TW: Sexual Assault
The two aspects of School Daze that really rubbed me the wrong way were its handling of queer issues and its handling of sexual assault. In School Daze, Lee sought to portray HBCU life in all of its complexities. However, in doing so, I feel he used the issue of sexual violence and gay identity as props for his larger point. This really rubbed me the wrong way because I felt it did a disservice to both of these incredibly important issues. For that reason, I think it’s important to talk about these two issues in the context of HBCU life in the present. These are such important issues and they deserve to be discussed as more than just a plot point.
The problem of sexual assault has been gaining more attention in the AUC (Atlanta University Center- home to both Spelman and Morehouse) in the last year. This has been purely due to the fact that student survivors have been spoken up and broken the silence. One example of this is an incredibly powerful protest by a queer student survivor at Morehouse.
In January, Anita Badejo wrote a powerful article about what happens when women report their sexual assaults at HBCUs, Spelman in particular. It describes the issue of “brotherhood” and “sisterhood” that often gets used to sweep issues under the rug when they arise between Spelhouse undergrads.
Finally, this article by Hannah Giorgis illuminates the experiences of trans and gender non-conforming people who go to Morehouse (a historically black all-male college). The author does a wonderful job of centering the experiences of folks who almost never have voice in the discussion of “The Morehouse Man.”