In the wake of the profound despair and rage that continues to build this year, please let’s learn from each other. Here is a very useful list of ways to “maintain a predominately white institution of higher education.” (Heavy on the sarcasm, of course.)
I am impressed — and angered, saddened, frustrated — by how many of these I’ve seen at work in places I love. Check out #’s 5-8:
- Never ask the black and brown people who remain part of your institution what it’s actually like to be there.
- Never ask black or brown students what it’s actually like.
- Instead of number 4 or 5, whenever you do talk to a black or brown person at your institution smile really big (this shows you are one of the good ones). Do most of the talking. Be sure to return to rule number 1 (see above) while speaking to that person. Chuckle often.
- If you accidentally violate number 5, make sure you ask students this question in the most alienating environment possible; preferably when they are presenting as part of some committee meeting (about “diversity,” of course). Make sure they are number 4 or lower on the agenda for that meeting, and are given no more than 5 minutes to bear their souls to people they have never met before and have no good reason to believe (based on all evidence around them) are in their corner, will have their backs or care about their actual day-to-day experiences. (Never chalk their assessment of this reality up to their wisdom, well-developed critical thinking skills or just plain sanity; assume they just don’t appreciate what it takes to run an institution on a day-to-day basis. Change after all is slow. DECADES slow.)