Prof called racist for trying not to be racist

Will Gu
The Claremont Independent

  • An anonymous student at Pomona College posted "Public Service Announcement" posters around campus accusing a faculty member of racism for asking students not to use songs with the word "n***a" for an upcoming theater production.
  • In an incident of public shaming, an anonymous student working on a theatre production for Pomona College’s Theatre and Dance Department posted several posters on buildings throughout the campus accusing a faculty member—Pomona College theatre lecturer Rose Portillo—of being “racist” for asking the student to not include songs with the word “n***a” in them for an upcoming production.

    The posters—which were also posted on the theatre—were titled as a “PSA [Public Service Announcement].” The content of the poster includes Portillo’s photos and the student’s accusation:

    “On Tuesday, April 17th, I was organizing song cues for one of Pomona College’ Theatre Department’s upcoming productions. My professor Rose Portillo [emphasis in original] walked up to me in class and said: ‘Nothing with nigga in it.’ I said ‘don’t say that.’ She replied ‘I’m saying it.’” The student concludes the poster by stating “That’s racist.”

    According to a dictionary’s usage alert of “n***a,” the term is “taken to be extremely offensive when used by outsiders,” but is “also common in rap music.” The word is an “alteration” of “n****r,” a derogatory term referring to persons of African descent that is contentious enough to warrant debate on whether the word should be printed out in media. The poster does not clarify how asking a student to not include music with “n***a” in it is racist.

    Students often work on theatre productions alongside faculty for the department, with many positions in cast and crew, including production managers. The department puts on several productions each academic year, with the latest production being a rendition of William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

    The mission statement of the theatre department states that “[the department] embodies the liberal arts education…In an atmosphere of freedom, discipline and passion, students, faculty, and staff approach intellectual and artistically great creations of the human spirit, both in the classroom and in production.”

    The Independent has reached out to Portillo asking for a response to the accusations, but has not received one at the time of publication.

    This story is developing and the Independent will provide any available updates.

    This article was originally published in The Claremont Independent, a conservative student newspaper affiliated with the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. Its articles are republished here with permission.

    Follow The Claremont Independent on Twitter: @CmontInd





    Will Gu

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent

    The Claremont Independent is an independent journal of campus affairs and political thought serving the colleges of the Claremont Consortium. The magazine receives no funding from any of the colleges and is distributed free of charge on campus. All costs of production are covered by the generous support of private foundations and individuals. The Claremont Independent is dedicated to using journalism and reasoned discourse to advance its ongoing mission of Upholding Truth and Excellence at the Claremont Colleges.

    The Claremont Independent is affiliated with Campus Reform through the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. Its articles are republished on Campus Reform with permission from the paper. 

    More By The Claremont Independent

    Campus Profiles

    Latest 20 Articles