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Erin Harper: Language on The Morehouse vs. Howard Rivalry Fan Page is Getting Downright Embarrassing

by on August 6, 2011

Erin 4

by Erin Harper, YourBlackWorld.com 

I did not graduate from Morehouse College or Howard University. Neither did Sean Combs or many of this week’s readers of the “Howard v. Morehouse: Nation’s Football Classic Trash Talk” group page on Facebook. However, while at Spelman, I DID take one psychology class at Morehouse, served on the Miss Maroon & White court, and strolled in front of Kilgore Hall to Juvenile’s “400 Degreez” album enough to earn me at least 36 credit hours in Drama and Dance. Thus, I attended Morehouse College and I have granted myself with the right and the privilege to defend the institution whenever there is a need.

Today, public defense of “The House” is not necessary. Nor is public defense the intent of this commentary; much like the intent of the Howard v. Morehouse Trash Talk page was not to perpetuate some very harmful stereotypes about race, class, gender, sexuality, etc. But it has. Originally, the group was an open forum for alumni to express opinions grounded in light-hearted rivalry, fun, and respect. In fact, many of the original comments were far from the typical sports trash talk that you might read between alumni from two Big Ten schools. The battle of intellect and wit displayed on the Howard v. Morehouse page encapsulated eloquent written exchanges between some of the greatest minds of our time. However, as with traditional sports rivalries, what began as harmless banter grew into comments that could result in some very serious side effects in some cases.

Sports trash talk between spectators, commentators, and players is as American as the Debt Ceiling apple pie. Nevertheless, as someone who enjoys frequent trash talk, roasting, playing the dozens, etc., I am clearer now than ever before that these “word battles” are an art and a science. It takes a certain skill level not to (a) reach for libelous and defamatory terms to express an opinion and/or solicit a cheap laugh, or (b) be offended easily, without examining the context of a remark. As the Howard v. Morehouse group membership increased, it became apparent that many people were unaware of the original climate of the group, as some people expressed ill-mannered and/or emotional sentiments, leading other group members to post that they were downright offended and embarrassed. I concur that some comments were reprehensible and probably should not be expressed in any forum, public or private.

In honor of Dr. Wacka F. Flame’s Honorary Geometry Degree from Howard University Dartmouth College, I will provide you with a few geometric proofs to illustrate my position on a few critical issues that surfaced this week. I never quite understood proofs, so instead of consulting GoogleMath® to make myself look smarter than I really am, let’s just use equal signs.

Gay Slander and Homophobia = Tired

Elitism = Stale

Cursing when we can’t think of better words = Sad AND Embarrassing

Black on Black Crime = (Wait, who still says “Black on Black Crime”?)

Sexism = UGH!

[Feel free to add your own proof here]

I appreciate how the Morehouse v. Howard page has sparked discussions on critical issues in our community. Furthermore, I appreciate how some discussants have turned the page into an opportunity for alumni to contribute financial or human resources to their institutions and current students. I also applaud the undergraduate thinkers who have joined in, a great deal of whom have beckoned for us “old folks” to grow up! Although I do not plan on growing up anytime soon, I think there is value in stepping back to think about how the next generation of thinkers views us as we are “cussin’ and carryin’ on”.

I think we should continue to dialogue in public forums. However, out of respect for ourselves and the foremothers and forefathers who made it possible for us to attend these fine historically Black pedagogical structures, let us be respectful in our jousting. Let us not poo-poo on the human rizzights of our brothers and sisters. Let us represent ourselves in accordance with the standards and values of our great institutions.

Erin Harper is a graduate of Spelman College and a Doctoral Candidate at Georgia State University in School Psychology and Educational Policy Studies. Follow Erin on twitter @E_Harp_

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9 Comments
  1. ADRIAN HARRIS OF GRAMBLING STATE UNIVERSITY permalink

    HAIL!!!! GOD THE FATHER ALMIGHTY!!!! HAIL!! RAINBOW PEOPLE OF THE SEPIA SPECTRUM!!—-HMMMMMM—SO, THEY MEET HIM—HMMMM–YOU KNOW WHO I,M TALKING ABOUT OF COURSE SEPIA PEOPLE. BUT I’LL SAY IT ANYWAY; THE ONE WHO INBEDDED HIMSELF INSIDE OUR SPIRITS AND PHYSCHOLOGIES JUST IN THE HEAVENLY UNLIKELY CASE WE GOT FREE. INTRODUCING—THE WHITE CREAM IN EVERY “OREO”, THE SCREAM AND THE HORROR THAT PRODUCED IT; “SLAVE MASTER”-THE DEMON WHO IS NOW WITHIN. HE CAME OUT OF THEM AND BECAME THEM. HOW DID HE GET IN US IN THE FIRST PLACE? YOU REMEMBER. OUR ANCESTORS TOLD US. HERE IT IS, THE STEPS HE USED—1)BEHIND THE COTTON CURTAIN 4.5 MILLION HUMAN BEINGS WERE “SYSTEMATICALLY” “DEPRIVED OF EVERY RIGHT OF PERSONALLITY”. 2)”VICE”, “IMMORALITY”, AND “BRUTALITY” WERE “INSTITUTIONALIZED OR SERVED UP AS REPLACEMENT FOR OUR LOVING PERSONALITIES ECT…” 3)HE MADE IT A “CRIME” FOR A BLACK MAN, WOMAN OR “CHILD” “TO READ”. 4) A “CRIME” TO GIVE THEM A “BIBLE”, ‘BIBLE’, “BIBLE”, ‘BIBLE’—THAT’S WHAT HE’S AFRAID OF–DEATHLY AFRAID OF. HELL, GRAB A KORAN. 5) FEAR, TOIL, THE LASH, A LITTLE ASH CAKE AND BACON, AND FIELDS STRECTING FROM CAN’T SEE TO CAN’T SEE. ALL EQUAL THE MOST DANGEORUS FORM OF OREO(WHITE MAN’S PERSONALITY) KNOW TO CREATION CALLED “THE NIGGER”. THE PEICE OF HIS OWN WHITE HELLISH SLAVE MASTER SELF. WE DIDN’T GET ALL OF HIM OUT!!!! HE MADE SURE OF THAT. BACK TO CHURCH, BACK TO MOSQUES OR TEMPLE. WE HAVE SOME UNFINISHED BUSINESS WITH THIS M***THERF***ER Y’ALL. LET’S GET THROUGH WITH IT. COME ON, WE CAN DO IT. WE ALLWAYS DID IT. LET’S GO!!!

  2. Kiss The Baby permalink

    Corect me if I’m wrong, but it’s a TRASH TALK page. If you want more uplifting discourse that doesn’t hurt feelings, create a “MORE UPLIFTING DISCOURSE THAT DOESN’T HURT FEELINGS AND IS RESPECTFUL” group. Btw, all of your “proofs” are the subject material of some of the greatest and funniest comedians ever. And also btw, your judgmental tone seems elitist. There is a time and place for everything, and when it’s time to talk trash, all is fair in (love and) war. Don’t come to a boxing match and then ask your opponent not to punch you in the face.

  3. Shaka permalink

    This is very well written and true. First let me say I’m not a graduate of either institution, I’m a graduate of Clark Atlanta University.
    I read some of the posts because they were flooding my newsfeed, in the beginning they were funny. You know the saying “All fun and games until someone gets hurt,” Yea that’s what happened. It seems like someone or someones got their little feelings hurt and/or ego crushed and took it way to the left. I think it’s important to respect everyone especially yourselves. Blessings to everyone!

  4. Shaka permalink

    @Kiss the baby
    “Don’t come to a boxing match and ask your opponent not to punch you in the face.”

    I understand the point you’re trying to make. Do you remember Tyson biting Holyfield’s ear? I think the point Ms. Harper is trying to make is that there are limits to everything, trash talking or not.

  5. Lynn permalink

    Hear! hear! and well said Ms. Harper.

  6. Kiss The Baby permalink

    @Shaka Do you remember “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me?” The limits should be placed on allowing your feelings to get hurt by someone you don’t even know and who doesn’t know you. It ain’t that serious, especially if you don’t have self-esteem issues nor the need to seek validation from others. And if you can’t handle a no-holds-barred cage match, then don’t sign up. Be a spectator.

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