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The Cheapness of Institutional Claims of Anti-Racism


When McSweeney’s nails it, they really nail it. This bit titled “We Condemn All Institutional Racism But Our Own” pretty much sums up the actual response of higher education but really pretty much all other power structures (including everyday whites often times) to racism:

Students, Faculty, Staff, and Alumni,

We feel it to be our solemn duty to make a statement about recent events before all our peer institutions beat us to the punch. In this time of division, we flailed through the Provost’s book of inspirational, unifying quotes and landed on the aphorism, “Change begins at home.” As we reflect on our own campus home, we definitively state our intent to stand against hate, prejudice, and other harmful nouns, as well as to fight racism where it lives: elsewhere.

Black people have been a vital part of this institution since its very beginnings when they built it for us on stolen land. While we regret that we did not admit Black people for centuries after it was established, we are proud to boast that seven percent of our current undergraduate student body is Black, and we can’t stop reminding historically excluded students how lucky they are to be here.

Our surrounding community is taking notice of how far we’ve come. And it’s no wonder. Students and faculty take a strong interest in Black members of our campus family — asking them questions like “Do you go here,” “Do you play football,” and “Does Admissions still use affirmative action?” Our attentive staff, from campus police to brochure photographers, is keen to follow their every move. Most impressively, we’re so adept at preparing our non-white students for real-world success that they keep leaving early.

We also celebrate our accomplished Black faculty member, who always manages to produce an astonishing amount of scholarship on such a low budget, while supporting and mentoring all 89 Black students. Dr. Keysha Boyd published her second book and six major articles this year, but is mysteriously stalled at the assistant rank. You can also find an infographic version of her essay “Cite Her Work: Recognizing Black Women’s Intellectual Labor” circulating without attribution on Instagram. Congrats on being the banner image for our “Academic Programs” homepage for the past six semesters, Dr. Boyd!

The whole thing is beautiful.

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