The whiteness of thinking of higher education as a business

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.

Identifying racial oppression in schools

A new article by Brian Willoughby in the Fall 2013 issue of Teaching Tolerance provides suggestions for examining the ways that your school maintains the system of racial oppression.

Drawing on the work of Mica Pollock, he suggests asking the following questions:

  • Am I seeing, understanding and addressing the ways the world treats me and my students as members of racial groups?
  • Am I seeing, understanding and addressing communities and individuals in their full complexity?
  • Am I seeing, understanding and addressing the ways opportunities to learn or thrive are unequally distributed to racial groups?
  • What actions offer necessary opportunities to students in such a world?

It’s important, he reminds us, not to jump to conclusions without sufficient evidence.  So he urges taking the following actions when feelings or accusations of discrimination arise:

  • Look at the issue from all angles.
  • Gather as much data as you can.
  • Sit down and have meaningful conversations without being accusatory.

Read the rest of the article here.