“Life of a Klansman: A Family History of White Supremacy” by Edward Ball has been widely hailed as anti-racist, but the title triggered students who didn’t understand the book.
Edward Ball is the author of a new book called ‘Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy’ which explores ugly, racist aspects of his own family’s past. You would think this is a book which would appeal to progressive college students.
At Tulane, a talk by Ball has been canceled for now, because student critics were outraged by the very idea of this event.
Robby Soave writes at Reason:
Tulane Canceled a Talk by the Author of an Acclaimed Anti-Racism Book After Students Said the Event Was ‘Violent’
Life of a Klansman: A Family History of White Supremacy is the latest book by Edward Ball, whose award-winning 1998 book Slaves in the Family traces the histories of people enslaved by Ball’s own ancestors. In Klansman, Ball tells the story of a racist great-grandfather who joined the Ku Klux Klan.
The New York Times hailed it as “a haunting tapestry of interwoven stories that inform us not just about our past but about the resentment-bred demons that are all too present in our society today,” and the anti-racism scholar Ibram X. Kendi participated in a virtual discussion about it with Ball. Tulane University was slated to host another such event, featuring Ball and Lydia Pelot-Hobbs, an assistant professor of geography and African American studies.
That event was supposed to take place tonight, but the university opted to postpone it following blinkered outrage from students who insisted that the event was “not only inappropriate but violent towards the experience of Black people in the Tulane community and our country.” Other members of the Tulane community called it “harmful and offensive,” and demanded its cancellation. Still others said the university should apologize and take action against whoever approved the event.
Do these students even understand the point of the book? Soave outlines some the specific objections:
“The last thing we need to do is allow someone who is even reflecting on the hatred of their ancestors to speak about white supremacy, even if their efforts come from a place of accountability,” one student wrote on Instagram.
“There is nothing that a book on white supremacy written by the descendant of a Klansman can do to promote or influence an anti-racism atmosphere,” wrote another.
Members of Tulane’s student government posted the following message on Instagram:
Last night, members of the USG Executive Board and the School of Liberal Arts Government were made aware of the Life of a Klansman event planned for Thursday, August 6th. This event is not only inappropriate but violent towards the experience and work of Black people in the Tulane community and our country.
After hearing about the event, we sent SLA leadership the following email to which they have not responded. This is an outright disregard of Black identities on campus. It is imperative that as a student body we hold our administrators accountable. As students, we need to uphold and support the demands of @thetbsu and hold our administrators to a higher standard.
Tulane University promoted the event on the school website. The page has since been taken down, but we found the Google cache:
National Book Award Winner Edward Ball exposes uncomfortable truths in new book
“Anyone who thinks that to have a Klansman among relatives is a strange or deviant thing may be surprised by the reality,” wrote National Book Award Winner and former Gulf South Writer in the Woods Edward Ball in his new book, Life of a Klansman: A Family History in White Supremacy.
In this work, Ball recounts the story of his great great-grandfather Polycarp Constant Lecorgne, a working-class white French New Orleans Creole who terrorized and threatened African-descended people through his participation in the Ku Klux Klan and the White League.
Ball’s Slaves in the Family, first published in 1998, describes the writer’s search for African American descendants whose ancestors his family enslaved. Life of a Klansman presents an intimate window into the life of one ordinary man and his journey towards white supremacist violence and terror in 19th century Louisiana. According to Ball, “Klansman is a personal story and a family tale, but it is also an origin story about white supremacy. Where was it born? How did it grow up? Through the life of one man, I try to tell a story about the upbringing of whiteness.”
This is a perfect example of the mindlessness of the cancel culture mob. They simply see the word ‘klan’ and then react with outrage.
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