A word from a “token” columnist

By Paul Cruse III

Aight fam, most of these haters out here talking mess. Acting like I don’t know what’s really hood. Spitting trash like “you just a token” or “you being the token columnist of DI…” You think you bad cuz you post your whack comments online. But on the real I be keeping it rizzle, for sizzle, cuz I speak the trizzle, no lizzles. Call me a “token” … what you mean?

Now, for those who couldn’t understand what was written above, let me reiterate. A lot of online commentators refer to me as “yet another incoherent, uninformed ‘token black’ commentator.” If they are expecting me to write like I did in the beginning of this column, then I am sorry to disappoint them, because I will not fall into the stereotypes that they have placed before me. The fact that I have decent grammar and sentence structure doesn’t make me a “token” black guy. So, if I am not being measured on how “black” I talk or write, then I do not understand what their definition of “token” would be. The general classification of a “token” black guy does not apply to me.

The definition of tokenism is “a practice of limited inclusion of members of a minority group who will not disrupt common ideas or practices.” The implications of this definition would apply to someone similar to Alan Keyes or Clarence Thomas (when referring to blacks).

An example of a token minority at this university would be a person of color who has joined a predominately white fraternity or sorority and doesn’t protest when that group hosts a stereotype-themed exchange that would be offensive to his or her respective ethnic group. Basically, it’s a “pushover” minority that doesn’t provide the group with any of the benefits of having real diversity.

Some people might call a minority “token” because he or she displays characteristics that would normally be categorized as signs of intelligence. Things like being articulate, having exceptional literary skills, or not having an arrest record are not reserved just for white people. There are plenty of minorities who are advocates for their ethnic group and have these qualities. Barack Obama’s oratory talents and charms have turned this freshman senator into a very probable presidential nominee. Even our student trustee, Chime Asonye, who was elected by running on a platform that focuses on minority problems, is an articulate person. Would you consider them to be a “token” just because they are able to communicate effectively?

If you are labeling me a “token” because I work at the DI, where most of my other co-workers are white, then you would be correct, I am a “token” (when using that definition). But that definition is flawed because almost all working minorities are surrounded by a majority of white people. In 1987, the Department of Labor published a report called “Workforce 2000.” This report shows a substantial increase in minorities in the work force. The report states that more predominately white corporations and institutions are hiring an increasing number of Asians, blacks and Latinos each year.

So if these minorities are being brought into these mostly white environments, would they be considered “tokens” as well?

I’d assume that people who call me a token would label any future minority columnists the same. So my question is: Would you rather have no minority columnist work at the DI? Because Fall 2007 statistics show that roughly 27 percent of students who self-reported their ethnicity to the University identified themselves as black, Latino, Asian American, or Native American (and there are roughly 10 columnists), I find it very appropriate that at least one minority on this campus is qualified to write for the DI. But if you’d rather see no minority DI columnists, you would probably prefer there were no minorities at this university.

I wouldn’t be surprised if you are a big proponent of racial segregation and quite possibly like to see all “foreigners” exported from this country. And if that is the case, then I have a name for you.