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The Many Faces of Abuse of Power

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Message Dr. Lenore Daniels

So Nevin doesn't leave or flee the scene to report to the higher-ups in power that their multi-million-dollar host, Matt Lauer, isn't a gentleman! Who is she--a nobody! A loser!

It's Nevin obligated to acquiesce. Yet not forget the memory of the blood. Wait! Act as if nothing out of the ordinary has happened.

And photographs attest to the cordiality between the twosome.

What could possibly be wrong here? In New York? In Hollywood? At the workplace?

When I was ordered to come to his office, he'd already made sure I no longer had an apartment near campus. He informed the building manager that I had a cat. Subsequently, I had to transfer my belongs from my apartment to a storage space while I stayed (with my cat at the time) two weeks in a student dorm room. It's year 2000, and I'm in my late 40s.

It's late summer now, and I have been teaching a graduate-level literature course back at Loyola University, where I received my doctorate and had been teaching for a few years. That course, over, I'm home in Wisconsin just a week, prepping, I think, for the first semester teaching at a new institution but not as a new college professor. I'd been teaching since the 1980s.

I was ordered to come to his office and, once there, in a seat at his desk, across from his imposing figure, remain until I agreed NOT to sign the contract. Neither my department chair nor the dean of faculty were present. Just the two of us, both black. He's the affirmative-action director, demanding that I do as I'm told or else... You'll have to speak with a psychiatrist!

Some of the historically abused can be counted on to march in step. Do as they are told. But this is sudden. I remain captive in this office for two or three hours before I manage to leave. Just rise from that seat and leave the office. And without submitting to a psychiatrist. Because it would have to be my undoing, wouldn't it? A black man, tasked to rid the predominately white institution of this "black chic," is made to confront to destroy a newly hired black woman faculty, a "black chic," so proclaimed a highly respected white member of the English department faculty. In the front door and out the back! Just that sudden! Sorry, but sometimes they just don't have what it takes!

Eventually, I sign the contract and remained at the campus for two years.

On occasion, I would speak with this man. Listened to his story. I listened and sympathized with him, Recognizing he's been handed just enough power by those hidden behind the proverbial white curtains to intimidate and to terrorize the most vulnerable, other professors of color, I nonetheless listened with sympathy to his story, all the while realizing that something always materializes, and it's far from mysterious.

On that election night in November 2016, the map of the US turned red. One state after another. Red, red, red. Only what seemed to be accidental drops of blue ink disrupted the predominate color. It was, after all, the more familiar color for many of us black Americans. Red, red, and more red.

Americans voted for Trump. Educated, white, American women joined hands with working-class white men, and all marched over the memory of women who charged the presidential candidate of groping, if not sexually assaulting, them. They marched, trampling the memories of the disabled, mocked and ridiculed publicly by Trump. They marched over the bodies of American POWs, denounced by Trump as losers. Not true heroes.

Over the bodies of civil-rights activists' bodies found mutilated and barely unrecognizable they marched because black Americans should always remember their collective place on the hierarchy of life is best at the bottom of any river. Long before Trump reminded Americans and the world that white supremacist were "fine people," he'd condemned the young black men proven falsely charged in the brutal attack and rape of a white woman jogger in Central Park to be forever guilty.

Americans confronted the momentum toward change and accountability with the rise of the Occupy Movement and Black Lives Matter, determined once and for all to destroy the spirit of resistance.

Americans turned the country scarlet in honor of a man who supremely displays his gift for abusing power. The principles and values of colonists and slaveholders never found a grave as did the myriad millions of indigenous and Africans and their descendants.

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Activist, writer, American Modern Literature, Cultural Theory, PhD.

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