Analysis of a Racism Hoax at Oberlin College

  • Howard S. Schwartz


It is often alleged that American society is racist, even though it is acknowledged that overt expressions of racism are extremely rare. How do people know that it is racist, then? This chapter raises the possibility that this claim of racism is often based on a projection. The value of the father’s accomplishments, through which he attempted to gain mother’s love, has been denied and assertions of their value are projected onto the father and experienced as white supremacy and racism. Among those who adopt this view, it provides the basis for their experience of the world, and of their proper place within it, but this view of the world is entirely in the mind and hence rests on faith. They need to keep this faith constantly renewed. I illustrate this through an analysis of the response, centering around an anti-racist convocation, to an efflorescence of racist material at Oberlin College in 2013. In fact, the material had been produced as part of a hoax. The administration knew that, but let the convocation proceed anyway. Why was that? I compare the convocation to a religious revival meeting, for which the provenance of the provocative material was not an important consideration. Within exclusively maternal psychology, by playing along with this, the administration was just doing what it thought was its job.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anonymous Alumna. 2013. Dear Oberlin. Oberlin Microaggressions, March 4.
  2. Bautista, Megan. 2013. In Defense of AD Hogan. Oberlin Microaggressions, March 7.
  3. Berkrot, Rachel. 2013. On Examining Roles: The CNN Interview Debate Fearless and Loathing: Oberlin College’s Independent Student Website. March 14. Website, formerly at is now defunct.
  4. Coalition of Oberlin College and Conservatory Students. 2013. Final Proposal. Docstoc is now defunct. Text is available at Jacobson (2013b).
  5. Edmonia Lewis Center for Women and Transgender People. 2013. The Oberlin Review, February 15.Google Scholar
  6. Goffman, Erving. 1963. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
  7. Hoequist, Ida. 2013. An Open Letter to My Fellow Oberliners. Oberlin Blogs, March 4.
  8. Hogan A.D. 2013. Apology for Divisive Nature of Responses, Not for Protesting Krislov. The Oberlin Review, March 15.Google Scholar
  9. Jacobson, William A. 2013a. The Great Oberlin College Racism Hoax of 2013. August 22.
  10. ——— 2013b. Oberlin Racism Hoax Exploited to Advance “Even More Extreme Policies”. September 1.
  11. Jacobson, William A 2013c. Police Release More Records as to Oberlin College Racism Hoax. September 19.
  12. Mariner, Maya. 2013. Peace, Love, and Understanding: My Thoughts About the Hate Speech Oberlin College’s Independent Student Website. March 6 Website, formerly at is now defunct.
  13. NBC News. 2013. Hate Comes to Oberlin. March 5.
  14. Oberlin Microaggressions. 2013.
  15. Robinson, Emily. 2013. Letter Requesting Hogan’s Apology Reconsidered. The Oberlin Review, March 15.
  16. Ross, Chuck. 2013. Meet the Privileged Obama-Supporting White Kids Who Perpetrated Cruel Oberlin Race Hoax. August 22.
  17. Schwartz, Howard S. 2003. Revolt of the Primitive: An Inquiry Into the Roots of Political Correctness. Piscataway, NJ: Transaction Publishers.Google Scholar
  18. Students of the Africana Community, Residents of Afrikan Heritage House, and their (many) Allies. 2013 Oberlin Microaggressions. March 6.
  19. Sue, Derald Wing. 2010. Microaggression in Everyday Life: Race, Gender, and Sexual Orientation. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  20. Winter, Sara. 1977. Rooting out Racism. Issues in Radical Therapy 17: 24–30.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and the Author(s) 2016

Open Access This chapter is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial License, which permits any noncommercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author(s) and source are credited.

Authors and Affiliations

  • Howard S. Schwartz
    • 1
  1. 1.Emeritus Professor of Organizational BehaviorOakland UniversityRochesterUSA

Personalised recommendations