Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Another Murder of A Black, Gay English Professor

Don Belton. Photo credit: Indiana University.

The ranks of Black and openly gay professors, already not large, has been tragically diminished, again.

Two days after the accused murderer of UC Riverside (and formerly UC Irvine) English Prof. Lindon Barrett was found dead in his jail cell, another Black, gay English Professor has been murdered, this time in Indiana.

Don Belton, an English Professor at Indiana University, was viciously stabbed to death 27 December 2009 at his Bloomington, Indiana, home by Mike Griffin, a blue-eyed ex-Marine who had served in Iraq. Griffin turns 26 next Monday. According to friends of Prof. Belton, Griffin has an ongoing relationship with Belton and invited him and his girlfriend over to his home on Christmas day. A policeman's affidavit notes that Belton, in a diary entry written a week before, had expressed happiness about "Michael" coming into his life.

Griffin, who was turned in by his girlfriend, is now claiming that Belton sexually assaulted him twice on Christmas Day and when Belton would not apologize, he killed him two days later, stabbing him "until he quit moving", with a "peace keeper" knife he acquired before heading for Iraq, according to the police. However, in court today, Griffin pleaded not guilty.

Belton's friends have rallied to the slain professor's defense, arguing that Griffin's claim of being assaulted is nothing short of a dubious "gay panic" defense, used to inflame the public and stirr up homophobia. They have organized a vigil for New Year's Day and also created a web page to ensure justice for Don Belton:

The site also links to research materials debunking the gay panic defense.

Hopefully, the truth will prevail, given that Griffin appears to have acted with premeditation, arriving in Belton's home with a change of clothes (he later dumped the bloodied clothes) and his peace keeper knife tucked in a scabbard on his belt.

The parallels with the Lindon Barrett case are inescapable. Both professors (Belton was 53; Barrett, 46) apparently had younger lovers, in their 20s, and both lovers in the end betrayed them.

According to Belton's profile on the IU web site, he is the author of a novel, Almost Midnight and editor of anthology on black masculinity, Speak My Name.

He previously taught literature, fiction and world cinema at Macalester College, the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and the University of Pennsylvania.

Belton's own web site, still up, shows some of his quirkiness and humor: "Greetings! Don Belton here. I am an author, educator, jazz fiend, bibliophile and cineaste. Welcome to my website and blog. In the coming weeks and months you will find here what I trust will be an exciting and growing compendium of culture, arts, and commentary. So, stay tuned!"

His own bio states, tongue in cheek: "Don was born in posh penthouse on the Right Bank of Paris with a silver spoon in his mouth, listening to Miles Davis playing live in celebration of his birth."

Another life snuffed out. Rest In Peace Don.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Suspect in Lindon Barrett murder found dead Christmas Day

Lindon Barrett

Marlon Martinez, accused in the 2008 strangulation death of longtime UCI English/African American Studies Prof. Lindon Barrett (who had gone to teach at UC Riverside at the time) has been found dead in his cell in the Los Angeles County Men's Central Jail.

According to the Long Beach Press Telegram, Martinez, 22, "died in a six-person cell on Dec. 25 after sheriff's deputies conducting a security check found him suffering from respiratory distress and were unable to revive him."

Autopsy results are inconclusive, pending toxicology tests, which could take more than six weeks, according to the 28 December 2009 news report.

This brings to a sudden and unexpected close any opportunity to uncover why Prof. Barrett was killed and the nature of his relationship with the accused.

For the July 21, 2008 KUCI Subversity radio program on Prof. Barrett (which also aired on KUCR at UC Riverside) and was excerpted on KPCC, click here: .

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Look Back: 2009 Passings: Los Angeles Times Orange County Edition

Irvine -- In our end-of-the-year edition today (28 December 2009),
Subversity, a KUCI public affairs program, looks back at 2009. It is
customary to reflect on those who have passed away in the year. We
did a show on Michael Jackson as a queer icon when the pop icon died,
and two programs on the elimination of an important UCI resource, SAAS, the
Student Academic Advanced Services, and over the months, many shows
on the slow -- and lingering death -- of the California Master Plan
for Higher Education and of the University of California as a public

Today, however, we look back another passing, that of a once-important OC

In this Subversity look back at 2009, we repeat an airing of our
March 9, 2009 remembrance of the glorious days of the Los Angeles
Times OC edition, with long-time Times reporter David Reyes, and
observer John Earl, now publisher of OC Voice, now "the Green Voice for the Orange Coast."
The show airs 9 a.m. today on KUCI, 88.9 FM in Orange County,
California, and is simulcast via

See also:

Orange County - Ex-Times Scribes Dishes on OC Edition Demise, OC Weekly Rise.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Win for all: Library to open 24 hours

Irvine -- In a victory for common sense, UCI will keep a large campus library open 24 hours starting this coming Friday (4 December) through the end of Finals (the subsequent Friday at 5 p.m.). See library announcement.

Faced with the prospect of student protesters staging a "study-in" after the original 5 p.m. closure Friday at what the protesters have renamed the Langston Hughes Library, wise heads prevailed and the University found the money to keep the library open.

Some faculty members have been invited to participate in the teach-in announced earlier. According to the protesters' posters, teach-in activities begin outside Langson Library at 3 p.m. on Friday, 4 December.

The prospect of police intervening if the library were occupied after hours must have spurred the University to find the funds to keep the library open. After all, keeping the library open 24 hours costs less than paying overtime to police decked out in riot gear.

And UCI protesters have this reaction to the library staying open during exam week and the weekend before: "Direct action gets the goods!" See more of the protesters' reaction here.