Maybe it's the word "black" that they find troubling.
Last year, a couple of administrators at our university advised us to make sure we weren't doing projects just for black folks. It was odd advice since our projects always include groups of participants from different racial and ethnic backgrounds. Still, there was this fear, among some, that black studies might not be open to "white people."
I initially thought I knew why black studies and black people were treated in these problematic ways here. But now, I'm less sure. To what extent is racial insensitivity at a university based on dislike of black people; to what extent does it have to do with a discomfort or unfamiliarity with us; and to what extent is that insensitivity based on fears of conservatives responses?
By "fears of conservative responses," I am referring to those anxieties among apparent well-meaning liberals where they anticipate that there might be charges that black folks are receiving favoritism. To ward off such charges, they end up policing black people and black studies in advance of the expected charges.
We're still gathering our thoughts on these topics. So for now, we'll watch and wait.
I'd be curious to know if the Women's Studies department was asked if their activities were open enough (or inclusive enough) for men.
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