Mike Adams
Administrators at the University of North Carolina at Wonderland (UNCW) sometimes have a hard time striking a balance between the right of free speech, and the right of minorities, women, and homosexuals never to be offended by anything at any time. Recently, it seems that they were handed an easy case.

The recently released November/December edition of the UNCW Campus Activities and Involvement Calendar included a promotion for an event known as "Open Mic Night." This event simply allows students to get up on stage at the student cafeteria to sing, tell jokes, or exhibit any talent they deem worthy of public display. These nights are usually entertaining and seldom controversial.

However, the graphic used to promote the occasion has proved to be anything but uncontroversial. That is because it shows a picture of what appears (at first glance) to be a monkey singing into a microphone. The nose and mouth resemble a chimpanzee and the singer also has a tail. But upon further examination, it (he?) also has cornrows, an earring, and clothing covering dark skin. In other words, it appears to be a combination of a chimpanzee and a black male.

Naturally, many consider the graphic to be racist. And I agree wholeheartedly.

The graphic could easily be interpreted as suggesting that blacks are intellectually inferior, less evolved, or any number of offensive conclusions. While many accusations of racism are predicated upon watered-down definitions of racism, this one is in line with even the most stringent definition of racism.

The good news is that the Campus Activities and Involvement Center has done the right thing and issued an apology for their "insensitivity and careless oversight" in publishing the graphic. But many who recently read the Center's apology are wondering why the university has not issued similar apologies in the past.

Last February, the Women's Resource Center (WRC) placed a sign in front of the cafeteria with obscene references to the female anatomy (too obscene to reprint) in order to promote a feminist play called The Vagina Monologues. The same office that apologized for the racist graphic was also contacted about the obscene sign sponsored by the WRC. Of course, there was no apology offered for the sign. And the WRC did not remove it after numerous complaints were directed to them.

Mike Adams

Mike Adams is a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and author of Letters to a Young Progressive: How To Avoid Wasting Your Life Protesting Things You Don't Understand.