Two recent episodes cast more shadow on the legacy of Clemson’s beloved football coach Dabo Swinney, who is the highest paid public employee in the nation, according to ESPN.
On June 6, 2020, while the nation boiled with protests over recent murders of black people by police and racists, was photographed wearing a ‘Football Matters’ shirt. The shirt seems to be making fun of the Black Lives Matter movement, and seems to miss the point that college football is built on the sweat, blood, and injuries of numerous black college students. The photo was posted on Twitter and was quickly removed.
It was also revealed recently that Clemson Assistant Football Coach Danny Pearman used the n-word during a practice in 2016. Pearman apologized after the incident was made public by former player Kanyon Tuttle on Twitter. Swinney has come under fire for not responding to the incident when it occurred.
Very recently, and surprisingly, the untouchable Swinney has responded to these incidents. As one might expect, the response was not an apology, and it was fairly tone-deaf. “It’s has been hurtful to see the pain in my players, to hear it in their voices,” Swinney said. “I know they’re hurting and they have pain for what’s going on in this country and in this world and it’s also hurtful to see our program be attacked, but I know and what I’ve lived my life by is God never says ‘oops.’ He only says ‘ops.’ We have an opportunity to grow to learn to listen to get better and get stronger and that’s what we’ll do.”
As part of the recent protests and uprisings in response to recent murders of black people by police and racist, Clemson faculty, students, and staff are renewing their call to rename the Calhoun Honors College. (See our previous post here.) The movement has gained national attention (with articles from CNN, ESPN, SI, and many other media outlets) due to former Clemson football stars DeAndre Hopkins and Deshaun Watson joining the call.
It is well established that, like Benjamin Tillman, John C. Calhoun was an aggressive, overt, public racist. His name on Clemon’s Honors College is a painful, daily reminder to people of color and their allies of Clemson’s unwillingness to separate itself from its racist origins and past. Please consider signing the petition here.
Like much of the world, we here at DINAMICS grieve over the unwarranted murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Tony McDade, and so many other members of the black community. We are frustrated by the fact that justice is so rare in these situations. We are angered that, in over 400 years since the first slaves were brought to this land, in over 150 years since the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment eliminated slavery, and in over 50 years since the Civil Rights Act and the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., black people are still being murdered by police and bigots at alarming rates.
We acknowledge our privilege and pledge to use it to educate ourselves, our students, our colleagues, and others about the evils of racism. We pledge to use our privilege to push for diversity and inclusivity at Clemson and in the mathematical and statistical sciences.
We recognize that Clemson was founded by racists and slave owners whose names are still emblazoned on our most visible building and our honors college. We acknowledge that Clemson was built by slaves and black prisoners, many of whom died in that labor and were buried in unmarked graves on our very campus where we claim to not tolerate racist ideas but where KKK recruitment fliers are still found regularly.
We at DINAMICS condemn racism and bigotry in the strongest terms. We support our black friends and colleagues, neighbors and strangers. And we absolutely believe that black lives matter.