UConn professor reflects on racist slurs from 22-year-old college student

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Last week, white 22-year-old University of Kentucky student Sophia Rosing was filmed repeatedly saying racial slurs directed at two students of color.  

Since the video was posted online, Rosing has dropped out of the University of Kentucky, a WKYT article said.  

The night of the incident, Rosing was arrested and charged with assault, public intoxication and disorderly conduct, a WKYT article said. 

Noël Cazenave is a sociology professor at the University of Connecticut who spoke on his initial response to the video and modern day racism in the United States. 

“I was hoping that people would not reduce what she did and said to the actions of a drunk individual,” Cazenave said. “I hope viewers realized that the video reflects what is going on in this country and what we can expect in the future.”  

Although people like to believe we are moving to a less racist society, Cazenave said videos like the one of Rosing show that racism is still prevalent today.  

“I think we are going to see many more of these Sophias in the future,” Cazenave said. “What goes on in someone like her mind to say that word is a product of social facts that she was born into and learned,” Cazenave said. 

While the actions of Rosing could be seen as violent and derogatory towards an entire racial group, Cazenave highlighted that, even as a person of color, he hopes that others will not combat her words of hate with their own. 

“I don’t want to participate in the vicious attack of this individual,” Cazenave said. 

Cazenave teaches one undergraduate course and two graduate courses within the UConn sociology department with a focus on racism.  

Growing up in Louisiana during the Jim Crow South, Cazenave said anger initially brought about his interest in social justice and breaking down the racist U.S. system.  

“My attitude in college was that I wanted to grow up one day and kick this system in its ass,” Cazenave said.  

Cazenave noted that, sadly, incidents like this video show what the future of society and racism in the U.S. will look like. 

“A lot of young folks think that when older people like me die off, that people like Sophia will go away. That’s not the case,” Cazenave said. 

Coining the IPA system term, Cazenave said too many white Americans portray having the Ignorance of not knowing, the Privilege of not needing to know and the Arrogance of not wanting to know.

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