Revolution #272, June 17, 2012
From a reader:
On the Persecution of Dr. Christian Head at UCLA
Imagine being a surgeon, going to work every day, having to focus on real life-and-death concerns of your patients, yet constantly having to look over your shoulder for insults and humiliations, big and small, because of being a Black man in America? Welcome to the prestigious UCLA Medical Center.
A YouTube video titled “African American Doctor Depicted as Gorilla at UCLA Event” went up online on May 10, 2012 and has gone viral. It documents the incident that is the racial discrimination basis of a lawsuit filed by Dr. Christian Head against the UCLA Board of Regents. And as of today (June 7), it has received over 208,000 views—or over 52,000 views per week so far.
A petition on the website change.org in support of Dr. Head, has been signed by well over 100,000 people from all over the U.S. (and some internationally) in less than a month.
And a rally was held at UCLA on May 30 called by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), the UCLA Afrikan Student Union, and the UCLA Black Alumni Association. Dr. Head spoke about how he had faced discrimination, harassment, retaliation, as well as intentional emotional stress at work.
In the YouTube video, Dr. Head painfully recounts a slideshow presented at an event sponsored by the UCLA Medical Center in 2006. He stated “The final slide was a photo…of a gorilla on all fours, with my head Photoshopped onto the gorilla, with a smile on my face, and a Caucasian man, completely naked, sodomizing me from behind, and my boss’s head Photoshopped on the person, smiling.”
Dr. Head said he had confronted his boss after the incident, who brushed it off, and according to Dr. Head, the harassment and insults continued, with one of his bosses referring to him as “an affirmative action hire.” After six years, he felt he had no recourse except to file his lawsuit in April 2012, rather than stay within the university redress process, which he calls “untrustworthy.”
Dr. Head is the only African-American surgeon at the UCLA Neck and Head Department, and only one of two tenured African-American teaching surgeons at the UCLA Medical School out of over 200 there.
Deeming someone “an affirmative action hire” is meant to denigrate him/her as inferior. But in the 1960s, there was a fierce battle on U.S. college campuses for affirmative action in order for non-white students to get into universities, to offset the whole legacy and reality of white supremacy in education. Affirmative action has been viciously and continuously attacked since, leading to it being overall dismantled today.
Doesn’t this help to show how this capitalist-imperialist system won’t and can’t grant even the minimal kind of equality, such as affirmative action, to Black people? And how many more generations have to go through these kinds of battles over and over again?
Anyone who thinks Dr. Head’s case is an isolated incident should recall the racist frat boys “Compton Cookout” at UC San Diego a couple of years ago, and the appearances of nooses on campus—also all passed off as a joke. One Black UCLA student commented that he has never been called a nigger more times than since he began attending UCLA.
This incident against Dr. Head is not unlike having a noose appear at such elite institutions of “higher learning.” It is not unlike what happened to Dr. Henry Louis Gates at Harvard some years ago—of being arrested at his own home—then further insulted by Obama’s “beer summit” with the white cop who arrested him, as if it’s just a misunderstanding among “the boys.” It is against the backdrop of a larger society atmosphere where Black people in general are being demonized and criminalized.
The atmosphere for all this has been whipped up for some years by the attacks on affirmative action where today there are miniscule numbers of Black students enrolled at campuses like UCLA, other than in the athletic department. And then there is the larger societal atmosphere of pervasive and intensified white supremacy throughout American society—in the age of Obama and supposed post-racial colorblindness.
Some UCLA staff and administrators have indicated privately that their attempts to come to the support of Dr. Head have been suppressed, that their emails were being monitored, with them getting phone calls from the campus legal department. The administration is clearly worried about being exposed as a deeply white supremacist institution—just like the rest of America—even if you have “made it” as a surgeon.
This should serve as yet another wake-up call (as if one is needed) that protest and resistance is needed on the college campuses and throughout society against such outrages—connecting the dots as to why in reality “the whole damn system is guilty,” not just a few racist doctors or even the university administration/administrators as a whole. It should be another reminder (as if yet another one is needed) that we need to “fight the power, and transform the people, FOR REVOLUTION.”
The story of the humiliation and insult of Dr. Christian Head should be yet another testimony to the need for everyone to confront the urgency of projecting and promoting BA Everywhere all over the country this month—as part of realizing BAsics 1:13.
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