Proposed legislation against “divisive” courses or events at public colleges and universities in Arizona alarmed scholars in that state and elsewhere before the bill reportedly died a quick death Tuesday. The bill was prompted by a course on white studies at Arizona State University and came after a spate of controversies involving scholars of race, many of them white, commenting on white people.
It’s true that, in fulfilling the duties of the presidency with great dignity, Mr. Obama represents the highest expression of the goal of assimilation. But for African-Americans, he was also the ultimate lesson in how this antidote alone is insufficient to heal the gaping wounds of racial injustice in America. It’s clear that black leadership, in itself, isn’t enough to transform the country. So we must confront the end of an era and the dawn of a new one.
I do think there are a number of concerning parallels and many lessons for our current moment. By the end of the 19th century, a rather chaotic array of colleges and universities had developed into an organizational field with a shared logic: to compete against an ever-increasing number of colleges, types of education should be matched to particular groupings of people as a means to attract donors. Characterized in broad strokes, this resulted in a segmented system of higher education by race, class and gen
“In the immediate aftermath of the protests at Mizzou and Yale, there were days when the phones were ringing almost nonstop,” Shaun Harper, the center’s executive director, said. “We were getting so many calls from leaders asking, ‘Can you come and do a climate study?’ Spending four days on a campus interviewing hundreds of people is intense. It was getting to the point that we were exceeding our capacity.”
“I don’t care that he talks about LeBron,” Maverick Carter told ESPN.com. “He could say he’s not that good or the greatest in the world as a basketball player. I wouldn’t care. It’s the word ‘posse’ and the characterization I take offense to. If he would have said LeBron and his agent, LeBron and his business partners or LeBron and his friends, that’s one thing. Yet because you’re young and black, he can use that word. We’re grown men.”
It is imperative that our colleagues stop being surprised when students of color are able to thoughtfully articulate themselves in their writing and in class discussions. Such low expectations of students of color who have, at minimum, earned admission to our institutions effectively erases their demonstrated capabilities and ongoing potential to meet subjective academic standards.