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