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Targeted Classicist Speaks Out

January 8, 2019
 
 

Dan-el Padilla Peralta, the assistant professor of classics at Princeton University who faced a race-based verbal attack on Saturday at a conference of the Society for Classical Studies, is telling his story. Peralta, who was not previously available for an interview about the incident involving Mary Frances Williams, an independent scholar, said in essay on Medium that the most “maddening aspect of Saturday’s episode was in some respects the most predictable.” While Williams asserted that Peralta had only been hired because he is black, Peralta said no one “rallied to the defense of blackness as a cornerstone of my merit.”

In other words, he said, “I should have been hired because I was black: because my Afro-Latinity is the rock-solid foundation upon which the edifice of what I have accomplished and everything I hope to accomplish rests; because my black body’s vulnerability challenges and chastizes the universalizing pretensions of color-blind classics; because my black being-in-the-world makes it possible for me to ask new and different questions within the field, to inhabit new and different approaches to answering them, and to forge alliances with other scholars past and present whose black being-in-the-world has cleared the way for my leap into the breach.”

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