List From Black Guide Sparks Outcry

Following heated response from community, BSA to remove page

The Black Students Association (BSA) decided yesterday to remove a page from The Black Guide to Life at Harvard that members of the black community decried as offensive to women and a vehicle for personal retribution by its author.

The guide’s executive editor, Marques J. Redd ’04, wrote the controversial piece, “Top 10 Signs Harvard Has Driven a Black Woman Crazy.”

It includes as signs, “When she thinks falsely accusing people of rape is funny” and “When she can’t say ‘I love you’ without a restraining order.”

The e-mail lists of the Black Men’s Forum (BMF) and the Association of Black Harvard Women (ABHW) erupted over the past two days with more than 100 posts, most of which criticized Redd for disrespecting black women and victims of sexual assault.

But Redd said in an e-mail to the ABHW list that his piece was not directed at black women in general, but at a Harvard ex-girlfriend whom he says publicly and falsely accused him of rape.

“Because of the personal pain I suffered due to false public accusations, I felt justified in printing this from my personal experience,” Redd wrote in an e-mail to The Crimson.

However, Redd apologized in an e-mail to the BSA list for offending anyone.

“It was never my intention to belittle black women or sexual assault,” he said.

The BSA, which sponsored the guide—the first comprehensive publication about the black experience at Harvard—denounced Redd’s list and issued an apology to its membership.

“We believe that the list was inappropriate and offensive to members of the community,” said BSA President Charles M. Moore ’04. “We don’t want individual decisions about one page to affect the great effort put into the other 323.”

According to one editor, Redd inserted the list after the guide was edited for the final time.

At an emergency BSA board meeting early yesterday morning, members agreed to remove the list from already-published and future copies of the guide and, starting tomorrow, to allow any student to exchange the old guide for a version without the list.

BSA board members also sent an e-mail to their membership saying they planned to do a thorough review of the guide and a tougher review of all future publications.

ABHW President Allana N. Jackson ’03 said the issues raised on the BSA, BMF and ABHW e-mail lists were the impetus for the board’s decision.

“Most everyone in the community said ‘We don’t agree with this list, let’s do something about it,” Moore said.

Redd emphasized that he wrote the piece because he feels his experience is not unique in the black community at Harvard.

“I discussed it in the comedy section because I felt that this topic is one that the black community needs to deal with,” Redd wrote in his e-mail to The Crimson. “Clearly this wasn’t the main purpose of the book,” Redd said in an interview. “It was not page one; it was not the introduction.”

Students involved in the BSA and the guide’s publication said they hoped it would not be tainted by the uproar over the list.

“[Removing the list] is a resolution that was satisfactory to the community,” Jackson said. “People are still very excited about the guide.”

—Staff writer Sarah M. Seltzer can be reached at sseltzer@fas.harvard.edu.