A group of Seattle University students is demanding that a dean be fired, accusing her of recommending a student read a book that includes a racial slur in its title.
Jodi Kelly, the dean of the university’s Matteo Ricci College, told a black student last year that she should read the book "N-----: An Autobiography by Dick Gregory." The unnamed student told The Stranger that she was unable to attend class after hearing Kelly, who is white, say the book title.
The student said Kelly “used the n-word… she said it three or four times. The full word.”
The activists reportedly launched their protest at the humanities college on Wednesday. Some students also demanded changes to a curriculum which they said was erasing their “personal and ancestral voices.”
The student who spoke with Kelly said, “It is not her place to tell me not to be offended. This woman needs to be removed. I’m worried about the students that come after me." However, the student also said, “I don’t want to be the reason she resigns. Everyone has stories but this was just too traumatic.”
Kelly said she was simply proposing a piece of literature to a student who asked.
“The student asked for more diversified reading,” Kelly told The Stranger. “I complied and pulled the book from my shelf. The title, as you know, could startle, so I relayed the story of Dick Gregory explaining to his maternal ancestors why he titled it that way… I am not in the habit of every using that word… I believe it demeans us all.”
Comedian and civil rights activist Dick Gregory published the autobiography in 1964.