Monday, June 15, 2015

The Double Standard of Racism In Education

By Professor Doom

     In earlier posts I highlighted a double standard in higher education, enforced by administration. Actually, I’ve highlighted a few, so guess I should clarify which one I’m talking about. Cheating is protected out of a sense of “fairness”, while religious prejudice against Christians, even if leading to unfair grading, is tolerated. I (and most faculty, I reckon) believe admin is completely wrong to protect cheating and only a little wrong to protect unfair religious grading, even though both rather encourage behavior that is inappropriate.

     It’s the double standard of “fairness” in administrative behavior that I find troubling: in a system with integrity, cheaters would be a discouraged (even though doing so would interfere with receiving those sweet, sweet, student loan checks), and coursework that is primarily just indoctrination into a belief system wouldn’t exist (even though, again, getting rid of such courses would interfere with receiving those sweet, sweet, student loan checks). I know there are those that claim the double standard has more to do with promoting indoctrination than anything else…but I can’t help but notice both inappropriate behaviors by administration support the receipt of those sweet, sweet, student loan checks.

     At the risk of playing Devil’s advocate overmuch, I want to point out another double standard in education, when it comes to race. First, I want the gentle reader to consider the case of a principal making “inappropriate” comments at a graduation:

     Well, obviously, the principal was fired for saying something. What horrible thing did she say? Luckily, it wasn’t so bad that CNN couldn’t reprint it, and it’s best if I’m to show a double standard, that I state what she said.

      So, first the setting. It’s graduation day at a private high school, one that offers independent study for students that, quite reasonably, suffer in the (ab)normal public school setting.

      At graduation, it’s typical for the valedictorian to give a speech, although there appears to have been an error in the program (strangely, not mentioned by CNN): students got their diplomas before the valedictorian’s speech was given. The valedictorian is the top graduating student, the best at the school, the student most able to give the best perspective on the education he (or she) has received. 

     I’ve been to my share of such graduations, and while almost every speech I’ve heard by educationists or administrators has been basically idiotic pablum about educational principles or cluelessly irrelevant blathering about plans for future growth (both ridiculous topics of no interest to graduating students or their families), the valedictorian’s speech is a different matter.

      I don’t blame educationists and administrators for not having a clue what to talk about at graduation, as their indoctrination in higher education has been so extensive they’ve lost touch with things humans care about. On the other hand, I’d say about half the time the valedictorian has managed to resist indoctrination enough to give a speech saying something relevant.

      No matter what, however, I sit and politely listen to whatever the person is trying to say. It’s a simple matter of respect in the case of valedictorians, and even when yet another administrator is boasting about another grandiose plan to get another building named after himself, I still respectfully listen, and would do so even if I weren’t threatened with termination for leaving…even when sometimes admin makes such threats pre-emptively (which, for what it’s worth, I find a little disrespectful…respect isn’t a two way street in higher education, but I digress).

      Anyway, at the graduation, the valedictorian, the best student, is speaking….and a number of graduates just got up and left while their peer and friend was talking. Incredible rudeness, extreme disrespect. Now I grant, this represents not just a failure in the students and the parents of the students that allowed such disrespect, but also a failure in the school to teach students how to behave respectfully.

      The principal was irate at the behavior, and moved to speak, to chastise those who were being so wildly disrespectful, and here’s the deeply inappropriate thing she said:
Gordeuk came under fire after being caught on video scolding attendees of Friday's ceremony who she said were disruptive, saying into a microphone, "You people are being so rude, to not listen to this speech. ... Look who's leaving ... all the black people."
       Now, this was inappropriate, because not all the black people were leaving; there were quite a few such people in the audience respectfully listening. It would have been, possibly, more appropriate to say all the leaving people were black, but this is a quibble.

      I have to point out something wrong about the CNN article, an article which implies there was much anger after the comment. I encourage the gentle reader to view the video provided by CNN (and edited as much as possible to support CNN’s version of events). Perhaps there was fury, but the video clearly shows at least one person laughing at the comment…inaccurate as the comment was, people tend to laugh at truths far more than lies, and the gentleman is clearly laughing and smiling. You don’t often find a single person laughing in the middle of an enraged crowd.

     Fury? Laughter? Whatever, the principal was fired for her comment, in short order. Fair enough, education clearly has no place for anything that even slightly smacks of racism, or so I’ve been told many times (although I’ve certainly seen my share of administratively approved racism). The principal quickly apologized, saying her emotions got the better of her, but no matter, she’s gone; the rest of the CNN piece does what it can to smear the principal, but since no comments are allowed, I’m hard pressed to take the smears (which she doesn’t get to respond to) at face value. It’s CNN, after all.

     Okeedoke, she’s fired, game over. So what happens in higher education when someone makes racist comments? Again, there seems to be fury:

Online fury over Boston University professor's tweets on race

     So, we have a professor making openly racist comments. This time around, there isn’t a child being mistreated, which might justifiably inflame the emotions of a teacher, it’s just cold statements from a professor.

     Let’s take a look at a couple of such tweets:

"why is white america so reluctant to identify white college males as a problem population?"

      Now, seriously, is this really any more accurate than what the principal at the high school said? A problem population? Males in general are a minority on campus throughout the country, a marked change from a generation ago; the general hostility that males receive, especially in the kangaroo campus court system, is probably a factor here. Boston University is not particularly good for males, only around 40% of the student base is male, not that CNN would bother to check such a thing. It would lead to uncomfortable questions and doesn’t support the CNN narrative, after all.

      Unlike the principal’s inaccurate comment, which could be made more accurate by a better arrangement of words (and realize the principle is speaking off the cuff), it’s difficult to “fix” the professor’s statement so that it is accurate (and realize the professor wrote this in a tweet, and had plenty of time to say things a bit more clearly). I mean, is it really true white males are the only/worst problem population? I’d be far more inclined to think the sportsball players have caused a few problems on campus; there’s a long history of college athletes and rape that really seems to be an outrageously ignored issue.

     Ok, anyone can make a mistake, let’s just forget about one tweet, no matter how bizarre, and consider another:

"every MLK week i commit myself to not spending a dime in white-owned businesses. and every year i find it nearly impossible."

     Uh, how is this not clearly using race, and only race, to make a personal decision? Don’t get me wrong, I honestly believe people should be allowed to make personal decisions whatever way they wish, but, this statement is the very definition of racism, the kind of racism that we’re told has no place in higher education. Imagine if a white person said something like “I do what I can to keep money out of black pockets,” to really put this in perspective.

    The professor, of course, apologizes, and makes basically the same apology the principal did: she cites emotion as the reason for her posts.

     Boston University will not, of course, fire the professor, and has made that very clear. I’ll leave the gentle reader to consider how this is not an example of a double standard, although, again, I support the professor’s right to speak out. People really need to know what’s going on in our universities, after all, and punishing faculty for speaking out cuts both ways, so it’s nice that admin respects free speech.

     Oh, wait, admin has no trouble firing faculty that speak out even remotely in the other direction. If there were creatures that literally fed on hypocrisy, such creatures, when found near administrative offices in higher education, would be extraordinarily fat.

     I also have to mention that CNN has a double standard here. Unlike with the principal, there’s no attempt to smear the professor. There are no quotes from former students saying bad things about the professor, there’s no look at the history of things the professor has said in the past (and I’d be willing to bet money she’s said similar things in the past)…why does the principal get such unfair treatment, but the professor gets a free pass?

      As a final slam against CNN, I want to mention the statistics posted at the end of the article:

As of fall 2014, Boston University's full-time faculty was 2.8% black, 3.6% Hispanic and 1% multiracial, Riley said. The domestic student body was 4.7% black, 9.3% Hispanic and 3.4% multiracial.

     Well, gee, a reader looking at these statistics would come to the conclusion that black, Hispanic, and multiracial (whatever the heck that is) faculty are not representative of the student body at Boston University. 

      Recall, CNN could have mentioned the wild gender disparity in the student base (40% male students, unlike the 50% male college age population), and could have used that to suggest bias against males in the education system.

      The statistics they quoted are grotesquely misleading. Allow me to express some righteous indignation at this misleading use of statistics, by shredding them:

      Do you see how the statistics quoted don’t mention the Chinese? Or the faculty from India? Well, gee, let’s look at some published stats. 12.7% of the students at this institution are Asian! Hey, those pro-white racists sure do let a lot of Asians into Boston University (that percent is way over the percent of Asians in the Boston population). Another 13.6% of the student base is the race of “non-resident alien,” whatever that is, and another 10.6% is “ethnicity unknown” (uh, does that mean non-resident alien classifies as a “known ethnicity?”). These three categories make up some 37% of the ethnicity distribution of the students, but only 15% of the ethnicity distribution of faculty: this means that every other minority is going to be underrepresented in the faculty, to make up for that over 20% difference in these three very vague categories (Incidentally, “Asia” represents such a huge part of the human population that we’re talking at least a dozen very distinct ethnicities clumped together, and over a hundred ethnicities if anyone bothered to ask the actual Asians).

       Why would CNN post statistics in such an obviously misleading way? Do they, too, have an agenda to advance, and is it the same agenda the education system seems to advance?

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