White Supremacy at the University Level
Last week, our blog discussed why the arts are as equally essential as a school’s main curriculum. We know that the arts foster students' abilities to grasp math, writing, and reading, and that they also cultivate vital skills that the school syllabus does not touch. This week, we begin to examine how the educational system in America continues to reinforce White Supremacy at the university level. This blog will discuss the topic over the course of the next few weeks and has one overall theme: the work is never done.
The question I ask today is how are we inadequately defying, disrupting, diminishing, and defeating White Supremacy in higher education? During the freshman orientation that kicked off my own university experience, I was required to complete diversity training. Sitting in the audience of our school’s largest auditorium, I listened and watched speakers and sketches tackle the importance of diversity on our campus. Once the hour-long session ended, my diversity training was complete. At the time, I might have thought that the amount of time spent on this matter was sufficient. After all, I had not yet developed a personal reason for questioning that my high school history classes had not taught me everything I needed to know about American race relations. In reality, they had not even partially prepared me to think about or discuss any contemporary race issues, and in retrospect, it seems my history classes provided me with a woefully incomplete understanding of U.S History. Thankfully, the Black Lives Matter Movement has awakened many of us white folk to the reality of our privilege, but it’s regrettable that it had to take the loss of so many black lives to shine a spotlight on the police brutality against BIMPOC in this country. We can no longer remain absent from social justice advocacy for BIMPOC.
Fighting centuries of White Supremacy is not something we can simply tick off of the to-do list. It is woven deeply into the cultural fabric of our country, and we must continue on the journey toward becoming a country that recognizes its dark flaws and takes action against them. We need courses about diversity and inclusion as part of the required curriculum, so that we are learning the reality that is our multicultural world. Every university should push to have more diverse faculties, staffs, and student bodies. On top of that, white professors need training themselves, so that if they find themselves the leader of these conversations, they can do so thoughtfully and from a place of truth, understanding, and healing.
The question begs to be asked repeatedly: How will we continue the hard work of attaining the same equity and justice that white people take for granted? I am not here to say that the solution is painless and uncomplicated, but it is a journey of endless worth. If you are a prospective college student reading this, I would like to learn how the universities that interest you are advancing their progress toward ending White Supremacy? If you are a white teacher or professor, I wonder how you are learning to lead these imperative conversations?