A communications professor at the University of Southern California has been reassigned after using a common Chinese filler word during a lecture, which black students complained sounded like a racial slur in English.
During a recent online lecture at the USC Marshall School of Business, Professor Greg Patton was explaining that Mandarin Chinese uses “that” the same way Americans use “like” or “um,” as filler.
The word in Mandarin is “nega,” and Patton’s lecture prompted someone to complain that it sounded too much like an English derogatory term for people of African descent.
Patton “offended all of the black members of our class,” according to an August 21 email sent to the administration by a group of students identifying themselves as “Black MBA Candidates” class of 2022, and obtained by National Review.
The email says Patton used the word “approximately five times” during the lesson, in each of his three communication classes. The black students were “appalled” by it. Claiming the actual pronunciation of the word is “much different” from Patton’s, the students accused the professor of “negligence and disregard” and said the lecture affected their mental health.
We would rather not take his course than to endure the emotional exhaustion of carrying on with an instructor that disregards cultural diversity and sensitivities and by extension creates an unwelcome environment for us black students.
“In light of the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and the recent and continued collective protests and social awakening across the nation, we cannot let this stand,” the email concluded.
The Los Angeles-based school confirmed to Campus Reform on Tuesday that a faculty member “used a Chinese word that sounds similar to a racial slur in English.”
“We acknowledge the historical, cultural and harmful impact of racist language,” USC Marshall said in a statement, noting that Patton “agreed to take a short term pause” while the matter is under review. Another instructor has taken over the class for the time being…..[ ]