July 4, 2019
Full-time dyke Indiana Seresin has issued a statement on Medium, explaining why she is withdrawing from Cambridge University. It’s all to do with “structural racism” and “white privilege,” you see.
I am withdrawing from my PhD program at Cambridge due to the racism I have witnessed in the English faculty and at the broader university. It is always tricky to know whether to divest one’s energy from an unjust institution or to stay and fight to improve it. In this case, I concluded that I have an imperative to leave. As a white researcher whose scholarship draws significantly on black studies, I believe that I need to earn the right to do this work. I also believe that the ethical and intellectual integrity of my research was compromised by the fact that it was situated at Cambridge. This is particularly true because, as a white student, I benefited from the structural racism of the university.
The disproportionate whiteness of the Cambridge undergraduate population has received substantial coverage in the media. Less frequently discussed is the near total absence of black students and lecturers in particular, an issue that is a particular problematic in my faculty. Currently, there are no black lecturers or postdoctoral researchers in the English faculty. This is not unique to Cambridge; it reflects broader trends across the UK. Yet if Cambridge wants to maintain its position as a leading institution within the British and global academic community, it cannot afford to cohere with these trends, let alone have them be manifest to an especially severe degree.
This is not only an ethical question; the university and English faculty are intellectually impoverished by the dramatic overrepresentation of middle- and upper-class white people among their members. In particular, the systemic exclusion of both black scholars and black thought (which are two different yet related problems) is an intellectually bankrupting exercise that will rightly make an institution both illegitimate and irrelevant.
Indiana’s badly written screed – anyone who writes prose as lame as the text in italics doesn’t belong in an English faculty anyway – seemed to me strangely lacking in empathy for white people, even though she claimed to be one.
This lack of empathy is alleged to be characteristic of a certain tribe.
I became curious about whether Indiana could be a member of this tribe.
According to this article in the Daily Mail, she is the daughter of cinematographer Benjamin Seresin, who is the son of Harry Seresin, of whom Ben said: “My dad was a bon viveur. His house parties were legendary, as was his libido.”
Harry Seresin was a Russian Jewish émigré who became a leading entrepreneur in Wellington’s restaurant and cultural scene; he was co-founder of the Downstage theatre, running its business side and setting up its restaurant.
So, yes. Harry, Ben and Indiana are all members of that certain tribe who have been disliked throughout history for no reason.