Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, has had its share of unwanted national attention in the past few years. First, the Don Imus scandal in 2007, where the radio personality labeled the women’s basketball team with racist language. (I am not going to repeat his inexcusable phrase here; if you do not know this history, use your favorite search engine.)
Next, in 2010, the tragic suicide of Tyler Clementi, a Rutgers student cyber bullied by his homophobic roommate. Now, 2 months after Rutgers and the Tyler Clementi Foundation announced the creation of the Tyler Clementi Center at Rutgers, we learn of another case of homophobic behavior, this time by the Rutgers men’s basketball coach, Mike Rice.
What may surprise you is that in all 3 instances, while not approving of the behaviors, I do not really blame the perpetrators. The racism, sexism, and homophobia that is institutionalized and permitted to continue in this country are to blame. Every one of us who remains silent when hearing a slur, a supposed joke, an outright case of discrimination, is to blame. If silence is approval, many of us are, in effect, Mike Rice. Continue reading