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An Awkward Moment

By Olatunji Dare ’77
Professor of Journalism, Bradley University

My first substantive lecture at the School shook my faith in Columbia and in the attributes that had earned it global renown..

It was the editing course, and my section was taught by an adjunct, William Taylor, then an editor for the New York Daily News, I believe.

He began by relating how, among the people of the Congo, the belief was that the best way to enjoy he flesh of a white person was to barbecue it.  Then he spoke of another African people who believed  that white flesh tasted best when fried.

I squirmed in my seat, as I believe the only other black student in the class, Lloyd Goodridge, must have done as well.  

Apparently catching himself, Taylor said he had just permitted himself an "ethnic joke," adding, by way of advice to the class, that we should not indulge in "ethnic jokes."

To think that I came all the way from Nigeria to be made the butt of such an unkind
"ethnic joke" on the first day of class, to no purpose at all, and at Columbia's  Graduate School of Journalism, of all places!

At the end of the class, a fellow student -- Maria "Maggie" Rivas I believe it was -- came over to me and asked earnestly  whether I was from the Congo.  She probably  felt reassured by my answer that I was not.   In retrospect,  I  wish I had told her I was!

Posted by: AlumniAlumni April 2012

One Comment

  1. Posted 04.20.12 at 1:44 pm | Permalink

    I don’t recall a William Taylor in management at the DN at that time, though that description would fit the late Richard Blood. But racism was rampant in the NYC news papers — all of them had separate pay scales for white and black reporters. “Nigger Jokes” and other insulting remarks were often heard coming from the editors’ and white reporters.

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