and the Professoriate
and vision in Emory's intellectual community
was concerned that as in many other areas of politics on this campus,
things were going to get unnecessarily polarized.
Doner, Associate Professor of Political Science
don't want to say no, it's not a hostile environment or yes, it
absolutely is, but we don't come to Emory thinking we're coming
to Candy Land.
Stewart, Assistant Professor of Religion
tenure-track assistant professors hired between 1987 and 1996
and Managerial Positions
held by African Americans in 2001-02
and Managerial Positions
held by Whites in 2001-02
Freedom, Privilege, and Responsibility
the university ready to chart a new course beyond the status quo?
Eugene K. Emory, Professor of Psychology
Begins at Home
at Emory and Oxford
Mark Auslander, Assistant Professor of Anthropology, Oxford
2001/January 2002 issue
Reflections on Contemporary Race Theory
Mark Sanders, Professor of English and African American Studies
2000/January 2001 issue
Exchange: Would you describe Emory as a hostile racial
Dianne Stewart: I don’t want to say no, it’s
not a hostile environment or yes, it absolutely is, but we don’t
come to Emory thinking we’re coming to Candy Land. Just because
some of us are saying there is institutional racism doesn’t
mean we didn’t think it before. It’s just that now we’re
being asked to talk about it. It doesn’t mean we’re
sitting around angry and frustrated. It’s a part of life.
Racism is a part of the American legacy. I do think we need to look
at class in addition to race when we think about how hostile it
might be for some. We have a lot of African American laborers here
whom I believe in many cases experience Emory as a hostile environment,
based on some of the stories I’ve heard. When we do a class
analysis of this campus, many of them would be in the lower socioeconomic
strata. It wouldn’t surprise me that they would feel more
isolation, injury, or insult from day to day. There’s a certain
kind of protection and privilege that comes with the title of professor.
If you talk to black support staff (administrative, custodial, security,
culinary, etc.) and they decide to be honest, it would be interesting
to see their picture of Emory. And keep in mind for everything that
is reported, how much goes unreported. A lot of it has to do with
the fact that people decide it’s not worth it. I can’t
spend my time and effort fighting this. I won’t be able to
manage my life if I have to do this.
And certainly people have talked for years about how racism functions
in terms of tenure and promotion in the academy. I remember when
I was offered this job, a black female faculty member at another
institution said to me, “You know, Emory doesn’t have
a good track record with tenuring black women.” I didn’t
know what to say to that. And my first year here, two black faculty
did not get tenure. Some of the junior black faculty were feeling
unnerved about it. We didn’t jump to any conclusions, but
it was not a pretty picture. Some of the senior professors in African
American studies really talked with us and tried to help us understand
some of the dynamics at work. And it might not be that anyone’s
out to get anybody, but it might have to do with an absence of mentorship
and the added responsibilities heaped upon African American professors
predominantly white institutions.
AE: Is that absence a matter of racism?
DS: Racism is prejudice plus power and privilege.
The ideology is that people believe that they merit certain opportunities,
when in reality systems and structures have been set in place to
give particular people certain advantages. One group is
guaranteed a head start, such as mentoring and collegial support,
while other groups have no such guarantee. It becomes very complex.
I don’t know how an institution can exist in America and not
carry some of that legacy with it. It would have to work very hard
to overcome institutional racism, but I think institutions can move
in that direction. It’s a deliberate choice that has to be
acted out accordingly through specific measures and directives.
I really do believe it requires compelling certain kinds of activities
or programs. I know some people don’t believe that, but I’m
a beneficiary of compelled transformation. For some people, though,
it would feel very much like an infringement upon their rights and
AE: What would you say to a colleague who is
confused about what is and isn’t racism?
DS: I think a lot of people get stuck on intentional
racism versus unintentional racism. And it clouds the issue. You
can make a personal choice to first of all know what it is—read
about racism. Know how it’s been analyzed by sociologists,
legal theorists, philosophers, etc. Understand the difference between
an active racist and a person who participates in a broader system
of racial injustice. That’s the first level, which apparently
a lot of faculty here have not even broached. We would have a totally
different dialogue if people would just do that basic work. The
professor who asks why it is acceptable for black rap
artists to use racial epithets (the “n” word) needs
Racism 101: every oppressed group has made the argument for appropriating
derogatory expressions and using them in subversive ways—undermining
the power of the oppressor to define who the oppressed is. Any person
who really understands racism wouldn’t even ask that question.