White Academia: Do Better.
Higher education has a problem. It’s called White supremacy.
Over the past couple of weeks, our nation has been confronted with ugly truths and hard history revealing how systemic racism rears its head in almost every space. Since the COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down our typical lifestyles, people seem to be listening.
This moment feels very different from other situations when we had to address human rights in the context of race relations in the United States. With that comes a host of emotions that White people have rarely had to deal with because of their racial privilege, and this includes White people working in academia.
Like many Black faculty, and Black people in general, I have received messages and texts from White colleagues apologizing, expressing their guilt and remorse, and asking what they can do to support their Black colleagues and friends.
Quite honestly, this at times is very overwhelming and seems like White people are projecting their guilt onto Black people.
White people are struggling with what to say or do. It is understandable that White people feel overwhelmed, guilty, sad, and frustrated.
Yet this moment we’re witnessing across the country is not about White feelings. It is about the constant trauma, historic pain, and dehumanization that Black people experience, and frankly, have been experiencing long before the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, and Ahmaud Arbery.
Your Black colleagues and students are not okay.
If you are a White academic or higher education professional, there are some tangible actions you can take to support Black faculty, staff, and students.
I’ve listed 10 below as a starting point:
- Stop asking Black people what White people should do at this moment and just admit you don’t know what to do because you’ve never had to think about your White privilege or anti-racism.