Brooklyn College professor Robert KC Johnson, a hero to many for his Duke lacrosse case writings, recently published at his Durham-in-Wonderland blog a post concerning Duke University professor Wahneema Lubiano.
KC began the post:
A reader tracked down for me what Group of 88 leader Wahneema Lubiano lists on her Duke webpage as her most recent scholarly “publication”—an interview in an obscure journal called e3w.On May 24 I published KC Johnson Now. I made a number of criticisms of KC’s work, including matters I posted on as far back as 2007. (See, as an example, here.)
And what is it that passes for “scholarship” among this Group of 88’er?
Information about Lubiano’s drinking habits, among other items: “There are so many half-remembered stories and pieces of stories that they jostle each other in my mind into a kind of rich but incoherent mass that’s hard to untangle—late night discussions at each others’ houses over food and drink.” …
KC Johnson Now included this:
I wish KC hadn't made that remark about what he termed Professor Lubiano's “drinking habits.” It wasn't fair to her and reflected very poorly on him.In his lengthy, off-the-mark response KC said concerning Lubiano: (On comment thread of KC Johnson Now)
The incident was actually described by Prof. Lubiano, who discussed, as a scholarly matter, evenings of "food and drink."I’ve just sent KC the following email contained in a link to this post:
I'll try to keep in mind in the future that JinC might believe that it reflects poorly on me to mention embarrassing events about her personal life described as of scholarly significance in her own writings by Prof. Lubiano.
As you know and as anyone who reads the article here will know, professor Lubiano was being interviewed and had been asked if she could recall interesting stories from a time 20 years ago, when she and colleagues would get together to talk about professional matters.
Here’s the entire sentence from the interview:There are so many half-remembered stories and pieces of stories that they jostle each other in my mind into a kind of rich but incoherent mass that’s hard to untangle—late night discussions at each others’ houses over food and drink, different kinds of formal discussion fora on campus especially during the time of the shantytown, continual considerations over what to call the program until finally we had worn ourselves out over various permutations of what came to be Ethnic and Third World Literature program..Most adults over 40 have half-remembered memories of evenings of food and drink with friends.
And when any of them say what Lubiano said, we don’t even know whether the drink they're talking about is alcoholic, non-alcoholic, or a mix of alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, do we?
You took an innocent remark by Lubiano and used it to slime her at the outset of your post.
A thoughtful person wouldn’t do such a thing.
A self-aware scholar, having had what you did called in a public way to her or his attention, would’ve quickly retracted and apologized.
You did neither
Instead, you responded by elaborating your original distortion:I'll try to keep in mind in the future that JinC might believe that it reflects poorly on me to mention embarrassing events about her personal life described as of scholarly significance in her own writings by Prof. Lubiano.The following is a close paraphrase of something Gordon Allport once said:When we speak of others, we may or may not be revealing anything about them, but we are always revealing something about ourselves.You didn’t reveal anything about professor Lubiano’s drinking habits; just some things about yourself.
John in Carolina