My RESPONSE TO @AnisaRawhani “Queen’s: Stop Putting Diversity On The Back Burner”
I am a Queen’s Student and just found myself reading your letter the other day. I could not help but notice something about it: you have written a nice piece of irony. I found it to be ironic because it seems like you want to force diversity by condoning racism. In the following paragraphs I would like to break down as to why I thought this to be true so I hope you are fine with some literary criticism. You wrote and sent a letter to Queen’s stating how you think there is a lack of diversity on campus amongst professors. In the letter you make the conclusion that there is “white privilege” and even “white supremacy” present in the classrooms at Queen’s. I will get to these two statements you mentioned later on in this response, but let us take one issue at a time here because there is a lot to cover.
First of all I would like to take notice to something you say in your letter mainly at the beginning:
“I have spent the past five years as an undergraduate in the English Department. During that time I’ve been in the presence of some truly intelligent, beautiful and inspirational professors. But as the fall term of my final undergraduate year at Queen’s comes to a close, I can’t help but notice something, or rather someone, is missing.”
Now, I can understand that you have noticed this at a university that is prominently white in general, but I do not believe the administration is purposely only allowing white students to come here. If that was the case you would see strictly only white students here.
Anisa. I do not think I see race as you see it. I have had friends of all cultures, colours, and creeds. I grew up in a world where people did not see colour, but we saw character. We saw each other as equals because everyone is born with equal rights in this country. These rights and liberties are protected by laws and values that we hold so dearly. It astounds me that people still see race as you see it. You see it as a device that should be used for relating students to their educators. At Least this is what I take from your letter . Should it really matter what colour our educators are? Was it not Martin Luther King Jr. that said “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” I don’t judge people based on their skin colour, I judge people based on their character. Do you?
You point out two issues you had for a course you took:
“But there were two glaring issues with ENGL 471.
1. Dr. Sully was forced to cram 200 hundred years of rich and devastating history into one semester, while I’ve taken full-year courses that focus solely on one decade of white literature.
There is simply less material in 200 years of African American Literature than there is in 200 years for white literature. It is a fact that more African Americans than Caucasians were illiterate which would undeniably lead to less writers in this time period. This was due to the chains that were put on them both physically and mentally as slaves.
2. Dr. Sully is a white man.
I am truly curious as to why Dr. Sully being a white man makes him less credible to teach a course about African American Literature and culture. Teaching is about knowledge yet you are making it about race which sounds very ignorant in my opinion.
I see that you do retract this from you letter in your blog:
(Note: Immediately after writing this letter, I realized I misspoke when I said it was a problem that a white man was teaching this course.)
Although if you had in fact “misspoke immediately after writing this letter” then why did you keep this in the letter? If you did not realise until after you sent it, then you still thought it to be a problem in the first place.
Let’s move onto the next part of your letter where I really am amazed with your lack of proof you have for these two erroneous claims. Two dogmas you claim to see at Queens are:
- White privilege
- White Supremacy.
You say white supremacy is here on campus. White supremacy would mean the hiring process would only give white people employment . You say
“A quick glance over the English Department’s “Faculty Listing” page shows there are about 75 English program members. Less than five of them are not white.”
This already proves there is not white supremacy in the department. If there were indeed white supremacy then we would not have 5% of non-white professors in just the English department alone (this is excluding all of the other departments). I support hiring based on credibility, not based on race. If you want to actively force diversity on campus then you are saying that other races need a leg up in order to be hired. So does that mean you are saying they are somehow inferior and need help to get hired instead of being hired on purely credibility? That actually is racism.
This reminds me of something Justin Trudeau (our prime minister) answered when asked why his cabinet was completely equal in diversity. “Because it’s 2016” was his answer. Yes it is indeed the current year, so why do people need to be hired based on race?
If white supremacy existed at Queen’s then we would see 100% white people at Queen’s (this would be professors, students, staff) which is why I find it hard to believe Queen’s is hiring/admitting based on race. As for it being present in the classroom? There is no way white students think of themselves as better or superior as other races. That is so unrepresented in society today that you are actually offering anti-white racism as an option without batting an eye. You want to deny perfectly great professors a position in order to cater to forced diversity.
“White privilege” is another argument you have made in your letter. I personally don’t believe white privilege is something that exists because quite frankly there is no definite definition as to what it is so I am just going to respond to your definition:
“White privilege is when white history is part of the core curriculum and everything else is taught as an elective. White privilege is when “Frankenstein” is on my reading list for three different courses, but black, brown and everything-else literature are only taught when professors have support to branch out.”
As a matter of fact English is a language created by people from northern Europe. The Anglo-Saxons, the Jutes, the Danes, and the French. “Eng-land” is the place where “Eng-lish” originated. In the west we have created a world where diversity and tolerance of other cultures is what we can pride ourselves in, but to simply forget about hundreds of years of English history because “white history is part of the core curriculum” is what is called anti-white racism. It is true that in our modern world (since the time of colonialism) we see other races and cultures being introduced into the English literature canon, but that has only happened very recently and still is outweighed by the hundreds of years of Caucasian English literature. You can’t deny that a majority of English literature are from Caucasian speakers. Just like how a majority of Japanese literature taught would be written by writers that are Asian. This is true in every part of the world. Just because you see more Caucasian writers in English literature core classes does not mean the curriculum is full of “white privilege”.
You also mention the “Henry Report” which was a report done ten years ago so it is an outdated report that does not describe the world we live in today.
“Students of colour shouldn’t be able to go through their entire undergraduate careers without seeing their own face or hearing their own history. Equally important, white students need to interact with other races in an academic setting so that they are equipped to bring about equity in humanity.”
As for the curriculum I am actually surprised to see how high the percentage of courses at Queens that offer “non-white literature” based on the ratio of white to non white writers of English literature in history.(a quick look at the English Department Queen’s website is where you can find a list of the courses and I will attach a link to the list of courses/ their descriptions to the bottom of this letter)
I also see this part of your letter to be very ignorant of people at Queen’s. From what you have written I am taking that you think white students are purposely going out of their way not to interact with people of colour. In my classes I don’t see how it is appropriate for a student of any race to interact with others based on race. It sounds like what you want people to do is to see race as something that defines someone’s personality. We live in the western world where everyone has the same laws and rights not based upon race, but based upon the fact they are human.
You also say this in your article:
“In response, many readers may argue that they’ve had incredible white professors and that true equality comes from a meritocracy. However when we look at cases like the English Department — where only about five per cent of faculty are not white — we can clearly see that whatever hiring system is in the place is not working. To suggest that it is, is to suggest that racialized professors aren’t getting positions because they aren’t qualified enough to teach in the first place.”
Actually we can clearly see that whatever hiring system in place is working. If I were “to suggest that racialized professors aren’t getting positions because they aren’t qualified enough to teach in the first place.” Then you would not see the 5% of nonwhite professors in the English department alone. You just contradicted yourself. You also would not see all of the “ truly intelligent, beautiful and inspirational professors” as you put it.
I feel that the points you have made in your letter and article are ignorant and just plain discriminatory. Hiring based on race is a barbaric and an outdated law that had went on for far too long in our continent. You obviously do not see everyone as equals in the human race, instead you look through a lens and see race as something that should be influencing decisions.
My Response to Queen’s Response:
Queen’s should not feel bullied by social justice warriors that want to make the education system a sheltered and fake representation of the real world. The real world is not equally divided by race in any part of the world. Queen’s should actively participate in a value that western culture had built itself on: People should be judged based on what they do, not what they look like. Queen’s shouldn’t teach their students that you are entitled to a certain job because of your race. The DEAP tool seems is an example of Queen’s being being bullied by social justice warriors such as Anisa. According to the Queen’s website the DEAP tool is used to:
- Understand the demographic profile of their staff, faculty, and students
- Assess how inclusive the Unit is
- Provide an opportunity to reflect on areas in need of improvement using the Diversity Score Card assessment template
- Support requests for resources or modifications further commitments to equity and diversity
- Develop an action plan and timeline to enhance inclusion
My Last response to Anisa’s Blog:
Finally, you go on to talk about all of the anecdotal evidence that you’re friends of colour have apparently experienced at Queen’s. If they really had trouble with actual professors at Queen’s then why wouldn’t they say something to the school? I don’t think a professor really called out an Indian student and made fun of her mother (the way you describe it).
As for your friend being cat called by a couple of guys in a car:
1. How do you know they were Queen’s students?
2. A few assholes has nothing to do with the core curriculum, white privilege, white supremacy, or anything you actually brought up in your letter.
3. I still am questioning as to if these events really took place at Queen’s because they sound made up to be perfectly honest as I have never seen anything like this taken place in the classroom.
I hope you find what you’re looking for in life Anisa, you seem like a nice woman and your heart is in the right place. I just hope you realise that you got to start thinking that the colour of our skin does not define who we are. Start judging people based on their character, and stop judging people based on their colour. White privilege does not exist. White people are not privileged for the colour of their skin, nor is any race for that matter. We live in a world of individuals where hard work; not the race that you’re born with- is what pays off.
Queen’s courses offered in the English Department: