Bits and Pieces

If you get a chance, be sure to read Christine A. Stanley’s excellent essay “Coloring the Academic Landscape: Faculty of Color Breaking the Silence in Predominately White Colleges and Universities” (American Educational Research Journal. 43:4 (Winter 2006): 701-736). It’s an impressive, wide-ranging report based on a more comprehensive authoethnographic qualitative research project. It’s affirming for those who fear they alone might be facing hostility as faculty of color and useful for those who want concrete suggestions about how to develop and maintain diversity at their home institutions.

So read the whole thing. But click (in your own way), if you resemble these remarks:

I wonder if I were a White male tenured faculty member, would I have been approached like this? (African American associate professor, health and kinesiology)

As do all institutions of higher education, the university I joined reflects the majority culture. Historically excluded from the academy, minority faculty have been admitted as guests within the majority culture’s house…expected to honor their hosts’ customs without question…keep out of certain rooms…and…always be on their best behavior.(American Indian associate professor, educational leadership and policy analysis).

Told to a candidate during an interview:

“While we’d like to diversify the department, we will make an appointment on merit, and will look for the best candidate.” (African [South African] assistant professor, psychology)

While walking with another colleague of color to a faculty meeting, a colleague said in jest, “This side of the hallway sure is looking darker lately.” My colleague and I exchange[d] glances with each other. This same colleague observe[d] the noticeable exchange and trie[d] to make light of the comment. “You ladies know I was just kidding, don’t you?” (Black associate professor, higher education administration)

I remember when doing my psychology internship at a major New York hospital that my natural impulse was to talk about my being from India, and to refer to myself as an Indian….Instead, I was met with a wall of silence as if I had broken an unspoken taboo of never calling attention to your own or other people’s difference” (Indian associate professor, psychology)

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2 Comments

Filed under Diversity Reporting, Politics, Resources, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Bits and Pieces

  1. I “click” very strongly with the last excerpt. My impulse is always, always to draw attention to the fact that I am Sri Lankan, whether I am meeting someone new or discussing an issue with a friend. I feel that where I am from speaks deeply to every opinion, thought, and idea that I have, which is one of the reasons I feel it’s important to draw attention to it. I want people to understand where I’m coming from, so to speak.

    What often happens is that the person I’m speaking to gets a glaze over their eyes as if they can’t comprehend why I would bring it up, or they can’t negotiate that I am from some strange country but I don’t have an “accent” (according to their ears) or they have already made an assumption about me (usually that I’m Hispanic) and the truth just confuses them. And what ALWAYS happens is that the information leaves their brain immediately. I’m often astounded by how often I tell someone over and over that I am Sri Lankan and they tell jokes in front of me about South Asians, Asians, foreign accents, etc, scanning me as “white” because of my lack of an accent and my fair skin. How I *appear* overrides who I *say* I am 99.9% of the time, and it never ceases to surprise me because of the sheer amount of time I spend explaining to people who and what I am.

    There’s a man in the group of people I have lunch with at work every day, and after many weeks of conversations where I explained here and there several times that I was born in Saudi Arabia and grew up in Sri Lanka, when it was relevant to whatever topic was at hand, he asked me: “So…did you have this TV show in….Europe? Or wherever?”

  2. Thanks for this post. I’ve recommend it to a few folk.

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