James Arthur Snead was a man who studied English, European fiction and taught courses on modernism and German literature at Yale University.
According to YAMP (Yale Aids Memorial Project), various students and professors expressed how they viewed him as a person and as a professor before he passed away from aids. Two individuals who posted on the page and who knew Snead personally shared deep experiences that they had with him. Peter Schneibner met Snead on a bus during the late 1980s and although he was fond of him and his personality, the experience that he had on the bus through him off. When Schneibner and Snead were on the bus together and on their two-hour road trip their bus driver pulled over for a fifteen-minute break. When Snead got off of the bus to use the restroom for a few moments a man who happened to be white pointed out that Snead was dangerous.
“When he went for a pee, an old white guy sitting in front of me turned around and told me to be careful with the blacks. I should be very suspicious, he warned. A black guy talking in a foreign language can’t be any good, and sitting in the first half of the bus is bad behavior. By law, of course, blacks used to have to sit in the back seats.”
With the information that was shared with him, Shneibner did not change how he viewed Snead which was definitely a positive thing but, I found that that situation was quite funny because the following individual, Mark Schoofs who posted about Snead says, “He had a way of carrying himself so that race wasn’t able to obscure him. He was a visible man, the opposite of Ralph Ellison’s character, but it wasn’t because he acted white or avoided race. Hardly.”
I found humor in the story about the white guy calling Snead dangerous due to his skin color and talent in knowing multiple languages because according to his classmates, friends, and people that he knew, they found that Snead didn’t care much about race. He cared more about the historical events that have to lead us to where we are now or to how things were during the times in which he was alive. It is funny how there are people who want to be hateful or harmful to another person but don’t realize that their hate doesn’t matter much and shouldn’t matter as much as they think it does.