The case of Professor Gibney at MCTC in Minneapolis illustrates what happens to the teaching of mainstream research on racial oppression when colleges and universities frame their purpose with a business model:
“A white student may feel discomfort when it’s pointed out to him how he has benefited from structural racism, but to compare that discomfort to discrimination is a false equivalency. Hurt feelings hurt, but it is not oppression. But hurt feelings can be bad for business. And a lot of powerful people think colleges should act more like businesses. When they do, students act more like customers. And our likely customers might not be amicable to discussions about structural racism. If the customer is always right, then the majority share of customers is more right than the minority.”
Read more here.
A newly released report by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University provides further evidence that colleges and universities function to reproduce racial inequality, with the advantages going to whites and the disadvantages going to blacks and hispanics.
Here is a slide show illustrating the report’s main conclusions:
While this is not especially new or surprising, it is important evidence that runs counter to the common narrative of education being a universal democratizing and leveling public good.
One strategy for disrupting the ways colleges and universities reproduce racial inequality as documented in this report is to cultivate a greater degree of diversity literacy, both within the walls of academe and in our communities. Diversity literacy, if taken seriously within academia, would mean recognizing the ways higher ed works as an inequality engine and developing specific strategies for throwing wrenches into the gears of these engines. Diversity literacy is not simply learning to value difference (though it is that); it is also–and more importantly–about recognizing the ways that practices and policies result in unequal opportunities and outcomes across lines of difference.