Making Gumbo

Fri, 28 Apr 2017

My Spring-2017 “Interdependence and Race” (Psy 411) course at North Carolina State University





    People wonder, who signs up for my “Interdependence and Race” course? That course is really a course on intergroup dynamics in America caused by our growing neo-diversity. Race is only the starting point for understanding all of the (sexual orientation, gender-identity, ethnic, mental-health-condition, religious, political, bodily-condition) intergroup, intersectional tensions exploding in our nation. Who signs up for a course about that?

     Spring-2017 semester is at its end. On the last day, I give my final words to the class. After all that we have explored about the ways that America is struggling with its own neo-diversity, about the work that must be done to save the soul of America, I say:

    “From the kind of work that I have been doing for 40 years, you are now part of a new generation. And so I give your charge. As did John F. Kennedy, I declare to you on this day that the future of the change in America (and the world) is now part of your responsibilities; and part of your abilities. Using Kennedy’s words, I say,

      ‘Let the word go forth that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans.’

     Hold the torch high, because the blood done sign your name too.  Earn that… earn it…”

     Who has been in that course where we discuss and learn to analyze neo-diversity intergroup tensions? Well, it turns out that at NC State, a neo-diverse mix of the Wolfpack signs up. That is why I know, “…a change is gonna come.”

     For the first time ever, on the last day of the Spring-2017, after I gave my final words to the class, we took a class picture together to close out the course. Who signs up? Well like they say, a picture is worth a thousand words..

posted by Rupert  |   7:39 PM  |   0 comments
Tue, 18 Apr 2017

There is no innocent hate



      In my “Interdependence and Race” course (Psy 411), I emphasize that in order “to save the soul of America” we all have to check our stereotypes and tendencies toward bigotry.

     “There are no innocent” is always a major theme.  Last week I did a lecture in which I applied that to the panicked reactions to the election of President Donald Trump. One of the points I made is that only objecting to stereotypes and bigotry aimed at groups of people you like is not moving us toward our goal of a more perfect union. Bigotry is just bigotry, I said.

     The evening following that lecture, I got an email with the subject, “Thank you for today’s lesson”:

     “Dr. Nacoste, I’m currently writing this e-mail aboard a [North Carolina State University] Wolfline bus just minutes after your Psy 411 class today. While I was waiting at the bus stop, I noticed a student walk by wearing a t-shirt that said this: “Infidel for Trump” on the front and “Make America Great, One Round at a Time” on the back with a picture of a rifle. My mind immediately jumped to this thought: I HATE those kinds of people.

     Then I remembered what you said just minutes earlier, that that kind of thinking is part of the problem. There are no innocent and I still have some growing to do. Thank you for enlightening me.”

     Real teaching matters.


posted by Rupert  |   9:55 PM  |   0 comments
Sat, 08 Apr 2017

Tilting At The Windmills of White-Privilege

    For years, I have been pointing out the problems with relying on the flimsy idea of “…white privilege” to try to change someone’s way of thinking about neo-diversity issues; to try to change a person’s behavior; to try to engage in productive dialogue that allows different points of view to be expressed.

     Thinking about our collective difficult-days-ahead, one day in March-2017, my tweets @DrNacoste carried my message again.

     #diversity/Talk about white-privilege has not weakened the allure of President Trump’s anti-group rhetoric   

    #diversity/Shouting white-privilege is ineffective– the notion itself allows people to dodge responsibility for bigotry.

    #diversity/White-privilege is a Freudian claim that does not address here-and-now bigotry.

    #diversity/ Pointing to white privilege to try to stop here-and-now bigotry will never work because privilege is not about the here-and-now.

    #diversity/White privilege is crying wolf to not look at the bigotry in the crier’s own life.         

   #diversity/Wolf-crying white-privilege fails the there-are-no-innocent standard for having productive dialogue 

    Understand that I was doing more than tweeting. I was doing more than just pointing out the futile tilting at the windmill of white privilege. Attached to each tweet was my newest and most relevant essay, “Sometime Bigotry is Just Bigotry.”  Part of what I say in that essay is

“Tell me, has all the talk about white privilege been effective in weakening the attractiveness of President Donald Trump’s anti-group rhetoric toward some of our fellow Americans? Not at all, and you know it.

     Why not? It’s simply because the claim of white privilege lets people off the hook. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all know that there are a lot of ways to be privileged in America. For that reason, shouting about white privilege falls on deaf ears. Surely you see that the claim of privilege fits with too many versions of the American dream (that people think are positive). America is a place where you can “…get ahead of, earn more privileges than, other people.” Sure, that ambition is no longer supposed to be racial, but… well…”

 “Sometimes bigotry is just bigotry”:



posted by Rupert  |   12:16 PM  |   0 comments
Sun, 05 Mar 2017

Humans of NC State University

Humans of NC State

“I’ve been at this university almost thirty years. When I first got here, twenty-three percent of this campus was female. What is it now? It’s 50/50. So somebody who was here twenty years ago would be looking at this going ‘what the …’ Exactly. So you do the sex of a person, gender identity – we have a GLBT center. We do religion, we do ethnicity… This campus twenty years ago didn’t have any of that, but now we do. And people who are sending you here have no clue. So they say, ‘Go have a good time,’ and you come here and you go, ‘Oh my god!’ That’s the challenge of today: to help young people understand where we live now and the context in which we live.”
-Dr. Rupert Nacoste

posted by Rupert  |   2:02 PM  |   0 comments
Tue, 14 Feb 2017

27 Books For 2017

    Milwaukee Independent a daily news magazine put my book “Taking on Diversity” on their list

27 books for 2017: A suggested list for Milwaukee readers

 The editors introduce the list this way:

 “As a new year begins, and the effects of change arrive at different speeds to different people, there are still many individuals struggling to understand the political, economic, regional, and social shifts that resulted in one of the most stunning political upsets in the nation’s history.”

 Given that concern with helping people adjust to social change, having my book on the list makes a lot of sense: “Taking on Diversity: How We Can Move From Anxiety to Respect” (Prometheus Books, 2015).

posted by Rupert  |   9:43 PM  |   0 comments
Tue, 17 Jan 2017

The Bottom: Howard Owen’s Willie Black Mystery


    Love mysteries? Just like to read a mystery every now and then?  Doesn’t matter; if you haven’t already, you need to pick up Howard Owen’s Willie Black mysteries.  I have been a big fan since the first one was published; the award winning “Oregon Hill.” I have just finished the fourth, “The Bottom” which is a breathtaking read.                 

    Willie Black is a jaded, almost alcoholic, chain smoking, but for a good woman is working toward personal redemption, dogged, newspaper man.  In the city of Richmond, VA, Willie Black has a nose for gritty news which almost always involves unsolved murders that he tries to solve as a journalist no matter that the pursuit puts him at risk of losing his job, and sometimes puts his friends and family members in danger.  His almost uncanny ability to find people who will talk only to him is due in part to his long history in the city and to his being mixed race in a city that still has racial borders. 

    A former newspaper sports editor himself, Howard Owen writes these Willie Black mysteries with an insider’s understanding of modern newspapers and the challenges those newspapers face from waning readerships because of the influence of the internet.  Filled with memorable characters like Awesome-Dude, the novels are written in language that is concise and hardboiled, with a rough, sometimes poetic eloquence that makes the story sing with humanity and unexpected, but welcome, humor. 

     I cannot recommend the Willie Black mysteries more highly. 

posted by Rupert  |   8:53 PM  |   0 comments
Sun, 08 Jan 2017

A Diversity Doctor?



    If you have read the cover of my newest book “Taking on Diversity” you will have noticed that the subtitle is “A Diversity Doctor’s Best Lessons from the Campus.”  I did not choose that subtitle nor did I suggest the moniker of “Diversity Doctor.”  Prometheus Books, my publishing house decided on that way of marketing the book. I feel a pinch every time I read “…diversity doctor.”

Even so, it seems to help people pin down the point of my book.  Here for example is an excerpt from a very recent review of “Taking on Diversity.” 

 A Diversity Doctor’s Best Lessons from the Campus; Book Review By Kathy-Anne Jordan, .Ed.D, is Associate professor of education at Mercy College in New York.

 “In Taking on Diversity, Rupert W. Nacoste examines the struggles and emotions related to our encounters and interactions with diverse others and provides strategies to facilitate peaceful intergroup relations. Neodiversity is the term he uses to describe the various social markers of difference—race, class, religion, ability, sexual orientation, and so on—that we encounter on a daily basis and the anxiety that often results from interacting with others who vary from us in terms of one or more of these markers. Neodiversity, then, not only describes the current social landscape, it refers to our encounters with difference across a variety of contexts, and therefore requires that we learn how to adapt; specifically, it requires change in how we think about and respond to diversity.    

     At a time when students on college campuses across the United States are posting photos of themselves in Blackface, and college administrators are responding to an overall increase in racial incidents and protests, Nacoste’s work provides a valuable contribution to a much-needed conversation on race and underscores the importance of teaching young people how to accept and respect, rather than simply tolerate, diverse others

    Nacoste’s approach to teaching has earned him the respect of his students because it is infused with passion, life experiences, and personal values; he also provides a safe space for honest, open dialogue, which is extremely important in a classroom of over fifty neodiverse students discussing sensitive topics. In his course on interpersonal relationships and race, [along with the social psychology] students learn historical truths about America’s racial past, which replace the sanitized and “sales pitch” versions of American history—commonly taught in middle and high schools—that breed ignorance, insensitivity, and intolerance.

     In preparing his students for the neodiversity that confronts them, Nacoste teaches them about the social psychology of interpersonal/intergroup dynamics; they learn to evaluate and respond more effectively to the intergroup tensions that emerge when people from different backgrounds interact with each other. Through first-person narratives included within each of the eight chapters, the book offers a brief, but candid glimpse into the minds of young people as they struggle to understand and resolve the dilemmas of diversity within their own lives. Although the work mainly focuses on the experiences of college students, readers will immediately recognize that the book offers useful insights that can benefit all of us.”

 That review really captures the heart of my book.  Even so, I am not a “diversity doctor.”

 I am a social psychologist.

 See, I just can’t let it go.        

 You can find the complete review in Global Education Review, 3 (4). 176-177 which you can access here:

posted by Rupert  |   8:33 PM  |   0 comments