What Rainier Spencer has Right.

He makes a reasonable and articulate case for racelessness. He also doesn’t use racelessness as a way to distance himself from other black people or the struggle for racial justice, quite the opposite, racelessness adds to his commitment. He also understands how multiracial people can be used to hurt other members of the black community. He actively identifies the mechanism that could pit multiracial black people against monoracial black people.

Spencer does the work that most people that consider themselves allies of black people should do. He understands the ways that his struggle is similar and dissimilar to that of monoracial black people. He then can see how he and other multiracial people can help and hurt the plight of the race as a whole. When building alliances, frequently the base of the union is an emotional understanding that both groups are disadvantaged. If members of the alliance could honestly dialogue to understand in what ways their struggle is similar, dissimilar, and divergent alliances among disadvantaged groups would be more stable and advantageous for both groups.

An alliance that could benefit from a more logical approach to commonality is the alliance between black and Latin people. Both groups are disadvantaged, yet the ways they are disadvantaged is very different. Blacks are disadvantaged from being economically isolated for the majority our time in this country. Latins are disadvantaged because of language barriers, unfair immigration laws, and the perception of being foreign. If a more nuanced look at our struggles were taken, we would see that many policies that help Latins hurt black people. For example, mandating grant application be available in Spanish and English. If the applications were English, only black people would have an advantage. Also, requiring job applicants be US citizens will help black people, but hurt many Latins. If both groups were more honest about what they need on a concrete level, when the racial groups decide to work together we would be more productive and fruitful.

What Rainier Spencer has Wrong

The HeyReb! mascot does allude to the Confederacy. The assertion that critics are assuming that HeyReb! is a Confederate simply because of his race and hat is absurd. The mascot cannot be taken out of context. The area Las Vegas was founded in was part of the Confederacy. The students did have a Confederate subculture for twenty years. In addition to this Las Vegas was segregated for many years and there were numerous racial incidents in the area. UNLV should remove any connection or possible connection to the Confederacy.

In the report, he says that the University has a deep connection with the nickname Rebels that could not be broken. If this is true, the school should just put changing the nickname to a vote. If people can not part with the Rebels nickname, the name will be safe. In Spencer’s report, he claims that UNLV is one of the most diverse campuses in America. If this is true, it would be difficult to believe that most students want a mascot that could in any way be linked to the Confederacy.

The Rebels report was very incomplete. It only used face to face interviews and articles from the school newspaper. First, the school newspaper has an incentive to play down conflict and animosity, due to the fact the newspaper answers to management at the school. If they print negative stories about the school, the administrators could cut funding or pull students scholarships. Second, face to face interviews could make interviewees feel uncomfortable when giving a dissenting opinion or relaying a negative story. For example, Spencer said only one member of the Black Student Organization expressed a problem with the flag. However, they were talking to a faculty member sent by the administration to determine if the school mascot needs to change. It could be they were afraid that they would be targeted or punished for expressing a negative opinion.

The information on Bill Casey, UNLV quarterback in 1968, shows bias that could play out due to a face to face interview. Bill Casey is black and was the quarterback for the UNLV Rebels when they had a Confederate flag on their helmets. Casey claims he never felt uncomfortable and his teammates said nothing racist in front of him. However, in a 2007 interview with the Las Vegas Sun, Casey reveals the UNLV allowed Casey an extra year of eligibility in spite of an ankle injury. If he had not gone to UNLV, he would be eligible for the Vietnam draft. The fact he did not say there were incidents of racism does not mean that he genuinely was not bothered or it is true no one made him feel uncomfortable. Giving this extra information opens the possibility that he looked the other way when racism surfaced because he had few alternatives. Also, if he did experience racism and did not fight back, it could be very embarrassing to retell the story. Not only will Casey have to relive the incident in his mind, but he could also feel he loses face in front of another black man that expected him to stand-up to oppression.

The study of UNLV’s mascot should have included anonymous surveys, and interviews with people accepted to UNLV but did not go. Spencer could have added both of these items to his study. Anonymous surveys will allow him to get a much more honest opinion of what people thought about the mascot. Interviewing the people that turned down UNLV could show how the mascot is affecting people’s decisions to go to UNLV. Even if people at UNLV like the mascot they should be aware of how much they are losing by keeping it. If Spencer presents the information that numerous star athletic recruits turn down the UNLV because of the name, they can determine if the cost outweighs the benefits.

Where is Rainier Spencer on the Spiral

Dr. Spencer is in the Green Meme. He attacks the concept of race opening the possibility for new groupings to form and unity with people of multiple “races.” He facilitates moving beyond race while realistically maneuvering in society. He understands race is not real, yet the effects of people’s perception of race have a real impact. As more people come to the “racelessness” view, what is considered “in group” expands from the blue meme concept.

Understanding “racelessness” is an I Space solution. Since “racelessness” is core to Spencer’s philosophy, this analysis has determined the “I Space” is where his solutions concentrate. His commitment to “IT Space” solutions such as Affirmative Action and taking racial demographic data shows his ability to embrace multiple solutions paths. His flexibility is a sign of Integral thinking.

Dr. Spencer did not express any need for revolution. Therefore he concentrates on First Order Change or change within the system in place.

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  1. Ron Kantowski catches up with Bill Casey, who only played one season at UNLV but nonetheless remains one of the program’s top quarterbacks by R. Kantowski 10-22 -2007 http://www.lasvegassun.com