An odd man to the ignorant and a brilliant one to the morally aware, Stanley James is a crusader in the classroom.
In a “Black Lives Matter”-era crossed with post-desegregation racism, James, like the late Tupac Shakur, is like a rose that grew from concrete.
The son of a special-ops solider, James was born in Texas. He says he has dealt with racism his entire life.
He lived the life of an Army brat in 34 different states. He attended 18 schools. James received an early education that most never will. He saw the United States through his own eyes rather than a television screen. He said he also faced racism that would influence him to this day.
James says he has held wisdom in high regard ever since he was a child, largely due to his grandfather who said “I don’t want you to have a head full of nothing.” Now he encourages his students to seek wisdom and knowledge.
“If you have wisdom you are probably the one person in the insane asylum saying, ‘You know that all the crazy people have the keys around here?’” he said.
“Three percent are doing fine then the rest of us are running around like lemmings,
pushing us over the cliff saying this is what we do,” he said. “And then halfway down when it is too late, they think that maybe you were right, before both of you smash on to the rocks and it is over.”
Once a man running toward the cliffs himself, James was a top junior broker at the Pacific Stock Exchange.
“I had the saddle shoes and whole preppy look down,” he noted.
His career as a stockbroker ended one day when the owner of the Pacific Stock Exchange visited his office and asked James if he were a Republican. James responded, “No, I’m a Democrat.” Within minutes James was fired, without the opportunity to collect his belongings. His white friend who helped him get the job was also fired.
After that James decided he was not going to be one who smashed onto the rocks below. After thousands of encounters with racists, he said he has survived them all. Since then James has been an outspoken Civil Rights activist, leader of the anti-apartheid movement at UCSD, a researcher for three Pulitzer Prize winners, and a teacher for 28 years. His mother wanted him to be a preacher, but James says, “his teach is his preach.”
James calling to teach came from his mentor, UCSD theater professor Floyd Gaffney, who suggested he apply for SWC’s vacant African-American studies position. James revived collapsing classes and breathed fresh life into the program. His first class was only 13 students, but with spirited lectures, vacant seats filled to 27 and finally to 40. James teaches “correct history,” he said, which eludes mythologies found in many classes and books. He was hired full time in 1989 and estimates that he has taught more than 25,000 people.
James gifts students with knowledge and anti-racism armory. History is more then knowledge, he said, it is an anti-racist tactic. James teaches his students that people who are bigots and racist are people who are unaware of the correct history of America. He educates students in hopes that they will spread the real stories of our past.
James called upon for The Sun to “start to behave like Black Lives Matter and begin to discuss the racial environment of this campus, and academic dilemmas our young black Americans face.”
James said he is a firm believer that universities by their very nature should incorporate a plethora of diverse people. Students should learn by interacting with others and receiving perspectives they otherwise would not gain within the pursuit of higher learning.
Meanwhile, academic dilemmas facing young students of color are what James call “hostile” environments.
“For 20 years we have failed to educate large amounts of African-Americans because of the idea that they would lower the quality of education,” he said.
He is still puzzled about what motivates the hatred of a racist person. He said much of racism is learned from our environment and our life experiences.
At his age James has seen acts I, II and III of racial hatred. Each scene is different, except ignorance playing the role of antagonist. There will be no encore, as James has already made a quick exit to uplift students.
As for racism in America, James said we are in a state of regression, caused by the fear of opportunities going to minorities. He remains optimistic, however, reminding SWC students that they “cannot let one man judge or run the earth.” James teaches the importance of service to others and believes that truth will set all free.
As the physical battle for freedom was settled long ago, today James advocates for the mental freedom of his students.