Comments on: Grad students of color and white faculty FAIL History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sun, 21 Sep 2014 12:24:08 +0000 hourly 1 By: Western Dave Mon, 22 Aug 2011 03:08:58 +0000 You ask: “What are effective strategies for making non-white students and non-white perspectives part of the way we do business?”

Here are some strategies I have used in the past that my students of color have told me worked for them. Remember I work with HS students in a private school so some of these may not work in a college context. 1) pointing out a time when I was racist (in this case, I time I wanted to use “the n-word” to hurt somebody. I didn’t, but because I didn’t want to get my ass kicked by the assholes who were blasting music at one in the morning and woke up my sleeping sick baby who I had just gotten down. I went to confront them and burned with pure hatred. I want to physically and mentally punish them with every weapon I had. 2. Include stories about African-Americans, Native Americans, etc. in your syllabus and class. Mention scholars of color that you have worked with, admire, etc. Let your students know that they are of color but not blatently. 3. Never get defensive. (This is really key, about 8 years ago, I had a really tense class – not a class session, but a tense class every day – and I thought the African American students were pissed at me. I asked a student I taught formerly who was the leader of the Cultural Association to moderate a discussion between me and some of the students I perceived as angry. The students were angry, but not with me, they loved me it turned out, they were angry with some of their peers who weren’t going where I was leading (the denial of the rape of slave women was especially weird and probably indicative of some other issues that these students had). We had a really productive discussion about what teachers can and can’t do, and what they would want me to do and what I could do. 4. Master the phrases, “aren’t you going to argue back?” and “Hm, I’ll have to think about that, ask me again next week.” For many students of color, a rejoinder to an argument is a sign that the argument is closed not just beginning because it’s typical of their experience. To let folks know that you are open to argument, come up with some phrase that you can drop to let folks know that your critique of their thinking is a first step in a process. You also have to take those critiques seriously, and think about them for a week. After you’ve done that, and come back with a reply (perhaps after reading a suggested article). Acknowledge how your thinking has changed, or emphasize points of agreement as well as points of difference. 5. Reread Chela Sandoval’s article on Women of Color and the Differential Mode of Conciousness. (can’t find cite right now).

By: J. Otto Pohl Sun, 21 Aug 2011 18:03:37 +0000 Working in Africa I do not have any of these problems. Almost all of our students including all the graduate students in the department are Black. Most of the professors and administrators are as well. As such I do not ever have to worry about diversity. Given the discussion above I would say not having to worry about the racial composition of the university is another added bonus to working in Africa rather than the US. Race is simply not an issue here.

By: Z Sat, 20 Aug 2011 04:28:49 +0000 “Apparently it was impossible because the professor involved had a wife from the south american cone.”

This is one of the most typical defenses of racism and so irritating. Oh, we loved them, we had children with them, we are descended in part from them, we love their food, so that act of racial discrimination could not have been such, oh no.

By: New England Nat Thu, 18 Aug 2011 14:40:04 +0000 During my masters program, on a majority minority campus in a large north eastern urban city, I had a class on colonialism where by the end of the semester all the minority students had dropped. When I (pasty white girl) tried to bring this up to my adviser privately he basically attacked me for even suggesting this might suggest a bias. Apparently int was impossible because the professor involved had a wife from the south american cone.

I will point out that the whitest country by percentage on the planet is in the south american cone not in Europe. YMMV.

When I quietly asked one of my friends who had dropped the class, she had another reason than racial bias to drop, but she pointed out to me that race was never the acceptable answer to any question posed by the professor. In a class on colonialism.

By: Perpetua Thu, 18 Aug 2011 13:12:51 +0000 @Karen – Wow! The thread you linked to was mind-blowing. It explained a *lot* about how racist attitudes are permitted to persist in academia. The level of deflection was unreal – instead of talking about the racism they’d experienced/perpetuated, they were all talking about how racist Karen is! Because she made generalizations about white people! Poor, discriminated white folks. They just can’t catch a break. Just so you know, Karen, I think your blog is great (especially the advice – I think grad students should run not walk over there) and that this piece was thought-provoking.

I can’t do much in my position to mentor or support grad students of color (there aren’t any!), but I do try to make sure that my undergrad classes represent not only women, but gays & lesbians, transgendered folks (yes even in the pre-modern era!), and people of color. It’s not much, but it’s something.

By: Historiann Thu, 18 Aug 2011 04:00:39 +0000 Jeezy Creezy. That’s about as silly as this threadjack, from back in the day.

So many jacks would be prevented if people 1) bothered to READ blog posts in their entirety before commenting, and 2) if other people READ the blog post in question so that they could call B.S. on the threadjacker.

Love how they take your mockery of white attitudes as your serious diagnosis of the problem (i.e. that white people are not a unified “people.”)

By: Karen Kelsky Thu, 18 Aug 2011 02:32:56 +0000 As one commenter there writes: “I do think that epistemic ignorance can be blameworthy.”

So, you know, at least SOMEONE gets it.


By: Karen Kelsky Thu, 18 Aug 2011 02:23:19 +0000 I’m so happy to have found this discussion arising from my original post! Thank you, Tenured Radical, for bringing my attention to it on Twitter. I’ve learned a lot from reading this comment stream.

It seems that perhaps none of you wonderful commenters have stumbled upon the, ahem, *other* discussion of my post…the one on the Feminist Philosophers blog? If you want to see the spectacle of white academics (feminists no less) using their giant brains to deflect even the suggestion of white racism, well, then, this is your chance! Yay!

(I will say this about the comment stream there–I DO accept the criticism that I over-rely on ableist language and the metaphor of blindness in the post. That could be improved.)

By: Tenured Radical Thu, 18 Aug 2011 01:49:38 +0000 Can’t help but toss this in: practically every scholar of color I know is mistaken for some other scholar of color and called by hir name — undergrad, grad, tenure stream and tenured. Also have a male colleague who calls me by the name of the female US historian just senior to me. Have one friend who was called in for a stern lecture on first year grad performance by the DGS and then it gradually became clear he had meant to call in ah, er, um, the other Chinese woman.

Why are clueless men and white people not so humiliated by this kind of behavior that they burst into flames on the spot? And yet they must not be, because they take no trouble not to do it.

By: koshembos Thu, 18 Aug 2011 01:26:56 +0000 The whole exchange sounds foreign to me. Our department always has African American and Hispanic doctoral students. Of course, we have a large body of Asian students. (Is that a color?) A third of the faculty is women and a large group is of Indian descent; some of them consider themselves colored.

Of about 40+ doctoral students that graduate under my advising, two were African Americans and one Hispanic. None of them had any problems, not even technical ones. On the contrary, I attended the two women’s wedding (as the only white guy and was treated as royalty) and kids birth celebrations. Until now I never thought about it; my kids dated African Americans which didn’t bother me at all.

May be you have to be forthcoming, don’t assume that you can get into the student’s shoes (any student) and treat them with respect. After all, they came to study and graduate, they don’t demand much.

We had a long term discrimination against Arab students that started in the late 80s and continue until the middle 90s. 9/11 was no problem. I fought for the Arab students and clashed with other faculty; eventually the group that fought for the students prevailed.

I had and have Arab doctoral students; the problem was to prevent them from giving me 6×11 silk rug. They are very generous students.