Cho’s Professor Nikki Giovanni: Teaching Hate At Virginia Tech
By Steve Sailer
Ever since South Korean immigrant Cho Seung-hui gunned down 32 people at
Virginia Tech, there has been much comment that the university should have
realized just from his two hate-filled and inept plays that the senior
English major was a dangerous creep who needed to be taken away.
For a playwrighting class, Cho penned Mr. Brownstone and Richard McBeef
(which, despite the Macbethian title, is a Hamlet-knock off about a young
hero’s lethal conflict with the new stepfather who murdered his real
Richard McBeef includes such sterling dialogue as:
“I hate him. Must kill Dick. Must kill Dick. Dick must die. Kill Dick.”
Many have asked: “How could the English Department not recognize the
horrific implications of these works?”
No one who wonders that, however, is familiar with the poetic oeuvre of one
of Cho’s own teachers, Virginia Tech’s Distinguished Professor of English
and Black Studies, Nikki Giovanni (for her website, click here).
Among the most celebrated figures of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s
and recipient of 21 honorary degrees, Giovanni has published poems
strikingly similar to Cho’s plays in both vileness and incompetence. For
The True Import of Present Dialog, Black vs. Negro, by Nikki Giovanni
Can you kill
Can you kill
Can a ni**er kill
Can a ni**er kill a honkie
Can a ni**er kill the Man
Can you kill ni**er
Huh? Ni**er can you
Do you know how to draw blood
Can you poison
Can you stab-a-Jew
Can you kill huh? Ni**er
Can you kill
Can you run a protestant down with your
’68 El Dorado
(that’s all they’re good for anyway)
Can you kill
Can you piss on a blond head
Can you cut it off
Can you kill
A ni**er can die
We ain’t got to prove we can die
We got to prove we can kill
Ironically, the author of these lines was asked to deliver the closing
remarks at Virginia Tech’s convocation memorializing the 32 slaughtered by
Cho. For some reason, Giovanni didn’t read The True Import.
The above poem is not an isolated example. Cho’s old professor has had, for
example, a Molotov cocktail obsession:
Also a company called Revolution has just issued
A special kit for little boys
Called Burn Baby
I’m told it has full instructions on how to siphon gas
And fill a bottle
And, then there’s this:
and it occurred to me
maybe i shouldn’t write
but clean my gun
and check my kerosene supply
She switched themes from kill-the-honkies to confessional self-obsession as
the market for up-against-the-wall poetry dried up at the end of the 1960s,
and now laughs off questions about her Cho-like early work.
Still, in 1997 the poetess had “Thug Life” tattooed on her arm to honor
slain gangsta rapper Tupac Shakur, who was gunned down in a long-running
fatal feud with other rappers. Wikipedia explains, with deadpan irony:
“She has stated that she would ‘rather be with the thugs than the people who
are complaining about them.’ She also tours nationwide and frequently speaks
out against hate-motivated violence.”
Giovanni also writes prose:
RACISM 101; Giovanni, Nikki; $20.00; This book indicts higher education for
the inequities it perpetuates, contemplates the legacy of the 60’s, provides
a survival guide for black students on predominately white campuses, and
denounces Spike Lee while offering her own ideas for a film about Malcolm X.
[From a list of “Books On The African American LGB Experience”]
She also has composed bon mots, such as:
“A white face goes with a white mind. Occasionally a black face goes with a
white mind. Very seldom a white face will have a black mind.”
And then there’s her insight, “The honkie’s whole sex thing is tied up to
As an anonymous commenter rhetorically asked on my blog:
“I wonder how many times Cho heard the phrase ‘white privilege’ while he was
(Click here to see how often the term appears in the Virginia Tech website.)
Giovanni is one of those sub-doggerel “poets” who has such Important Things
to say that she can’t be bothered to take the time to say them well. As she
herself admitted to Brian Lamb on C-SPAN’s Booknotes, “I’m not a very good
rhymer.” When she tries, it comes out like Cole Porter gone gaga:
if it’s gum we can chew it
I hope it’s love so we can do it
Perhaps her best-known poem is Ego Tripping (there may be a reason why), a
slab of Afrocentrist drivel from 1973:
I was born in the Congo.
I walked to the Fertile Crescent and built the sphinx.
I designed a pyramid so tough that a star that only glows every one hundred
years falls into the center giving divine perfect light.
I am bad.
Of course, Professor Giovanni, an elderly lady of 63, is not personally a
danger to other people, no matter how bloodthirsty some of her poems are.
(What impact she has had over the years on earnest, impressionable young
people might be a different question, however.)
Instead, she is a minimally talented self-promoter who has exploited various
ideological fads over the decades, such as black radicalism, feminism, and
Afrocentrism, to secure herself a comfy sinecure at Virginia Tech and to
spend her spare time traveling around to hear herself be praised. Her own
website lovingly lists 124 “Awards and Honors” she has garnered.
Giovanni’s fee for a personal appearance runs from $5,000 to $10,000. That’s
pocket lint compared to the $40,000+ demanded by Maya Angelou (who is
ensconced down the road from public Virginia Tech at posh private Wake
Forest), but it’s a living.
Giovanni [email her] is a small town version of New York City charlatan Al
Sharpton, You might think that the ringmaster of the 1987 Tawana Brawley
hoax whose racist rhetoric helped incite the Crown Heights pogrom of 1991
and the Freddie’s Fashion Mart mass murder of 1995 might, like Don Imus,
have talked himself out of a job by now.
And, yet, Sharpton not only endures, but prospers-elbowing his way back into
the spotlights as the moral arbiter at the center of the recent Imus
Being a race hustler apparently means never having to say you’re sorry.
[Steve Sailer is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.com features his daily blog.]
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