unpalatable truths. They were even caught on camera telling these truths! Two in particular are Morgan Freeman, who referred to the idea of Black History month as “ridiculous” for valid reasons, and Denzel Washington, who also told some inconvenient truths about some of the roots of “historical disparities”. The first video is a minute long. The second is 10 minutes.
I may be wrong, but if I had to wager, I can almost guarantee you that by now, Morgan Freeman has walked back some. if not all of this. It is a few years old, after all. Our entertainment royalty can barely stand a little push back against anything they say, especially when it’s true.
Demzel might hold his own on some of this, but who knows?