Free Speech

If Employers Believe That Hearing the Mandarin "Neige" (Meaning "That") "Affect[s]" Black Students' "Mental Health,"

would they be likely to hire blacks for jobs in China, or anywhere where they might have to hear Mandarin?

|The Volokh Conspiracy |

I wrote on Thursday about USC Business School professor Greg Patton (who, among other things, is a specialist on business in China) being taken out of his business communication course, and being replaced by a different professor. Prof. Patton's offense: In a discussion of "filler words," such as "um" and "er," he gave the Mandarin "neige" (literally, "that") as a foreign example—and he pronounced the word, as do many other Mandarin speakers, similarly to "nigger." The word is apparently indeed used, routinely, as a filler word in Mandarin.

The USC business school dean's actions, and his abject apology for Prof. Patton's actions, has been met (rightly, I think) with a good deal of criticism. I blogged about one example, a letter from nearly 100 USC graduates who say the school's actions "cast[] insult toward the Chinese language." But here I want to suggest that the "Black MBA Candidates c/o 2022" letter demanding the action, and in particular this passage, actually risks harming the employment prospects of black students:

Our mental health has been affected. It is an uneasy feeling allowing him to have the power over our grades. 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. His careless comment has impacted our ability to focus adequately on our studies.

Let's consider a rational employer who is wondering whether to hire a black applicant to work in China, or anywhere else where the applicant would have to work around Mandarin speakers (whether those speakers form most of the environment or only a modest portion). And let's assume the employer actually believes the factual claims in the letter.

The employer, I take it, will wonder: How will the applicant be able to effectively function around Mandarin speakers, who say the same thing the professor said, except much more often? (To be sure, the word is apparently pronounced differently depending on the speaker's regional accent, but it often will be pronounced this way.)

The applicant's mental health, the employer has heard, will be affected. The applicant will be emotionally exhausted. The applicant will be unable to focus adequately on his job. The applicant will feel that the Mandarin speakers are disregarding cultural diversity and his sensitivities (presumably in the process having little interest in their cultural diversity).

Will the applicant be able to work effectively with the Mandarin speakers? Smile and sell products or negotiate deals with them? Be enthusiastic about a job that, by hypothesis, is affecting his mental health, that is emotionally exhausting him, and on which he is unable to focus?

Now say even that the employer reads the letter as limited to relatively high-status, powerful people like a professor saying the word, and thinks that ordinary coworkers or clients' saying it will have zero effect on the applicant's mental health and emotional state. (Not clear why there would be such a sharp difference based on the speaker's power, rather than perhaps a gradient, where ordinary speakers' saying the word would just have a slighter effect on mental health and cause a slighter degree of emotional exhaustion and a lesser loss of focus; but say this is so.) Still, the applicant might have to hear the word when his superiors say it while talking Mandarin; or when a powerful customer of the business says it; or when it's said by teachers speaking Mandarin in a training session within the company.

And the employer may well conclude that it's perilous to try to sort black applicants who have this reaction from those who don't. Imagine the employer decides to try to do such sorting, by asking each interviewee this:

Many of our employees, business partners, and clients are Mandarin speakers, and we have read that some people find it affects their mental health, emotional composure, and ability to focus when they hear Mandarin speakers say a particular word that sounds somewhat like a racial slur. [In the atmosphere we see at USC, of course the employer will have to speak in this indirect way.] Are you a person who would be affected that way? Or would you be able to ignore such a word, knowing that the similarity is just an accident of the sort that happens with two such wildly unrelated languages?

Do you think the employer will feel safe asking this, and confident in the answer? Or will the employer be afraid that even asking such a question would lead to massive public outrage, or perhaps a discrimination claim by someone who says that, yes, his mental health would be affected by hearing the word?

So if the employer believes the USC students' letter, it seems to me the employer has three options:

  1. Demand that all the Mandarin speakers in the employer's workforce, and among the employer's clients, contractors, and others, change their way of saying utterly commonplace things in their native language. That's 900 million native speakers—all of them who deal with the employer will have to change the speaking habits of a lifetime, in the name of "cultural diversity and sensitivities."
  2. Not make any such demand, and hire the black applicant, expecting that the applicant will be often suffering damage to his mental health, emotional exhaustion, and loss of focus (and perhaps that the applicant will make similar complaints, to the government, to the public, or to others, when that happens).
  3. Quietly find some way to avoid hiring black applicants, who (he has been assured) suffer from this sort of mental and emotional condition that makes it hard for them to effectively work around the employer's employees and customers.

Option 3, it seems to me, is the more likely. That's especially so since it's much harder for plaintiffs to prove discriminatory failure to hire (given that the great bulk of all applicants of all races aren't hired) than to prove discriminatory firing or discriminatory treatment on the job; using this option in the U.S. would be illegal, but we're talking here about is likely to practically happen, not what would happen in a hypothetical world where everyone followed the law. And beyond that, some applicants will be applying for jobs with foreign companies in foreign countries, where U.S. antidiscrimination law doesn't apply.

Now all that is if the employer believes the claims of effect on mental health, of emotional exhaustion, and of loss of ability to focus. I must say that I'm quite skeptical of such claims, which seem to me like political assertions made in a political document ("political" in the sense of politics within the educational institution) and not demonstrable claims about mental health.

If anyone has any real studies that show that hearing a foreign word (whether from a professor or anyone else) that is a homonym for a racial slur actually affects mental health or causes emotional exhaustion, I'd love to see them; but I know of no such studies. My sense is that, just as black criminal lawyers and employment lawyers deal professionally and calmly with having to routinely see and hear (and sometimes write and say) the actual word "nigger" in witness interviews, briefs, oral arguments, and more, so black MBAs who have to routinely hear Mandarin speakers say "neige" aren't really mentally or emotionally damaged by the process.

But presumably the letter was written to be believed. And is it really a good idea for organizations of black students to make assertions that, if believed, will make black graduates less appealing to many rational employers?

NEXT: No Punitive Damages in Sex Abuse Lawsuits Against Jeffrey Epstein Estate, Because of Epstein's "Reported Suicide"

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  1. Nothing that comes out of these corrupt, racist institutions can be trusted.

    1. Would you consider former Judge Kozinski’s chambers to have been a corrupt institution, and that nothing that came out of that chambers could be trusted?

      That was one circumstance in which Prof. Volokh conspicuously, and curiously, didn’t have much to say (at least, not publicly).

      Partisanship is a powerful purpose for some people.

      1. Well, we certainly know that nothing coming out of Reinhardt’s chambers was to be trusted.

        1. 12,
          I suspect that Rev is referring to something quite different. A situation (or series of situations) about which you might be unfamiliar.
          [disclaimer: I am very fond of Kozinski on my extremely-limited personal basis.]

          1. Yes, Rev refers to that quite often. But never to the similar situation involving Reinhardt.

            1. I was not aware of the Reinhardt allegation until a minute ago. If I had directly observed anything involving Judge Reinhardt (or Judge Kozinski) in this context, I would expect to state it publicly.

              1. If Judge Reinhardt engaged in a substantial fraction of the conduct described by a former clerk it is unfortunate he was not held to account.

                1. Democrat Privilege

      2. Kozinski was forced to resign from the federal bench in disgrace. When the same thing happens to the Dean of the USC Business School, then I agree that Prof. Volokh need not comment anymore.

        1. Your embrace of double standards is noted and disdained.

            1. That yawn will come in handy, Bored Lawyer, as you continue to swallow the liberal-libertarian progress that better Americans have been shoving down your throat throughout your life.

              Open wider, BoredLawyer. This will go easier for you that way. Why not make this easier, clingers?

              1. “Why not make this easier, clingers?”

                Let’s make it easier to punish people for speaking foreign languages? Another link to the When Wokes and Racists Actually Agree on Everything video seems a propos. Love you guys’ work in women’s sports, by the way.

          1. Two clerks resigned and others were harassed, in part because some Kozinski clerks were complicit in the abusive professioal environment –participating, concealing, or both. Some of those complicit clerks have been silent to this day, at least so far as we know.

            No one should force anyone to talk about this. Cowards have rights, too.

            1. Paging Dahlia Lithwick.

              1. Dahlia Lithwick isn’t welcome here. This is a white, male, movement conservative blog.

      3. Arthur, Imagine someone you’re close to does something bad. Something hurtful and publicly scandalous. Do you think it’s your responsibility to join the public excoriation and condemn your friend/loved one? I don’t. I wouldn’t ask it of you. Even if I were one of the victims, I hope I’d be OK with you absenting yourself from that court of public opinion.

        1. Does the pass on accountability extend to any participation in the abusive professional environment?

          Concealing it (which is facilitating it) while watching others’ careers be damaged?

          Failure to support the victims when the wrongdoing was being investigated?

          Participating in public efforts to defend the creepy wrongdoer?

          1. Kirkland, what’s not said about Harvey Weinstein is that the women who told him to go fuck himself — and I know quite a few who would have — are out of the profession. It’s the women who played along and tolerated Weinstein, perhaps even encouraging him on occasion, who are rich & famous today. And we’re supposed to cal them victims?

            Bullshite.

            No, the victims are the women who had enough personal integrity not to prostitute themselves to advance their careers.

            Kinda like reporters sleeping with sources to get a story, and yes it happens…

            1. What the fuck is wrong with you?

              1. Would you or would you not respect a woman who walked away from a clerkship because she refused to tolerate the lechery?

                And what no one wants to talk about is that the hostile environment goes both ways, women in positions of authority can treat men equally as badly, not the same way, but excluding from the “girls club.”

                1. You didn’t answer my question, but you’re certainly providing further support for the premise.

                  1. Try answering my question.

                    1. Noscitur a sociis, I *am* an educator and hence qualified to state this.

                      There are two problems with the cute female student sleeping with the professor. The first is that such relationships almost inevitably go bad with the student getting hurt, often quite badly. I say this from personal experience — I’ve personally talked a female student out of suicide at 2AM because of something like this — have you???. I was the one she trusted enough to call, which says something, and perhaps you can tone down a bit of the visceral.

                      SECOND, the classroom environment is competitive and the student sleeping with the professor has an inherent advantage over all the other students — both female *and* male. It’s not fair to the other female students who don’t wish to sleep with the professor, and it’s not fair to the male students who can’t.

                      Let me explain this via a somewhat different situation — an openly anti-male professor I once had. She had an office *hour* — one hour a week for male students who had questions or needed assistance. But the female students were free to go visit her in the women-only building* where she was several hours each and every day. Do you see how that advantaged the female students over the male students?

                      Now imagine that it was just one female student who was able to do that…

                      *A different building on campus where men were not permitted to tread. At a public university — and my favorite story is when someone’s husband arrived to pick her up as her car was in the shop that day, this before cell phones. They would permit his 4-year-old daughter into the building, but not him — I’m not making this up…

          2. No, I don’t think it’s OK to conceal, much less participate in wrongdoing. What’s evidence is there that it happened?

            Meanwhile, you didn’t answer my question based on the facts I’m currently aware of.

            1. Needless to say, I want no part of Dr. Ed’s reprehensible victim blaming.

              1. What I find amazing is that the same “victims” wouldn’t think of leaving their keys in their cars, even though auto theft is illegal and people shouldn’t steal cars.

                And not everyone, male or female, is an honorable person.

        2. Leo — what’s not said with much of this in academia — and I suspect here too — is that people were DRUNK. Much of it happened at receptions where alcohol flowed freely.

          It doesn’t justify it, no more than OUI, but to what extent do we blame the ETOH? Or ban it, much like corporate America has largely banned the Christmas party.

          And the flip side of this is expecting modesty of dress and actions from the young ladies? A woman wearing a form-fitting “little black dress” and sitting on men’s laps for photographs is sending LOTS of messages, and ought to be bright enough to realize it.

          1. “A woman wearing a form-fitting “little black dress” and sitting on men’s laps for photographs is sending LOTS of messages, and ought to be bright enough to realize it.”

            Let’s leave Ivanka out of this!

      4. Me thinks this Rev. is trying to be more Catholic than the Pope! Reducing black people to psychologically fragile victims of society is the highest form of racism. Yes, I am black, deal with it.

    2. What about conversing with a Spanish speaker? The color black is either Negra or Negro depending on the usage.

      1. I wonder how many words in how many languages you could find which could offend some students.

      2. There is an oil-rich, Spanish-speaking African country called la Republica de Guinea Equatorial (Equatorial Guinea). American and European companies are all over that country exploiting oil and natural gas. These psychologically fragile black American victims of society will be shocked that the words “negro and negra” are used there on a daily basis! I suppose African American MBAs need not apply to work with multinational companies doing business in Africa.

  2. The claim of negative impact on mental health is either bogus, a vindictive lie, or clinical evidence of serious mental imbalance–all of which would give a potential employers pause in making a hire.

    1. My take is the opposite — *if* they have a mental health issue, they ought to be hospitalized. Involuntary Commitment.

      And they won’t have to be incarcerated in bedlam very long before they realize that they can live with this, that it doesn’t cause them mental illnesses.

      1. My take is the opposite — *if* they have a mental health issue, they ought to be hospitalized. Involuntary Commitment.

        YANAL.

        1. YANAAA.

          May I ask you to read 123 MGL 12(a)? I’m sure that a lawyer can find it (and similar laws in other states) and what you will find is that lawyers have absolutely NOTHING to do with this. Yes the victim is given the fig leaf of subsequent representation, but if you do your research, you will find that’s largely irrelevant. For example, read _McCabe v. City of Lynn, 875 F.Supp. 53, 63 (D.Mass.1995)_ — and particularly the district decision which discusses the facts.

          One of us was an academic administrator who got out when he saw this crap happening around him — and the other is a clueless lawyer.

          While I was being partially facetious in my comment, I have personally seen the approach I described and various variants thereof. And not just at UMass. Amherst College committed a rape victim — that made the NY Times if I remember correctly, and then there is the infamous Mt Holyoke College OCR decision — https://secureservercdn.net/198.71.233.254/d25.2ac.myftpupload.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/7.18.08-Mount-Holyoke-OCR-Letter.pdf

          And you don’t see the letters “J.D.” after his signature, do you?

          Lawyers somehow seem to think that they are the subject matter specialists about everything and at the center of everything — and they aren’t. Particularly not this — which is explicitly designed to prevent lawyer involvement, the 4th, 5th, and arguably 8th Amendments notwithstanding.

          (Like I said, read the district decision in the _Lifeline_ case.

          You want to litigate that — you’ll have my full support and encouragement. But please don’t tell me that I don’t know what I am talking about when I had “boots on the ground” watching it — and you weren’t.

          1. I forgot that she gave her name — Angie Epifano — and detailed this in the student newspaper. https://amherststudent.amherst.edu/article/2012/10/17/account-sexual-assault-amherst-college.html

            I think it shows the extent to which academia has adopted the Soviet concept of “Sluggishly Progressing Schizophrenia” and why what what I facetiously suggested was only partially facetious.

            1. Wow, that’s fucked up.

          2. Strike “clueless” and substitute “unaware.”

            I suggest all attorneys who care about individual rights to take an objective look at what is being done in the name of “behavioral health” in academia today — perhaps even on your own campus. If you dig beyond the facade and the pablum, I doubt you will like what you see.

            I don’t make references to the former Soviet Union lightly.

  3. Probably best to avoid all USC graduates just to be safe.

    1. Chinese businessmen start off in an advantageous position given the strong government commitment to predatory technology transfer. Anyone who is so emotionally weak as these student would hardly be an effective representative of his/her employer. As you suggest, it would been wise to avoid all of them until USC champions emotional toughness in its MBA graduates.

      1. Phew! At second read, you didn’t say “NBA graduates”.

        1. Actually NBA players would do well in China

          1. Exactly, they do whatever their Chicom Masters tell them too while spitting on the American Flag.

      2. The free market is a better engine of innovative tech transfer than any government picking winners and losers.

        1. Unless it’s healthcare or labor, am I right?

          1. ? How is tech transfer relevant to either of those areas.

            1. What, there is no technology in your health care? I understand a lot more about you now — you are quite happy to get rid of all technological advances in health care in order to form a more socialist union.

              1. Not even that, some of the imaging stuff could be dual purpose, i.e. also useful to the military.

        2. Maybe in the long run, but when you have government intelligence agencies providing you technology it took your competitors decades to implement then it does provide a lot of short term advantage.

  4. USC’s position doesn’t pass any laugh test I can imagine. Is it possible that there is more to the story than is being made public?

    1. That was my first reaction as well. I read the stories, and looked at the video, and thought to myself, “Man, there *must* be more to this than we’re being told.”

      But maybe not. I mean, if you watch the video embedded in one of the other posts, it looks like the professor is *clearly* making an innocuous point. Even when I bend over backwards to see things from the aggrieved students’ viewpoint, it looks innocent and harmless to me. And the subsequent letter just seems so self-destructive . . . for the reason(s) already articulated by EV here.

      It’s all very puzzling to me.

      1. The students are making ridiculous arguments in order to demonstrate their power. This will work against university bureaucrats and against cowardly executives in major corporations. It won’t work so well in most of the world. These students will learn bad lessons about how to abuse power.

  5. Here’s an idea which might make this whole discussion much more persuasive (I find it persuasive, but this might make it more so): get some more input on the question of the Chinese word which sounds like the n-word, from some Afr-Am lawyers and/or law students. (My apologies if VC already has one or some Afr-Am blogger(s); I’ve been a reader for years and am not aware of any.)

    1. There was this funny Russell Peters video from a day or two ago.

      1. Thanks for that, I wasn’t familiar with him, and some of his stuff is great. I never realized my parents were Indian until I watched the one on ‘White people need to beat their kids’.

    2. I’d certainly be glad for such input; for examples I’ve seen online, see https://twitter.com/vicmarsh/status/1301928063865729024 and the many responses (though of course I don’t know for sure whether the responders are African-American, or are black more generally), as well as https://twitter.com/BLKChinaCaucus/status/1301931390917840898 . I can imagine how my coauthor Randy Kennedy would react, but my guess is that the views of people who have thought about race and Chinese language/culture/life specifically (a complicated topic, I’m told) would be more helpful.

    3. “(My apologies if VC already has one or some Afr-Am blogger(s); I’ve been a reader for years and am not aware of any.)”

      Are you claiming that this blog is remarkably white? Next you’ll claim it is strikingly male, too.

      1. Ah Artie. Always providing the answer to a question no one asked.

        1. That guy asked. I acknowledge that clingers prefer to avoid the subject these days.

    4. Here is one: There is an oil-rich, Spanish-speaking African country called la Republica de Guinea Equatorial (Equatorial Guinea). American and European companies are all over that country exploiting oil and natural gas. These psychologically fragile black American victims of society will be shocked that the words “negro and negra” are used there on a daily basis! I suppose African American MBAs need not apply to work with multinational companies doing business in Africa.

      The paternalistic, psychological victimhood to which liberals and the likes of the USC Dean of Business consign African Americans is the highest form of racism.

      1. Soft bigotry of low expectations?

  6. Coming next from USC: cancel everything with Arnold Schwartznegger.

    1. Wow. A twofer.

    2. Not to mention Winnie the Pooh, who openly, blatantly, and with utter disregard for the mental well being of black lives, willingly associates with an animal who’s name resembles a vile racial slur.

    3. Ha ha ha ha! The average American professor or dean has no clue what that name means!

  7. Two thoughts. Homonym resembles homosexual. By the same ignorant (read stupid) argument as used against niggardly, this key grammatical term must be banned. And, Cantonese speakers can still to some degree freely speak, although their mockery of the entitled overfed, soft-handed American & European students is fair.

    1. I writes itself:

      Professor: Different languages use different filler words. For example, the Chinese say “neige, neige, neige”.

      Student: What’d you call me!?!

      Professor: No! It’s a homophone!

      Student: Are you saying I’m gay!?!

      Professor: Class, I’d like to announce that you’ll be having a new Professor next week.

      1. Interviewer: Why were you fired from your last job?

        Patton: I inadvertently used a homophonic slur.

  8. You know what affects my emotional health? Posts like the post about Levi Woodbury, which confuse the year 1851 with the year 1854.

    It’s literally* driving me insane.

    *The term “literally” is not to be taken literally.

  9. Many years ago, I took a required course called “intercultural communication” because it was mandatory. The class turned out to be “how to avoid offending anyone, anywhere”
    Wasn’t as much fun as the technical writing class where the final project was an instruction manual for a mousetrap.

    1. I had not thought about my technical writing class, over 30 years ago, until I saw you mention it. The main thrust of the course was to be very descriptive and precise. Today that would be “problematic” or some other manufactured stupidity. The other point was when writing an instruction manual, procedural order was paramount. In a bomb disarming manual you never write: “Cut the red wire, but only after you have cut the blue one.” The professor made the class roar, but I have never forgotten the point.

  10. Social justice is a religion/cult. Its not that hearing a word that sounds like nigger will actually harm a normal human its just a sacred ritual with no practical purpose that it cannot be said. Sort of like having quotas for women firefighters. There is no particular need for women firefighters, the self esteem of women got along fine for thousands of years without gender equal firefighting crews, and the practice has no practical upside and actually overall harms the safety of the community but the cultists feel a ritualistic need to gender equalize ‘glamourous’ male dominated fields.

    Do not try to understand it as a rational philosophy. Understand it as the most dangerous and powerful cult of our time which holds concepts like patriarchy, critical race theory, and numerical equalism (except NBA etc) at all costs as articles of faith rather than normal ideas and threatens society by acting out and forcing its superstitions on others.

    1. I had not used the N word in many years considering it to be impolite and rude. Like when Atticus tells Scout, “that’s common”, i.e beneath you. Funny, these days if you take the high road of Atticus Finch and refuse to say it, you are probably a racist and your silence is violence. If you say it, you are a racist and your speech provokes violence. The very fine tuned Marxist/Ayers methodology of these groups can be overwhelming because they are schooled in the dialectic approach to argument. I believe it came from the works of Schopenhauer and is commonly referred to as gas-lighting or a straw man argument, depending on the case, these days. It is almost impossible to oppose in civil discourse. Sadly, you have to destroy the person opposing you by character assassination. Lamentably that is what we have been reduced to.

  11. I remember that neige was one of Victor Borge’s favorite words. He liked saying neige neige. The Youtube video is here. I don’t know which minute in the video to point you to, but I guarantee the whole 45 minutes of the video are entertaining.

    Should Victor Borge consider himself fortunate to have died before this madness started.

    As far as the USC students are concerned, I wager that they are just trolling at this point. The just say the magic word “offensive” and watch the administration dance. Maybe neige neige would make them dance faster.

  12. If I were a potential employer, I would question the judgment of the MBA students who signed such a letter and would avoid them on that fact alone.

  13. There’s also a more realistic hypo: If employers believe that black candidates are likely to falsely claim that hearing “Neige” affects their mental health and raise a stink in a cry for attention, are they likely to quietly find reasons not to hire black students?

    Answer: Yes.

  14. I imagine the vision of your USC Business Admin MBA diving across the conference table at a Chinese manufacturer’s rep because he was trying to get his thoughts together and making null sounds would be a hurdle to that MBA grad getting hired.

  15. These black MBA students would also have serious problems in Spanish speaking countries. The Spanish equivalent of “LOL” is “KKK…”

  16. I have to confess to not understanding the offense of a near-sounding offensive but actually innocent word spoken by non-Blacks and the actual N-word used liberally by Blacks with each other and in music by Black and some white rap and hip-hop artists.

    (Did I capitalize correctly?)

    1. Edit : I have to confess to not understanding the offense of a near-sounding offensive but actually innocent word spoken by non-Blacks and the *everyday use of* the actual N-word…

    2. (Did I capitalize correctly?)

      No.

      1. How about this?

        WE ARE NOT BIGOTS AS REFLECTED BY OUR USE OF UPPER AND LOWER CASE SPELLING OF RACE COLORS, if there is such a thing as race colors. Only social controllers of the narrative would appropriate language in such a way and insist upon correctly inscribedm though ever-changing labels.

        My youngster in grade school in the 90s described her friends as fun or smart, beige or brown. She was artistic and didn’t know black and white.

  17. Were the professor Black and speaking and explaining Mandarin, would there be the same objection and posited harm to mental health?

    Likely not. Seems we’re in the era of gotcha’s, whether valid or no.

  18. I wonder how the authors of the letter got authorization to speak for (all) “Black MBA Candidates c/o 2022”. Did they actually get the signature of every member of that group?

  19. Few, if any, of the “every day real” concerns and all of the craven political and rhetorical manipulations wrt to race constitute a terrible race to the bottom, but no one cares as long as they get there first.

    Shame on the faux offended in this university. There are actual true issues of racism and equality to address with one’s pedigreed degree. Going for the cheap shots looks most unserious about the bigger picture for you and all of us.

  20. Another irrefutable argument for ending all student loans.

    1. The loans are OK as long as the government does not back them. Let schools and banks loan all they want … but let bankruptcy discharge them like normal debts. Make schools and banks fully accountable for choosing poorly.

  21. We should force Niger to change its name and force Spanish speakers to change the name of the color black.

  22. The silver lining is that prospective employers now know that USC undergraduates are so coddled and insulated from racist American society that this is the worst insult of their USC careers. I’d steer well clear of ALL USC grads from now on.

  23. Why is the use of “neige” so ardently defended while the use of “c@p succ@r” is censored?

    1. It’s a conspiracy – it says so right in the title of this very blog!

    2. I can’t imagine what Prof V. must have done to Kirkland’s butt, that it’s still sore after all these years.

      1. You are mistaken. I welcome the partisan censorship repeatedly enforced by this blog. It is important, useful, and illuminating. I always prefer that my political opponents be demonstrably unprincipled hypocrites.

    3. As a Chinese language teacher and linguist I have to defend it. The word neige means roughly ‘that’ and is used in spoken Chinese almost as often as the English word ‘the’. Please try to get a better grasp on subjects before offering comments.

  24. FWIW, the tendency to add an R sound at the end of various grammatical terms such as “neige” (that), “zheige” (this), “na” (there), “zha ” (here) is typical of a prestigious Beijing dialect, more than of Mandarin in general. Draw your own conclusions.

  25. Ouch well every rap group that uses that word just disqualified themselves and their listeners.

    Oh are they applying for college?

  26. Boy, they really do want to be treated like children.

  27. If a Mandarin word “neige” cause them mental anguish, they are already under therapy or beyond help.

  28. A key purpose of education is to enable one to understand and get along with a wide variety of people.

    As I understand it, the basic thrust of the letter is that the students are so traumatized that they are incapable of functioning in an educational environment involving other cultures.

    A letter written by the Klu Klux Klan would not have emphasized the trauma angle. But is there really a difference? What difference, in the end, does it make to say that black people lack the mental competence to be in an educational environment involving other cultures because of their inherent natures, and to say that they lack that competence because of their experiences?

    If I were the Ku Klux Klan I would hire these psople as spokespeople.

    Talk about self-hating people.

  29. To me, it sounded like he was saying “Negah, negah, negah.” So what is the problem? Sigh.

    1. Contrived grievances are the new arms race. Gotta keep your “team” ahead.

  30. The psychologically fragile black MBA victims of society who wallow in liberal victimhood are pandering to the highest form of racism. Here is my advice for them: Since you have ruled yourselves out of working in China or with Chinese companies and people, please do not go to Africa or do business in West Africa. There is a river there called the Niger, a country called Niger (pronounced Neeger or Neegé) and Nigeria (pronounced Neegeria by Francophones and some ethnic groups). Someone might just mispronounce these names and offend you. In Africa, no one will be sympathetic to the victimhood to which you have been consigned by the racialist paternalism of the likes of the dean of the USC School of Business.

  31. I remember years ago when learning some Chinese that especially in the northern parts of China there is a tendency to end certain words with a bit of an ‘r’ that isn’t necessarily proper pronunciation. In a way, a bit of a ‘northern’ accent. That might explain some of why this word has a tendency to be pronounced in such a manner despite it not necessarily being written with an ‘r’ on the end.

    1. Remember that Peking became Beijing a few decades ago — our Roman phonetic alphabet doesn’t do well with a character-based language.

  32. Neige in French means snow. Be careful buttercups if you ever visit me in Montreal in winter! You may be hearing neige a whole lot.

  33. Perhaps Mandarin speakers’ systematic willingness to repeatedly use language that they know or should know will inflict harm on Black Americans is yet another good reason or excuse why we should dial back our commercial intercourse with the companies and other instrumentalities of the mainland Chinese regime.

  34. Have we as a society gotten that thin skinned that someone saying that in Chinese must be removed ?

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