Racist incident unveiled

Racist incident unveiled

After four rings, the call went to Leonard Brown’s voicemail. It was Sunday, Sept. 24, at 12:17 a.m.

“OK, is this the African-American studies?” asked a voice that is still unidentified. “Well, you know what, you African motherfuckers need to go back over to Africa. I’m sick of you motherfuckers taking our jobs. Y’all need to go fuck your fucking selves and quit being niggers like you usually are. Now go back to Africa or you’re going to get your bung hole ‘butilated’ [spelled phonetically].”

Then a second voice spoke: “I have nothing against niggers’ ‘mommas.’ I got one hanging in my family tree.”

“Goodbye, el negro.”

“Go back to Africa, motherfucker!”

The message ended there, a few hours after the 29th annual John Coltrane Memorial Concert, which Brown, an associate professor in African-American studies and music, co-produced with fellow professor Emmett Price.

Brown listened to the message Monday morning. He then contacted the Office of the University Counsel, which informed the Office of the President. It has been under investigation by the Northeastern Police Department ever since, but Brown said it has not turned up any leads.

Before Brown visited the Faculty Senate Nov. 15, he played the message for only a few people: music department chair Anthony Paul De Ritis; Donnie Perkins, dean and director of the Office of Affirmative Action and Diversity; Vincent Lembo, vice president and university counsel; and President Joseph Aoun.

So when faculty members heard the voicemail played from a boombox on a chair, there was a sense of urgency as President Aoun had written about the voicemail in vague terms – a “recent, distressing incident” on campus – in a letter disseminated to the university community a few days before.

Brown, who has been at Northeastern for 21 years, told the senators he was addressing to “really serve as a catalyst, a catalyst for us to seriously look at where we are and where we aren’t as an institution, and the issues around racism and discrimination.”

Lembo said this was not the only recent act of discrimination.

“We’ve had, in the last couple of weeks, two incidents of graffiti, one anti-Muslim in the Marino Center and one anti-gay in a residence hall,” Lembo said.

When events like these occur, Vice President for Student Affairs Ed Klotzbier said Perkins contacts him and the two start programs in Northeastern’s residence halls.

“We have floor meetings, hall meetings, and we start to have a discussion about what happened and why that’s not tolerated here,” Klotzbier said.

Brown said the voicemail was not an isolated racist attack.

“All the time it gets swept under the rug, some agreement gets made, or they end up where somebody gets convinced that it wasn’t what it was, but this is not the first time that these incidents have happened,” Brown said. “The difference this time is it happened to me, and the way I was raised, and my background, and my people – the last thing we do when something like this happens is

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