Long before the Woolworth’s lunch counter, there was a small ice cream parlor in Durham called Royal Ice Cream. Before The Greensboro Four, there was The Durham Seven. At first glance, an objective observer may ask why the 1960 protest garnered so much more attention than the one in 1957 right here in our own front yard. Newsworthiness, it would seem, is relative; subject to personal bias of reporters as well as neighbors…
Without the support of their own African American community, news of the Durham Seven didn’t spread far. One of the participants in the Royal parlor sit-in, Mary Cliburn, “remembered the ‘ugly faces’ of blacks looking madder than the white folks” (Victoria Bouloubasis, “A Battle Royal” in Indy Week, June 28 2017, p.18. Click here for a PDF) Black activists still had to conquer what Hilde Lindemann calls the “infiltrated consciousness” of their own neighbors and friends. Those neighbors and friends were the same who looked in on their liberation, by seven members of their own social group, with “ugly faces.” Three years is a long time to wait for justice, for attention to a worthy cause.
At the twilight of my time as a student at Duke, as the outgoing Duke Vets president still searching for a successor, I was still waiting for veterans to get the institutional attention and resources they deserved. I wrote that, for veterans at Duke University, an “Optimistic Face Masks a Troubling Reality.” That was five years after a student veteran had killed himself, prompting Larry Moneta, the Vice President of Student Affairs, to make numerous promises to improve the situation for veterans at Duke University.
When I found myself back at Duke as a course instructor for a class promoted by the Office of Institutional Equity, I was surprised by the lack of support I faced from fellow veterans. There was some modest support from some, mostly behind closed doors or in private messages. But I faced more open criticism from pissed of fellow veterans than I did from condescending administrators. Likewise, the strongest criticism against the Royal Seven was from their black neighbors, the same who settled for the take out window rather than the full dignity of an air conditioned seat inside a business making money from, and within, their very own community.
Those neighbors and friends were the same who looked in on their own liberation, by seven members of their own social group, with “ugly faces.”
Criticism is one side of the coin that keeps causes from moving forward. Lack of attention is another. The Durham Seven are less known because they were less reported. Activists then and now know that exposure is like oxygen; without it, movements die. This is the problem faced by veterans at Duke University.
One veteran, a freelance writer, wanted to write a story about other vets enrolled at Duke, but killed their own story out of fear for employment. After all, Duke is the third largest employer in the entire state. I’ve experienced retaliatiatory actions personally, so I know theirs is a legit concern. Another civilian reporter or two also looked into the debacle at Duke, but couldn’t find an outlet who shared their interest.
Newsworthiness, it would seem, is relative; subject to personal bias of reporters as well as neighbors…
A Blue Devil is a military mascot. As such, Blue Devils take pride in themselves just like soldiers and veterans are formed to do by their own military community. More importantly, they have one another’s back, without qualifying their loyalty based on rank, class, color, or creed. A Blue Falcon, on the other hand, is military slang for a Buddy Fucker. Buddy fucking comes in all shapes and sizes, from scowls and other proverbial “ugly faces,” to social media posts. Blue falconry, whether from infiltrated consciousness or just plain old douche baggery, is exacerbated when the “ugly faces” are at other dog faces and jar heads like yourself.
Be a Blue Devil, not a Blue Falcon. Stand up, share your story here.