SDSU defends professor’s use of racist stereotypes in lesson amid calls for firing

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SAN DIEGO — San Diego State University is defending a professor’s inclusion of racist stereotypes in a recent lesson, but the school’s chapter of the NAACP and some students from the class are now calling for his firing.

The controversy centers around a short clip from the pre-recorded, hour-long lecture for a university film class, which was shared on social media and in group chats among students.

In the clip, the lecturer Robert Jordan starts a conversation about “assumptions” by saying: “I don’t believe in them at all so don’t, you know, please don’t assume that, you know, I am teaching that the Earth is flat, OK.”

He goes on: “So let’s say our assumptions. I might have an assumption that Black people are just not as intelligent as white people. Ooh, I can hear already people getting all riled up, right? I can believe that.

“You know, that was the way I was raised, that’s just the way that, you know, my values are. It doesn’t mean I am going to come and lynch you, it doesn’t mean that I am going to do something attacking you…”

In a statement responding to the spread of the clip and subsequent calls for Jordan’s firing, university administrators said the professor was presenting an example:

“San Diego State University has been made aware of a video posted on social media which shows a clip of a recent lecture by School of Theatre, Television and Film lecturer Robert Jordan. In the :50 video, the instructor gives an example of a racist view or ideology. Jordan insists the clip in no way represents his personal views or opinions. To be clear, SDSU does not tolerate acts of marginalization, racism and hatred based on personal background, identity or skin color. 

The :50 clip is part an hour-long lecture highlighting examples of how racism and discrimination have been portrayed in television and film, like the Roots and Holocaust mini-series of the 1970s, over time. The goal of the course is to discuss how television and film, through portraying these very real, racist events in history, are able to help viewers better understand the plight and continued struggles of people with different backgrounds or identities than their own.”

But SDSU’s chapter of the NAACP said the statements had no place in the lesson. In their own statement, the group wrote in part: “The Chapter calls on the Adele de la Torre Administration to continue its value of promoting an inclusive and welcoming learning environment by investigating the incident and removing the professor who participated in such behavior.”

In an Instagram post, the group said by including the statements in his lesson at all, Jordan had promoted racist ideologies.

In an email to some of his students, obtained by the San Diego Union-Tribune, Jordan reiterated the university’s position that he had been providing an example:

“As this video excerpt begins, you can even hear me say that some of these beliefs are correct and ‘some are total BS.’ I then describe the idea that some people might (believe) that Black people are not as smart as white people,” he wrote, according to the newspaper.

“Did I say I personally (believe) that this was my opinion or that I support such ideas? Of course not.”

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