Virginia Military Institute Professor Wows Students With Moving Tales Of Her KKK Past
The Virginia Military Institute opened its doors to Black cadets more than 50 years ago, but it's hardly a welcoming environment. In fact it is quite racist. According to a feature in the Washington Post, VMI promotes an "atmosphere of hostility and cultural sensitivity" that makes life hell for students who aren't white sons and daughters of the Confederacy.
William Bunton, 20, a Black senior from Portsmouth, Virginia, said he wakes up every day wondering, “Why I am still here?" And he's not just being emo. Keniya Lee, who graduated in 2019, lodged a complaint last year against E. Susan Kellogg, an adjunct business professor. Kellogg's father was a member of the Klux Klux Klan during the 1930s, and far from feeling embarrassed about it, she shared stories of her dad's exploits with the class.
"KKK parties were the best parties ever, they had candy, clowns, games, and meetings were held there," Kellogg told the class, according to a memo that Lee wrote three days afterward and that she later delivered to administrators and posted on Twitter in June.
@Kaleb_El_Uno Spring semester of my senior year, my business professor had a lecture about her affiliation in the K… https://t.co/GuCqY9acW6— KEN♏️😏 (@KEN♏️😏)1591305052.0
Kellogg is 75, but instead of screaming at The Beatles, she and her high school friends in Ohio cruised their lily-white neighborhood "looking for people who didn't belong" (that's usually Black folks or anyone browner than Kim Kardashian). Kellogg and her fellow thugs would then “bop" these innocent people upside their heads with a two-by-four.
By the way, this is “bop."
What Kellogg described is straight-up assault.
It wasn't until Kellogg started college that she had any contact with Black people, aside from all the “bopping."
"I didn't know if they bathed, what clothes they wore, how they ate, what they ate, if they could read, study, or even had the ability to learn," Kellogg said, according to Lee's memo.
Kellogg apparently graduated high school without learning about Frederick Douglass. She has a lot in common with Donald Trump. Black people aren't from Melmac. We're people just like Kellogg, just not as awful. Someone in the 1960s — a century after slavery ended — should take for granted that Black people consume nutrients like other humans. I didn't visit Ohio until 2012 and never questioned whether the white residents had the “ability to learn," even if they do eat that strange “chili."
“How come she couldn't see I was uncomfortable with her bragging about the KKK who still terrorizes Black people to this day?" Lee asked. "She couldn't even pronounce my name right. She kept calling me Kenya."
Lee was the only Black person in Kellogg's class. She asked her white classmates to sign a written account of Kellogg's Klan-versation as witnesses, but they refused because they're racist cowards. Lee still reported the traumatic incident to school administrators, who asked Kellogg to apologize.
KELLOGG: I was sorry she was feeling threatened because that was not the intention at all. But I was surprised she was upset.
KELLOGG: Young people are fairly quick to make judgments. She was lacking in some perspective.
Kellogg confirmed Lee's account with the Post. However, she stressed that she personally never “bopped" minorities, but her racist friends did. It's unclear why they'd let her ride along without ever “bopping" anyone. Maybe it was her car.
She claimed she shared the stories that brought Lee to tears because diversity and racism were big topics on campus, and this was apparently her contribution. She thought it was "important for students to understand that people change and that you can't crucify me based on my father's history." But there was no evidence she or her father had ever changed. Sure, she's not “bopping" anymore but few people over 70 like to drive after dark.
Kellogg's sister, Marilyn Smith, claims that her stories are “horrendous lies" and “complete fiction." Meanwhile, Kellogg volunteered to the Post that the Klan parties were a "delight to go to." She said she once found her father's Klan robes and “they smelled like firewood," which is not encouraging if you know anything about the history of lynching in America.
KELLOGG: They smelled like firewood, and it was the nicest smell in the world.
This person is still employed at VMI.
Sadly, that is but one of many racist incidents at the military college. Read the full piece in the Post for the grisly details.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He's on the board of the Portland Playhouse theater and writes for the immersive theater Cafe Nordo in Seattle. Tickets are on sale now for his latest Nordo collaboration, "Curiouser and Curiouser," an adaptation of "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland" and "Through the Looking Glass." It promises to feel like an actual evening with SER (for good or for ill).