Students burn author’s book outside of Eagle Village

Sarah Smith and McClain Baxley

UPDATE 4:25 THURSDAY: John Lester, Vice President for Strategic Communications and Marketing responded to The George-Anne in an email. “While it’s within the students’ First Amendment rights, book burning does not align with Georgia Southern’s values nor does it encourage the civil discourse and debate of ideas.”

STATESBORO — Students at Georgia Southern University burned a book, written by a New York Times contributor, after a Q&A session at her lecture became heated.

Jennine Capó Crucet is a Latina author, associate professor at the University of Nebraska and graduate of Cornell University. Her novel “Make Your Home Among Strangers” was used as required reading in some FYE classes. The book follows a Hispanic girl, inspired by herself, who is accepted into a prestigious university and struggles in her new predominantly white atmosphere.

Crucet spoke at the Performing Arts Center Wednesday night and after she talked about the book, followed by some personal anecdotes, she opened the audience up to questions.

“I noticed that you made a lot of generalizations about the majority of white people being privileged,” one respondent said into the microphone. “What makes you believe that it’s okay to come to a college campus, like this, when we are supposed to be promoting diversity on this campus, which is what we’re taught. I don’t understand what the purpose of this was.”

Crucet immediately responded to the student with audible reactions from the audience.

“I came here because I was invited and I talked about white privilege because it’s a real thing that you are actually benefiting from right now in even asking this question,” Crucet said. 

“What’s so heartbreaking for me and what is so difficult in this moment right now is to literally have read a talk about this exact moment happening and it’s happening again. That is why a different experience, the white experience, is centered in this talk.”

After Crucet’s response, more questions regarding the novel and Crucet’s dealing with being a minority in America were asked and Crucet responded politely.

Crucet took to Twitter to thank GS for having her and to respond to some tweets that questioned her “dissing white people.”

“I met some very amazing, brilliant students at @GeorgiaSouthern tonight,” Crucet said in the tweet. “Many of them were the ones disrupting the aggressive & ignorant comments during the Q&A. At the signing, we hugged & cried. I‘m happy to know them and also legit worried for their safety.”

Later that night, a video of students standing around a fire was posted on Twitter.

{{tncms-inline account=”elaina⭐️” html=”<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">so after our FYE book’s author came to my school to talk about it… these people decide to burn her book because “it’s bad and that race is bad to talk about”. white people need to realize that they are the problem and that their privilege is toxic. author is a woman of color. <a href="https://t.co/HiX4lGT7Ci">pic.twitter.com/HiX4lGT7Ci</a></p>— elaina⭐️ (@elainaaan) <a href="https://twitter.com/elainaaan/status/1182136933754929152?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 10, 2019</a></blockquote>” id=”https://twitter.com/elainaaan/status/1182136933754929152″ type=”twitter”}}

Carlin Blalock, a freshman music education major, walked outside of her dorm with her roommate to a crowd gathered around a fire in a grill next to the clubhouse of Eagle Village, on-campus housing. 

“It makes me feel like we are being represented really badly. It makes me feel like these people make us look as a school and even as a freshman class really ignorant and racist,” Blalock said. “Just seeing it happen, I know they didn’t read the book or they didn’t care. It’s so disrespectful to even think about doing anything to that book because that’s her life story. I wish I could have been there to do something about it.”

While Blalock could not attend because of another class, all freshmen were invited to attend the speech.

More video and images of the torn and burned books were tweeted, and Crucet tweeted again that students at GS were burning her books. 

Sarah Smith, The George-Anne News Editor, [email protected]

McClain Baxley, The George-Anne Editor-in-Chief, [email protected]