Op-eds

Brown faculty members: Supporting students of color in changing Brown

By
Friday, November 13, 2015

Updated Nov. 15, 2015 at 4:35 p.m.

As faculty members who teach in American studies, ethnic studies, Africana studies, Asian American studies, Latino studies and Native American and Indigenous studies, or who are concerned about the current interplay of race and power, we affirm our support for students of color on Brown’s campus.

It is terrible that this affirmation is needed. We view the current crisis as deeply rooted in the structures of white supremacy found in our national institutions including in our most cherished universities and colleges. Hierarchies of power and privilege are deeply rooted and resistant to change, as generations of activist Black, Asian, Latino and Native American students and their White allies can attest. The savage inequalities of race, class, gender and sex that have only grown sharper in our society manifest themselves everyday, even in the rarified atmosphere of College Hill, and play out in the daily lives of our students.

When these students read a racist rant in The Herald, they had the courage to say “enough.” Sadly, some inside and outside of Brown were then shocked that they dared to speak at all and rode swiftly to the defense of supposedly embattled free speech and imperiled academic freedom. Calling out racism, we submit, is not an impingement on “freedom of speech” or “academic freedom.” It is an act of self-defense. And frankly, it is a relatively tiny one, lost in the sea of small slights, casual dismissals and serious incidents that our students confront each day.

We applaud and are hopeful about the call of the president and provost to unite around a University agenda of social justice. Many of us have long been asking for the rigorous and careful interrogation of race, racism and privilege. So we gladly join them with renewed energy for the creation and protection of new spaces and bodies of knowledge devoted to a more just and equitable society. We are ready and eager to be a part of what promises to be a remarkable, comprehensive transformation of Brown.

 

Leticia Alvarado, assistant professor of American studies and ethnic studies

Sarah Besky, assistant professor of anthropology and international and public affairs

Stefano Bloch, presidential postdoctoral fellow in urban studies

Anthony Bogues, professor of Africana studies and director of the Center for the Study of Slavery and Justice

Lundy Braun, professor of Africana studies

Nicole Burrowes, presidential postdoctoral fellow in history

Jordan Camp, presidential postdoctoral fellow in the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Rebecca Carter, assistant professor of anthropology and urban studies

Wendy Hui Kyong Chun, professor of modern culture and media

Anani Dzidzienyo, associate professor of Africana studies

Jim Egan, professor of English

Kevin Escudero, presidential postdoctoral fellow in American studies

Paja Faudree, associate professor of anthropology

Lina Fruzetti, professor of anthropology

Matthew Guterl, professor of Africana studies, American studies and ethnic studies

Matthew Gutmann, professor of anthropology

Sherine Hamdy, associate professor of anthropology

Françoise Hamlin, associate professor of Africana studies and history

Beverly Haviland, associate professor of American studies

Elizabeth Hoover, asssistant professor of American studies and ethnic studies

Evelyn Hu-DeHart, professor of American studies, ethnic studies and history

Jose Itzigsohn, professor of sociology

Tamar Katz, associate professor of English and urban studies

William Keach, professor of English

Adrienne Keene, presidential postdoctoral fellow in anthropology and the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America

Michael Kennedy, professor of sociology and international and public affairs

Nancy Khalek, associate professor of religious studies

Daniel Kim, associate professor of American studies and English

Jennifer Lambe, assistant professor of history

Robert Lee, associate professor of American studies

Jessaca Leinaweaver, associate professor of anthropology

Lenore Manderson, visiting professor of environmental studies and anthropology

Yalidy Matos, presidential postdoctoral fellow in the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America and the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Sara Matthiesen, presidential postdoctoral fellow of American studies

Monica Muñoz Martinez, assistant professor of American studies and ethnic studies

Jim McGrath, postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage

Richard Meckel, professor of American studies

Brian Meeks, professor of Africana studies

Kym Moore, associate professor of theatre arts and performance studies

Rebecca Nedostup, associate professor of history

Marion Orr, professor of political science and urban studies

Keisha-Khan Perry, associate professor of Africana studies

Samuel Perry, associate professor of East Asian studies

Felipe Martínez-Pinzón, assistant professor of Hispanic studies

Robert Preucel, professor of anthropology and director of the Haffenreffer  Museum of Anthropology

Daniel Rodriguez, assistant professor of history

Ralph Rodriguez, associate professor of American studies, English and ethnic studies

Tricia Rose, professor of Africana studies and director of the Center for the Study of Race and Ethnicity in America

Philip Rosen, professor of modern culture and media

Rebecca Schneider, professor of theatre arts and performance studies

Robyn Schroeder, postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage

Robert Self, professor of history

Naoko Shibusawa, associate professor of American studies, ethnic studies and history

Elena Shih, assistant professor of American studies and ethnic studies

Bhrigupati Singh, assistant professor of anthropology

Prerna Singh, assistant professor of political science and international and public affairs

Kerry Smith, associate professor of history

Susan Smulyan, professor of American studies and director of the Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage

Sarah Thomas, assistant professor of Hispanic studies

Daniel Vaca, assistant professor of religious studies

Parker VanValkenburgh, assistant professor of anthropology

Lingzhen Wang, associate professor of East Asian studies

Debbie Weinstein, assistant professor of American studies

Esther Whitfield, associate professor of comparative literature and Hispanic studies

Andre Willis, assistant professor of religious studies

Patricia Ybarra, associate professor of theatre arts and performance studies

Vazira Zamindar, associate professor of history

Samuel Zipp, associate professor of American studies and urban studies

  • Bob

    “As faculty members who teach in American studies, ethnic studies, Africana studies, Asian American studies, Latino studies and Native American and Indigenous studies…”

    Well, at least you had the decency to call yourselves “faculty members” as opposed to “scholars”. Kudos.

    • ShadrachSmith

      What is the correct moral frame for judging political activity?

      Madison’s – If political factions increase their power by suppressing the individual rights of other citizens, they are doing evil. [Fed#10]

      Social Justice Warriors’ – If SJWs increase their power by suppressing the individual rights of other citizens, they are doing good. [Rawls’ Distributive principle]

      So, you want the red pill or the blue one? Because that decides everything else.

  • ShadrachSmith

    Social Justice Warriors greeting freedom of speech

  • Alumni ’08

    “Calling out racism, we submit, is not an impingement on “freedom of speech” or “academic freedom.””

    The authors of this letter are disingenuous.

    Everyone called out Maier for being ignorant and racist. Some writers took the next step and claimed to have a monopoly on truth. They demanded that dangerous speech should be suppressed, crowning themselves benevolent arbiters of separating wheat from chaff. The only dangerous speech I can see is that espoused in support of banning ideas. How dare they claim our intellects are not sharp enough to challenge bad ideas.

    What Maier wrote is so blindingly stupid the depths of her error are obvious to all. We can read her words, analyze them and object vociferously. This is what we did. The authors of this letter pretend otherwise. They’re lying and distorting facts. What these faculty members here have written is, simply put, horrifying.

    In the guise of community they’re laying aside some ideas as beyond debate. No one thinks there’s anything wrong with calling out racism. I’ll repeat that: No one thinks we should not vehemently oppose racism. What we disagree with is this anti-pluralistic claim to a monopoly on debate. In a civil society we carry the day through persuasion, entreaty, and reason. That’s what I’m trying to do right now. Suppose, reader, that you don’t agree with me, ask yourself ‘Why?’ What a wonderful thing, to think and to question. Challenge me on my ideas, show me where I’m wrong.

    There’s an arc through history of authoritarians paternalistically calling for the burning of books and heretics alongside them. In Prague, Wycliffe was disinterred and burned with his books. In an act of genocide, the Codices burned at Tenochtitlan. Dubliners was put to the torch in Dublin. The Nazis (you were waiting for it) burned so-called degenerate works in the streets. This January, blood ran through the streets of Paris over some comics. De minimis! Who decides? What makes you beyond taint? Robespierre was incorruptible until they lopped off his head.

    Suppression is incompatible with the free exchange of ideas. The only idea worth banning is the notion that ideas should be banned.

  • anajay

    “…sea of small slights, casual dismissals and serious incidents that our students confront each day.”

    And all that for the bargain rate of $65K a year! It’s a steal, y’all. Free speech be damned!

  • jwz

    I’d like to ask the esteemed faculty members what someone who spends $200,000 to obtain a degree in one of your fields does upon graduating. Other than going on to graduate school where they get to play Stepan Fetchit for you, that is.

  • Robsw

    Apparently fascism and anti-intellectualism are prerequisites for positions with Ivy League universities. Disgusting.

  • Doug

    If better evidence were needed that grievance studies don’t belong in institutions of higher learning, I’ve yet to see it.

  • jack_gott

    I do love it when idiots self-identify.
    Never hire anyone with a degree in “____Studies”.

  • Inajeep

    If you look at that list of titles of well paid teachers, you can see that America has just flushed $1+ Trillion of student loan “investment” down the toilet.

  • bryoneill11

    here are the names. BLACKLISTED this people and fire them already. This is a University not Kindergarten

  • MaierNotRacist

    “Calling out racism, we submit, is not an impingement on “freedom of speech” or “academic freedom.” It is an act of self-defense.”

    It’s an act of self-defense alright, but not against racism, but the threat against alternate theoretical frameworks to post-colonialism theory, and the slow march of scientific progress leaving social constructivism in the dust. Maier’s articles were not racist, and the intellectual laziness and outright ignorance of these faculty members to brand them as racist is appalling. The fact that they have largely gotten away with it is all the more saddening. Maier’s article on the Columbus exchange was historically accurate and a deeply humanist perspective on this episode in history from the usual post-colonialist theoretical lens. If these faculty members are unwilling to engage with Maier’s chosen historical framework from which to view the embattled Columbus Day naming controversy, and what’s more to brand it as racist, they have failed as educators, and have no right to ask that we engage with their theories on “hierarchies of power and privilege”.

    Maier’s article on animal domestication contained some scientific errors and on the whole, her writing was rather awkwardly structured, and could have used a better editor. However she grappled earnestly with the process of natural selection. The backlash that denounced her as racist and denied biology and evolution was an absolute disgrace. In particular, shame on the anthropologists signing off here; your discipline was once at the forefront of seeking to understand how biology and culture/environment inform each other. It’s telling that no biologists, geneticists, and neuroscientists have put their name to this letter. To Brown students, this letter signals that your humanities and social science departments are full of anti-science and intellectually corrupt members. The faculty who have signed their names here are doing a huge disservice to your education.

  • SB

    Good to know that blatant racism is alive and well in the BDH comments section.

    • Cherven

      rac·ism
      ˈrāˌsizəm/
      noun
      the belief that all members of each race possess characteristics or abilities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.
      prejudice, discrimination, or antagonism directed against someone of a different race based on the belief that one’s own race is superior.

  • Mas Klehn

    Thank you all sexually promiscuous tenured communists! Continue to keep your president dumb and happy, as her counterpart is in North Korea.

  • also

    “…faculty members who teach in American studies, ethnic studies, Africana studies, Asian American studies, Latino studies and Native American and Indigenous studies”…. HUH?
    Why don’t they just identify themselves as “people who could never survive in the real world, without tenure and coddled liberals to protect us…”
    It’s not like we couldn’t guess which departments are behind this.

  • Egyptsteve

    “savage” is a racist term, with origins in centuries of European oppression and demonization of indigenous peoples. You should be ashamed of yourselves for deploying this sort of hegemonic rhetoric.

  • roscoekarns

    Cozy existence for many of these profs who teach few life skills other than how bad whitey is. I’d love to see where all these grads land with their ethnic degrees outside of cottage industry academia. Nevertheless a minority with a degree from Brown should remain circumspect given they probably bullied teachers for a pass. Also check out what the degree is in. Hirer beware.