These include academic achievement, professional employment, social interactions, parental involvement, curriculum development, assessment issues and so on. However, the counter position is that of permeation which is at least if not more problematic.
Racism exists in American society. This fact may be an inconvenient truth for some, but for millions of Americans it is an ever-present, inescapable aspect of their reality. And while racism -- or its persistent threat -- characterizes the lived experiences of so many, there are still those who will dismiss civil discourse on the topic of race until tragedy strikes, thrusting these societal ills into the spotlight.
And once again that has happened -- this time in my beloved hometown, Charleston, S. The news coming out of Charleston has left me crestfallen. Saddened by the loss of lives -- people and families whose lives are intertwined with my own.
Saddened by the cruelty that was unleashed on the innocent.
And saddened by the pockets of our society unable to see the existence of racism until a hate crime surfaces. As president of an organization committed to increasing college access and success, reflecting on racism in the broader society has made me acutely aware of the manifestations of racism on college and university campuses.
While racial diversity in higher education has improved, instances of overt racism still exist and hurt students of color directly but also affect everyone on campus, white students included. Two of the individuals killed in the Charleston shooting were members of the higher education community.
Because of this racist act, a cloud of sadness and grief now hangs over both of these institutions. Other overt acts, such as the incidents at the University of Oklahoma and the University of Mississippialso elicit a collective disdain that transcends the color line.
Yet, despite general disapproval of such acts, rarely do they propel sustained collective action to address race and racism. In addition to these overt acts, insults and ignorance leave many minority students feeling unwelcome on their own campuses.
For example, Asian-American and Pacific Islander students, viewed as a monolithic group, constantly must confront the model minority myth. And far too few colleges are providing education and training on how to be an inclusive campus.
However, the more systemic instances of racism that permeate higher education are rarely acknowledged. Equity does prompt attention to a range of marginalized populations based on markers such as socioeconomic status, gender, etc. I also recognize that the term equity is more palatable; after all, initiating a conversation by talking about race is often a nonstarter.
To the contrary, our discomfort allows these wounds to deepen.
Editor’s note: This essay has been adapted from the testimony of Williamson M. Evers before the Rules & Reference Committee of the Ohio House of Representatives, August 19, Essay No. 2: Education and Wealth | May How Age, Education and Race Separate Thrivers from Strugglers in Today’s Economy By Ray Boshara, William R. Emmons and Bryan J. Noeth efforts to improve the financial health of American families and the nation as a whole. Data on research participants and populations frequently include race, ethnicity, and gender as categorical variables, with the assumption that these variables exert their effects through innate or genetically determined biologic mechanisms. There is a growing body of research that suggests, however, that these variables have strong social dimensions that influence health.
In higher education, when we do talk about race, we highlight growing college enrollments fueled by communities of color, which now represent 42 percent of the student body. But too often we fail to ask the hard questions about whether colleges are serving and educating students of color well.
Even well-intentioned people -- free of racist or malicious intent -- unconsciously reinforce these notions. Too often, politicians, policy makers and higher education leaders couch calls for an improved higher education system solely in economic terms.
Yes, for our economy to succeed, we will need to better educate our increasingly diverse society. And yes, a college education pays off in tangible economic benefits. However, by allowing this economic narrative to dominate, we have subjugated the crucial social justice and civil rights justifications for racial diversity and equity.
In doing so, we have once again minimized the historical injustices and everyday lived experiences of people of color in America. But we can do our part. And doing so begins with recognizing that our words and approach are reinforcing -- not remedying -- the problem.
Honest, race-centric conversations are hard, but nowhere near as hard as facing decades of oppression, discrimination and unequal access to educational opportunity.
College faculty and administrators should foster inclusive learning environments on their campuseswhere historical and current-day issues of race and racism can be discussed and interrogated civilly and provocatively. We should tackle these issues for the sake of our economy, but we must tackle them for the sake of our national values.
Ending racism is about civil rights. It is about social justice. Higher education leaders must embrace these racial realities to catalyze real change and hold true on the promise of equality and opportunity that we have made to all Americans.
Bio Michelle Asha Cooper is president of the Institute for Higher Education Policy IHEPan independent nonprofit organization that is dedicated to increasing access and success in postsecondary education around the world.The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education has a crowdsourced list of more than campus racial incidents dating back to , and FBI data shows that more than hate crimes took place on college and university campuses in Online Library of Liberty.
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