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Author Topic: Washington & Lee and Racism.  (Read 5928 times)

mjb

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Washington & Lee and Racism.
« on: March 12, 2006, 03:44:29 PM »
So I am a minority with a minority wife with two minority kids wanting to go to law school. I have a good job now and I dont know if i/we could afford going to law school at the big places because of costs of living and tuition. I believe I got good numbers and I could land a sizeable scholarship at Washington and Lee and the cost of living seems really low. I looked into the school and I really like how they seem to run things down there and I'd really like to attend.

Now comes maps.google.com. I realized where Washington and Lee is located. Is this any place for a minority to ever venture into? Should this area be avoided at all costs? Funny enough lexington is right next to a town called lynchburg!!! Do I spare my family burning crosses and look elsewhere? Anyone have any experience with this school and area?

Thanks.

Lenny

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Re: Washington & Lee and Racism.
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2006, 04:19:17 PM »
Wow.  I understand your worries given our location at first glance, but I sincerely hope you are kidding.  Otherwise, your comments suffer from the same prejudices that they bemoan.  I hope you know that very few people (I hope no one, but never say never, right?) that are qualified to get in to W&L Law, or any other law school for that matter, would choose to patronize a place that harbored such beliefs.

Now, to answer your question completely honestly, Lexington is certainly a small, southern town.  The school is named, in part, after Robert E. Lee, if that tells you anything.  That said, you would certainly not be the first minorities to venture down to Lexington.  There are plenty of African-American residents and students.  I certainly can't speak for minorities, but my observation is that while it may be an adjustment from life in a large city, it is far from unbearable.  Your best bet is to find out for yourself.  Come visit the school and the town and ask to speak to or get a tour from an African American student.     

Alamo

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Re: Washington & Lee and Racism.
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2006, 04:38:47 PM »
Let me start by telling you as a white male, I don't have the best perspective for assessing discrimination.  But as someone who grew up in the nearby town of Waynesboro, I do have a lot of perspective on the area.  I grew up there, moved to DC for a few years, and now live in Chicago.  I will most likely be returning to attend LS at W&L. 

Virginia is not the deep south, but there is a fair amount of ignorance in the rural parts.   This is mostly due, I believe, to almost no black residents in the area.  Out of my high school class of 128 students, I think 5 were black.  It's probably gotten a little more diversified since I left 10 years ago, but if you venture far outside of Lexington you're likely to see a lot of Nascar-lovin, cowboy boot and camoflauge wearing rednecks.  You will also see the occasional rebel flag.  If you scan the radio, you will hear many country stations, but also rock, pop and NPR.  You will not see burning crosses - the KKK has been defunct for over 60 years, and never actually burned crosses anyway, it just makes for good fiction. (http://www.kkklan.com/fierycross.htm - it's a historical site, not propaganda)

W&L, however, is a top-25 law school, and based on this influx is far more diverse than the surrounding areas (Jerry Falwell's Liberty University is in Lynchburg - don't go there).  I went to undergrad at UVA, and although it was only 25 miles from my hometown, intellectually and demographically it might as well have been across the country.  I would also say that it is the 21st century, so I don't think things are quite as bad as they used to be.  You'll also find that while country folk have a reputation for being reflexively hostile to outsiders, they treat one another far better than most people who live in cities or the suburbs, and are on-the-whole welcoming towards people who are friendly and trustworthy. 

As an intelligent, family-oriented human being, personally I would love to see you move there, because the only way many people will lose their prejudices is by seeing people face-to-face that don't conform to their preconceived notions.  I think it would be a learning experience for you as well - I got out of my comfort zone moving to a big city, and I recommend living experiences in a variety of locations.  I highly recommend a visit so you can see the campus, town and surrounding countryside for yourself instead of relying upon the wave of stereotyped responses that this post will most likely generate.  If you have any questions, please feel free to PM me. 
I must admit that I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God . . . and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history.  I don't believe such doubts make me a bad Christian.  I believe they make me human . . .

shaz

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Re: Washington & Lee and Racism.
« Reply #3 on: March 12, 2006, 04:43:25 PM »
dude don't let it scare you.  don't be naive either.  i don't care what someone tells you about the area.  it's in the south.  i have never been to lex, but i have been to norfolk, richmond and alexandria.  the areas are pretty nice actually.  i only experienced one obviously racial incedent and that was in pentagon city.  you should be ok.  like any college town, don't make waves with the townies.  you'll be fine at w&l.  i have heard that crime is nearly non-existant and the library is open 24/7.  take the money.
losin' sleep, gainin' knowledge.

mjb

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Re: Washington & Lee and Racism.
« Reply #4 on: March 12, 2006, 09:12:03 PM »
I didnt know it was named after general lee! That is somewhat frightening. A few miles from a university founded by falwell? Yikes! I think I will steer clear of this area.

Alamo

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Re: Washington & Lee and Racism.
« Reply #5 on: March 12, 2006, 09:27:22 PM »
I didnt know it was named after general lee! That is somewhat frightening. A few miles from a university founded by falwell? Yikes! I think I will steer clear of this area.

If this is how you're going to judge a university, based on a view tangential associations that have nothing to do with the school, I don't think you should go there either.  This implies a bias eerily similar to those who would judge you based on your skin color.  I know this is a loaded statement, and I'm not pretending like I know how it is to be a minority, but if you expect other people to get beyond their preconceived notions about you, it won't happen unless you can transcend your own.

My wife (fiance at the time) is in a PhD program at UChicago - she wanted me to move to Hyde Park.  Having grown up in rural Virginia, I could've said things like "Louis Farrakhan lives in Hyde Park - I might be a target because I'm white!"  Based on the south side's rep, I could've said no, it's too strange, it's too foreign, I wouldn't be accepted and would be ridiculed as a slack-jawed yokel, beaten and mugged, if not murdered for my shoes.  But I didn't let the image stop me, although I was admittedly nervous about moving to such a big city, and it's been a great experience; I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

As a white male from rural VA, it really pisses me off when people associate me with Falwell just because we share a geographic area.  He doesn't speak for me, nor for the majority of people in Lexington (which, BTW, is over an hour away from Lynchburg).  Please, if you're going to insinuate that people in the area are bigots, visit the school and judge it based on actual experience - I think you'd be somewhat surprised, and that some of your preconceptions may be based more on the Beverly Hillbillies than on reality.
I must admit that I may have been infected with society's prejudices and predilections and attributed them to God . . . and that in years hence I may be seen as someone who was on the wrong side of history.  I don't believe such doubts make me a bad Christian.  I believe they make me human . . .

Lenny

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Re: Washington & Lee and Racism.
« Reply #6 on: March 12, 2006, 09:34:08 PM »
Unbelievable.  These knee-jerk prejudgments are just the type of stereotypes and baseless, invidious reactions that you express concern about in your original post.  I mean, don't do us any favors by gracing W&L with your consideration, but the fact remains that you should practice what you preach.  Yes, W&L was renamed in 1871 to include General Lee, though before that it was "Washington College" in honor of George Washington.  Do you have any ludicrous concerns about President Washington and his connection to W&L?  

mjb

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Re: Washington & Lee and Racism.
« Reply #7 on: March 12, 2006, 09:51:39 PM »
Unbelievable.  These knee-jerk prejudgments are just the type of stereotypes and baseless, invidious reactions that you express concern about in your original post.  I mean, don't do us any favors by gracing W&L with your consideration, but the fact remains that you should practice what you preach.  Yes, W&L was renamed in 1871 to include General Lee, though before that it was "Washington College" in honor of George Washington.  Do you have any ludicrous concerns about President Washington and his connection to W&L?   

I'm sorry if I feel a little aprehensive about bringing my family to that area. Yes I have strong preconceptions about the local population there I'll admit. The fact that its also named after a figure that somewhat represents the racist southern movement, in my eyes, is also a little frightening. No disrespect and if I come off as a jerk I apologize. Everything I've read about the university itself is great and that is why I was very interested! I don't expect anyone with the university to harbor hatred but I am unsure about the area.

JamesD

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Re: Washington & Lee and Racism.
« Reply #8 on: March 12, 2006, 10:53:17 PM »
I understand the OP's dilema about bringing his children there.  They would be black children growing up in an overwhelmingly white community.  I don't believe that black children should go to schools with ONLY other black students... but I do believe that diversity is a good thing.  His kids might be ostracized; they might do far better in a more heterogeneous area.

If he didn't have children to consider, it would possibly be another story altogether.

I'm a minority, and Washington & Lee seems just fine.  The people seem nice.  My big question is whether or not the campus is primarily segregated (I recognize that self-segregation would be the driving force behind this, so please don't female dog at me and act like I'm clueless about this fact-- any time I talk about campuses being segregated, people automatically assume that I think the segregation is imposed on black students by some outside force). 


mjb

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Re: Washington & Lee and Racism.
« Reply #9 on: March 12, 2006, 11:03:37 PM »
I understand the OP's dilema about bringing his children there.  They would be black children growing up in an overwhelmingly white community.  I don't believe that black children should go to schools with ONLY other black students... but I do believe that diversity is a good thing.  His kids might be ostracized; they might do far better in a more heterogeneous area.

If he didn't have children to consider, it would possibly be another story altogether.

I'm a minority, and Washington & Lee seems just fine.  The people seem nice.  My big question is whether or not the campus is primarily segregated (I recognize that self-segregation would be the driving force behind this, so please don't female dog at me and act like I'm clueless about this fact-- any time I talk about campuses being segregated, people automatically assume that I think the segregation is imposed on black students by some outside force). 



Mexican :)