Yale teacher resigns because of political correctness debate fallowing her statements regarding students’ rights of being offensive. Erika Christakis is an expert and lecturer in early childhood education.
Before Halloween, Yale’s Committee of Intercultural Affairs advised students to be sensitive to other cultures and not wear costumes that would symbolize cultural appropriation or cultural misrepresentation such as turbans, war paint, blackface or redface, feathered headdresses or other people-mocking costumes.
Erika Christakis disagreed with this approach, arguing that students shouldn’t be ceding the control over Halloween costumes to the institutional forces. She wrote an email in which she was defending young people’s rights of being inappropriate and even offensive.
After her email, Erika Christakis has been confronted by a group of students arguing that Yale is not only an intellectual space, but it is also a home for its students who should be able to feel safe and respected, no matter their cultural or ethnic background.
Fallowing the protest, Christakis has taken the decision to retire from teaching, according to a statement issued by the university this week. Her husband, also a professor at Yale’s department of sociology has also announced that he will take a break of one semester.
The statement issued by the university claims that Yale is a place where the freedom of speech is a core value and both Christakis are welcomed back at any time.
After Christakis’ email, a group of students has been stopped from attending a fraternity party that was opened for “white girls only”. These two incidents have triggered the debate over racial insensitivity and also some campus protests.
What Christakis and other defenders of the “freedom of speech” do not take into consideration is that someone’s freedom of speech, such as wearing a mocking Native American costume on Halloween actually hurts people by reinforcing the stereotypes and the structural racism faced by Native Americans on a daily basis.
Regarding this issue, since decades ago there have been many protests against “Indian mascots” and “indian names” considered very offensive and inacceptable by the Native American community. Most of them have been changed and are not in use any more while others are still under debate.
Using symbols of the Native American culture and of any other cultures for entertainment purpose by people who are not part of that culture is cultural appropriation and it is highly offensive. It reinforces the systems of dominance that have been used to colonize and oppress those people during the history.
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