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Unformatted text preview: asst, _;r.,' s}. Fania, it. (Eds) (1993) spa—ti" space & survival: African American women in (white) academe. New York: Routledge. '12 ' ,Place but not Importance: The Race for Inclusion in Academe Ruth Farmer Introduction A driving instructor once told me that a car will go wherever the driver is looking. Concentrate on the curb, and that is where the vehicle will go. For centuries, wotuen and men of color, as well as White women, ltave concentrated on the culture of White males as a central point of discourse, often covering its position in the werld. The knowl- edge that it has been a warrior culture, one of domination and destruc- tion for the most part, has not lessened the obsession to be included within it. Domination and destruction are reflected in educational systems which exclude from curricula contributions, theories, and cul- tures of those who are not White andior male. Scholarship on women and men of color, and White women, when included, may be warped in ways which reflect gender attd racial biases. in other words, a warrior mentality of invasion, pillage, and enslavement can be seen in curriculum design. Remedial measures, via curriculum integration or mainstreamingb projects, attempt to compensate for omissions and distortions. Syllabi are slightly modified, to add books by or about people of color (and White women, where necessary). Often these books are optional read- ing covered at the end of the semester if there is time, thus giving them place but not importance. This race for inclusion, a franric scramble to proffer people of color associate (peripheral) membership to the mainstream, that is, White male culture, is a palliative administered where more radical changes are necessary and indeed demanded hy concerned students-faculty and administrators. The race to include materials by people of color is a poor response to thepressing need for ..._ .-...-__W.—..._..‘....a. ._ .a-.—___........— .__.__.__. fluW—H—MW— s......4.-u.«-Wmfl.. ... a «a...» “ad—a...“ The Race for inclusion in Academe! 197 overall societal change. It does nor challenge the status quo at all, for it simply adds a few courses with the words race, ethnicity, diversity, multiculturalism, and so on, in their titles, or allows the teaching of the same old courses with different titles, or the addition of one book by a person of color. (I must acknowledge, however, that such relatively innocuous acrions have caused a great deal of confliCt in many quar- ters.) What is most important in terms of empowering people of color (which is purportedly one of the goals of inclusion), what traditionally White colleges and universities are finding extremely difficult to achieve, is enrolling students of color who would benefit from cultur- ally and racially inclusive courses, along with their White classmates; and employing professors of color to teach the courses, and administra- tors of color to help change the atmosphere in which learning takes place. The race for inclusion assumes that the educational mainstream is viable as it is. Adding courses from “Others” is not done to impmve the quality of education but to keep the political lid on. integration of the curriculum is opposed by those who believe it threatens educational excellence. “Excellence,” in their minds, is a euphemism for a prepon- derance of White values, perspectives, and ideals, that is, White su- premacy. The mainstream is based on the necrophilic philosophies of patriarchy and White supremacy, both of which require the worship of dead White men, the marginalization of scholarship that threatens the fantasy that White men are greater than anyone else, and the killing of creativity by forcing these ideals as nonnative. Racism, sexism, and other systems of discrimination have tainted what good there is in the mainstream. It is exclusion, therefore, which shapes it, not excellence. As educator johnnella Butler has written: The mainstream is very sick, and rightfully near death, We must be about ultimately replacing it through transformation. We have got to provide a curriculum that seeks to ref! the truth and that. in turn, releasns the full material and spiritual potential of human beings to leatn not static content, but to comprehend content in relation to the everyday world and in relation to the plural character of the world and of human life.I To many people (mostly, but not exclusively Whites], transformation of curricula is the brainchild of fanatics. Scholarship by and about people of color is viewed as a dangerous tainting of educational quality. When students, faculty, or scholars ask for a reformation of the canon NOTICE: THIS MATERIAL MAY BE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT LAV 196 (TITLE 17 U.S. CODE) 19B 1' Ruth Farmer as opposed to simply addition of texts, these requests are often viewed as charity work rather than enrichment of a lopsided, narrow system which has miseducated and undereducated people of all races for cen tics. will: everyday world is more than elite White males. Yet in the United States and many Wesrernized countries, the experiences and judgments of elite White males shape everybody else‘s daily realities. Expanding reading lists has not and will not change this. What has resulted is that faculty and adminisrrators become bogged down in discussions of which books reflect true hisrory 0r valuable scholarship, and essential discussions which could lead to structural changes within academe do not take place. This necessary dialogue is avoided under the guise that it is too political for the educational forum. Problems shaped by racism, sexism, class oppression, heterosexism, and other forms of domination will only be solved through analysis of power dynamics and a commit- ment to altering power bases. 1 pose this question: Is change something that is the goal of too few people with too little power? White males, in addition to being overwhelmingly represented in texts and on faculties, hold the majority of upper echelon administra- tive positions, that is, when those positions are not held by White females. 1 question whether diversity, inclusion, or even transformation can occur with such monolithic input. Inclusion of texts by and about people of color is vital to improving educational quality. HOwever, resources and insights from qualified people of color are not being utilized when formulating educational goals (including when deciding which texts and topics are to be taught) because there are so few people of color, particularly women of color, in decision-making positions. Despite curriculum integration projects, the contributions of people of color are still viewed as mere tributaries to the great oceans of White scholarship and organization. Absence Speaks Louder Than Words The number ofwomen of color in universities and colleges with high- ranking administrative positions is dismally low. in a comprehensive profile of college presidents, resulting from questionnaires to the chief executive officers of 2,822 regionally accredited higher education insti- tutions, the American Council on EduCation (ACE) found that the typical college president is White, male, married, and 53 years old.‘-—// "we..._.____._.___._..._.__.._.____.__... f .. The Race for Inclusion in Academe! 199 Seventy-five percent, or 2,105, responded to ACE's questionnaires. Ninety-three percent of the reSponding presidents were White males. The presidents who identified themselves as minorities included one hundred Blacks, thirty-seven “Hispanics,” eight Asians and three American lndians. Two hundred of the respondents or 9.5 percent were women.1 . Data collected by ACE's Office of Women in Higher Education {0WHE) indicate that 328 women were chief executive officers of colleges and universities in December, 1989, making up 11 percent of all presidents of approximately three thousand educational institutions accredited by six regional associations. Forty-three or one percent of chief executive officers are women of color: twenty African Americans; sixteen “Hispanics”, most of whom head colleges in I’uerto Rico; two Asian Americans; and five American Indians, heads of so—called trihal colleges.’ Interestingly, ACE‘s profile indicates that a higher proportion of women and minority presidents of educational institutions hold Ph.D.s than do White male presidents, confirming the contention that [Women and “minorities” must be better qualified than White men in order to hold comparable positions.‘ Though the possession of a doctorate, specifically a Ph.D., is sup— posed to lead to upward mobility within academe, its attainment offers little protection to African American women from the detrimental effects of racial/sexual biases on professional mobility. in his article, “Women of Color in Academic Administration: Trends, Progress, and Barriers," Reginald Wilson, senior scholar of ACE, comments on find— ings which show that in acadgmggadministration, “sex and race mea- surably affect the upward irLohilit of women of color independent of degree attained or field of study." Women of color do hold faculty and administrative positions; however, they are usually directors of remedial programshflfiflnmivt: aCtli‘m—Ofiflfl ethnic studies pro- grams, positions which are not considered mainstream administration and, consequently, rarely lead to deanships, vice-presidencies, or presi- dential positions no matter how talented the person happens to be.“ Wilson points out that both the church and the academy, the two institutions most identifimthical and democratic values, are the most resistant to democracy and diversity in their leadership} This is significant, in that White males within both institutions have for centuries fought with “outsiders,” that is, the rest of the world, over what constitutes worthy canon. This Exalted Canon is either religious or educational, but it is always White and male. Allowing people‘other than Whites 0r males to experience, share ot 200/ Ruth Farmer (reidefine the canon is still considered blasphemy. in the church and in the academy, the sanctity of the canon, the fear of “confusing the issues," even the fear of God have all been used to exclude people, by virtue of the perceived inferiority of their race or gender. Contrary to what we would like to believe, neither democracy nor diversity exists in most institutions within this country. Historically it is only when members of excluded groups chip away at the reasoning for their exclusion that canons and rules have been changed. Educa- tional institutions are especially resistant to inclusion by people of color within their hallowed walls, as Reginald Wilson notes below. Despite higher education institutions’ protestations that they eagerly seek minority students and staff, the history of American higher education reveals to the contrary that minorities and women were forced into the elite universities by the courts, by Congress, by presidential executive orders, and by citizen and student demonstra- tions, by pe0p1e of color in the cities and on the campuses. The universities were reluctantly forced to open their doors, and they resisted every step of the way, as they continue to resist up to today.” Educational canon and power structure reflect a belief in the suprem- acy of Whites and males and, for this reason, the majority of those who direct educational institutions (Whites and males) find absolutely nothing atniss with things as they are. Students and scholars, constantly reminded of that to which they must aspire, are forced to pay homage to the canon’s gatekeepers, representatives and surrogates, and to duplicate as closely as possible the postures and thought processes of the mainstream. When searches for additional staff or faculty are tnade, centuries-old stereotypes against “others” prevail. Search committees unconsciously and consciously seek to duplicate what was there before the vacancy or to create a reasonable proximity of themselves. 0n predominantly White campuses, those people will be Whites and arae/ often males. People of color may approximate the White male mod‘ but still remain side shows or entertaining exotica. There is strong, often violent, resistance to any attetnpts to include people of other races in policy and decision-making processes. In a world which is rapidly changing politically, the oppression of people of color in general and women of color in particttlar has remained intransigent. Despite the fact that the United States and the global community are comprised of many cultures and races, the inappropri- ate antl educationally bankrupt one-race university retnains an accept- Tbe Race for inclusion in Academe / 2(ll able model. Diversity in curriculum and staffing is a political issue because it has been made one. if educational excellence is truly a goal of academe, then the demand for diversity would not he needed, for diversity would already be present, because a broad, diverse view is tantamount to a good education, as johnnetta 3. Cole, President of Spelman College, points out below. An enormously destructive myth exists—that excellence in educa- tion is impossible if there is diversity. I am convinced that excellence in education is only possible if there is diversity among the students, faculty, and staff who make up an acadetnic community. . . . We must include all of us in the curriculum of our colleges and universi- ties or we threaten true excellence. Either we learn to deal with dtversrty or we will be “unified” in our destruction.” in his paper on affirmative action and Blacks in the university, Kellis Parker notes that hiring a few token Black faculty and administrators does not automatically lead to change since these tokens are nor in sufficient numbers nor have sufficient pOWer to effect change. The hiring of one [Black] is as bad as the hiring of none lit-cause neither position changes the symbol of Black exclusion. . . . Unless the one Black faculty member is hung from the flag pole so that everyone can see that there is a Black presence at the university, she will have a difficult time trying to he a symbol of the institution's paradigm shift. . . . Tokens new; ethos of all-white institutions. It is this ethos that white people have nurtured and developed for centuries that dominates the process of thought at Lll'thCl'EiliCS.w JHaving only Whites at the helm conveys the idea that only Whites can direct progress, can direct movement into the twenty-first century. Hiring one or two Blacks will not change this notion. Hiring one Black person probably signals change for a short time, but in time that signal comes to he a beacon of the institutioth acceptance of the idea that Blacks have no role to play in fashioning progress. Only when the hiring of Blacks . . . happens randomly and often enough is the message of a new idea of progress conveyed.” According to Parker, ideas are either subject to speech acts and other forms of expression, or they are subject to signs and symbols other than speech acts. 202 I Ruth Farmer [Rlacial integration has been giVenpreferential treatment in the ex- pressive realm while racial segregation has been given preferential treatment in the symbolic realm. Thus one finds institutions thathave uoneoroulyone Black faculty member,ahandfulofBlack administra- tors spread in insignificant ways throughout the university, and a few Black students. . . . [Tlheir failure to move beyond their token num-- hers broadcasts their symbolic preference for racial segregation.” Faculty and administrators are located somewhat differently within academic hierarchy; however, peopleofcolor,whether faculty or ad min- istrators, are commodified in ways that their White counterparts are not. This especially occurs when, through either internal or external pres- sures, educational institutions are forced to “diversify” their personnel. What often resulrs is the positioning offaculty and administrators so that. / they have visibility (thus improving the institution's public image) butl/ very little autonomy or power (and power remains c0ncentrated with the White race). Under these circumstances, people of color, like the Scholarship of people of color, are given place but nor importance. Students of color in predominantly white institutions cannot help but interpret the dearth of faculty and administrators of color as a sign that their alma mater is not a potential employer. University administrators who claim they cannOt find qualified “minority” candi~ dates to fill faculty and administrarive positions defame whole races and, by not hiring even their own graduates, are defaming their own liveryoue is placed at a disadvantage when an institution lacks faculty _ and administrators of color: Programs and curricula are developed in the vacuum of exclusively White thought. Students are robbed of the experience of having role models, support, and mentoring from people of diverse backgrounds. In addition, the few faculty and administrators of color who are on campus are required de facto and de fare to overex- tend themselves to accommodate the university's segregationist policies. institutions which have graduated these suppOsedly unqualified people. \/ Between a Rock and a Hard Place CENSORSHIP Are my words too much for you? Are they too dark, too sharp, too colored with experiences yott will never be expert in? The Race for Inclusion in Academef 203 Have 1 said too much? Am I too plain, putting out what I have to say as it comes to me, nor shading sex with fruit or hiding pain with flowers. Do I have too few sunrises, insufficient levels of illusion, or is it too obvious thar l have a point of view which is unexpected? Should I not talk about racism because it's old hat, poverty because it's passe? Should i go back to the _European roots that were planted in my educational garden, and pull out sonnets and other controlled modes of expression? Am I too wild, unstructured nonlinear mosaic indefinabie to be read by your erudite constituency? Am i too Black?” Many African American women find that academe is not conducive to professional development or job satisfaction except with constant struggle. Yolanda T. Moses, in her study Black Women in Academe.- issues and Strategies, examines the climate for African American women in predominantly White colleges and universities, using results from a questionnaire done by the Project on the Status and Education of Women (I’SEW) and a survey of literature concerning African Ameri- can women and higher education. Some of the typical problems experi- enced by African American women administrators and faculty include: (1) being constantly challenged because she is viewed as “other” and therefore inferior; (2) a lack of professional support systems; (3) overscrutinization by peers, superiors, and students; (4) an unstated requirement to work harder in order to gain recogni- tion and respect; \/ 204 I Ruth Farmer (5) assumptions that her job was acquired through affirmative ac— tion and, therefore, that she is unqualified for the position; (6) being tokenized, that is, seen as a symbol of her race rather than as an individual; and (7) being denied access to power structures normally associated with her position.” Racial and sexual biases dictate that the African American woman administrator be all thin s to all peggle. if she does not allow herself to be trams—is considered cold, unapproachable, antisocial, and not a team player. Often she is said to be incompetent ' she cannot or will not juggle all the responsibilities thrust upon her. She may even feel guilty that she cannot help all who need her. Yet if she does all that is required of her as a person of color, simply because institution refuses to hire other people of color—for example, integrating all-White committees and functions and acting as unoffici uncompensated and often unacknowledged counselor to students of colon-she will not be viable in her own job and may bring emotion stress upon herself. African American women adminisrrators are often in the ranks of the lower echelon and are expected tobe hands-on workers, not ideas people. Creativity is squeezed in between other demands, since lower- echelon administrators are rarely granted the time or space within work environments to develop ideas. These luxuries are afforded to highct~echelon executives. I - ‘ The African American woman is on diEELaLamLher acttv1ties are often scrutinized and questioned: What is she doing? is she doing what she is “suppose ” to be doing? Why is she here? is she qualified to be here? The bulk of this chapter was written during my period of employment at a traditionally White institution. 1 lacked the space and the time to fully conceptualize this article, except on W even though it directly relates to my field. I Up until November 199 i, l worked as an administrator in the Bar- nard Center for Research on Women (BCROW). My job title was ASsociate Director. 1 was office manager, conference coordinator, mai- rre n", personnel manager, computer consultant, resource collection manager, employee assistance officer, budget managerl and so on: As everyone except the director worked in an open space, spatial dehcuts placed the at everyone‘s beck and call: coworkers, colleagues, and anyone else who came into the office, whether t wantedflgfltfl- specific information or were looking for the bathroom. Thinking my The Race for inclusion in Academe! 205 own thoughts under those conditions was understandably difficult. Like many women, particularly African American women, my role was a domestic one. Ultimately, it was my responsibility to “take care of. . . . ” Any intellectualizing on my part was lagniappe. Being neither male not White, professor not student, nor the head of my department, ‘it was often assumed that i had no tole worth noting. Most visitors seemed to think that all the women working at BCROW were secretaries to the director. When people discovered l was the associate director, invariably their heretofore less than cordial attitude toward me dissolved with a murmured “ooohhh.” [t is difficult to talk about being Black in a Wflgespace. even though in the United States such is usually the case. The difficulty is [0 speak, to name, without appearing to whine, a near impossibility, since African American women are not expected to speak at all. It is particularly difficult to be heard, since despite the reality, the myth Still prevails that African Amdmom ‘ teaLperessiLmal strides. Enmeshed within this myth is the belief that even when African Ameri- can women are suffering, obstacles are faced stoically and handled with a prayer, and a smile. in orher weird I ' me. We African American women are reluctant to dispel this myth for it is one of the few posithtuletwtfotdedm. Racial and gender biases within the academe present constant chal- lenges. The racist manner in which administrators of color are treated ranges from blatant disdain and disregard to subtle forms of exclusion. The treatment is paternalizing and maternalizing, and always includes the assumption that Whites know best. Often the administrator of color is our given certain assignments, ostensibly so that she will not be “exploited " 0r “overworked.” Coinci- dentally those assignments are usually high-visibility ones which could bring her in contact with influential people. Job-related information may nor be relayed, yet the African American woman administrator is expected to function as though she is privy to this missing information. It is especially galling not to have access to information when one learns that White subordinates and students do, simply by virtue of their skin privilege. Though chaos usually reigns due to this racism, the offenders are so biased they can‘t see that their preiutlices are hindering the growth and effectiveness of the department orinstitutinn. In order to grow professionally, it may he necessary to vitlttnlly climb over the heads of superiors to get the attention of those who are in the position of granting promotions, thus risking dismissal by one‘s immediate supervisor. 206 / Ruth Farmer An African American woman is viewed through lenses colored by gender and racial biases; therefore ideas,_insrructions, and feedback from her may be received hostilely, in a patronizing manner, or some- titnes blatantly ignored, with impunity. Typical responses to her words may be immediate challenge, dumbfounded silence, and/or a continua- tioh of conversation as though she had not spoken at all. People may finish her sentences for her or restate her words as though she has spoken a foreign language. These silencing mechanisms are used to denigrate her, to let her know she does not belong, that she has no ideas worth hearing, much less using. if she is not a higher-echelon administrator, she can effectively he shut down (and up) simply by excluding her from the realm of informatitmidmmnakmtit instance, by not inviting her to meetings, even thou h the agenda is within her area of responsibility and experitse. in these meetings from which she has been excluded, credit can be taken for suggestions she has made, thus giving the impression that she is not contributing to the maintenance and growth of her department. Sometimes a superior may ask the administrator of color to stand in (at the last minute) at a meeting which the administrator had no idea was taking place, even though the meeting is directly within her realm of responsibility. In this instance, she goes to the meeting ill-prepared, and therefore appears incompetent. Another professional assault is not being introduced as an adminis- trator at meetings (while others are introduced by title) It is then assumed that she is there to take notes or do the xeroxing rather than to participate in the decision-making process. Yet, the African American administrator‘s name is utilizflefithpuhlic- ity in order to lend authenticity to claims of diversity or to render a stamp of approval which implies that the organization is nonracist. University catalogs may show pictures of her (and the two other Blacks on campus) and quote dubious sta_tist_i;s_a.bnnt_p_etcentages of Blacks on campus (a 50% increase in staff doesn’t tell the truth: the number went frotn 2 to 3). Typically, whenever there is a “Black” issue on campus, African Americans are brought forth. The likelihood of an African American's presence and input being actively sought is far greater if an event deals with issues of race or if a guest speaker is an African American. We are very popular during February, Black History Mouth. Of course, it is assumed that the African American woman's interests lie solely in the topics of racism, multiculturalism, and cultural diver- sity. And-she is expected to know all Black people of note. When a The Race for inclusion in Academe I 207 White person turns to you during a reception or meeting and asks, “Do you know So-and-So?" you can rest assured that Mr. or M5. 50- and-So is Black. Often African American women are only included in policy discus- sions as afterthoughts, after the agenda has been set and all the “impor- tant people" (Whites and possibly men of color} have been invited. Even though Asians, Blacks, Latinas, and Native Americans have dif- ferent agendas, needs, viewpoints, and experiences, it is believed that any woman of color will serve iusr as well to talk about the needs of the resr of the millions of women of color on the planet. Any African American woman who rebels against these assumptions in any fashion, either assertively or aggressively, is seen as .1 Sapphire. And since all women are expected to be nice, this can be a real career r. ' A lower-echelon administrator works under precarious economic conditions, lacking organized employment protection which unioniZed employees sometimes have. Due to the lack of leVerage, lower-echelon administrators beayfllitggwmmnes arise; they take on extra uties wwmmaWhen others are fired, or are let go themselves. When BCROW lost a key staff position, that of resource collection manager, the duties of that job fell to me by default: the director was protected by virtue of her ability to define her role within the department, and the clerical worker was protected because of her union status. My only recourse would have been to refuse to do anything pertaining to the collection; this Was not an option, since my responsibilities included supervision of staff who worked on the collection. The termination of my position as associate director at BCROW is typical of what happens to associate and assistant directors and other similar types of administrators. ln mid-October of 1991, the director ofBCROW was asked to resign. I will not speculate here on the reasons for this, for they are complicated issues, too numerous to articulate in this chapter. Suffice it to say that the restructuring of BCROW (as it was being called), excluded the input of BCROW staff members, and was touted as a budgetary decision. Rumors that my job as associate director would end circulated throughout the campus grapevine. HoweVer, for an entire week, the dean of faculty had yet to approach me about my status. I finally made an appointment to speak to him and discovered that the rumors were true; my position was to be eliminated. He assured me that he had not been ignoring me, but was merely waiting until he had settled with 208 l Ruth Farmer the director before he talked to me. This hierarchical approach to terminations is probahly common, but is no less unprofessional for that. The director and l were expected to leave BCROW by November I, which by the time the dean and I talked was less than two weeks away. A new director had been appointed weeks before (this was discovered at the time we found out we no longer had jobs) and was already formulating plans for the restructured BCROW. The significance of this synopsis is to point out how easily people of color are frozen out of the decision-making processes which affect their professional lives. Personally, I can think of any number of alternative ways the restructuring of BCROW could have been handled. However, as a lower-level administrator in a department which was itself consid— ered outside of the mainstream, my input was not sought, not heeded once I offered it unasked. Barnard College administrators made a decision which is very common throughout educational institutions: rather than institute an open search for a new director, they appointed a known quantity: a Barnard alumna who had worked as an assistant professor at the college, who had been turned down for tenure, and who had friendly ties with the president of the college, herselfa Barnard alutnna. Written and verbal requests to the dean and the president by faculty and staff that an open search be held fell on deaf ears, as did numerous letters of concern,lj and protest which inundated the dean's and the president’s offices, written by people who had used BCROW’s library, attended conferences and lectures there, or had other profes- sional connections to BCROW. We were all presented with a fail accomplt'. Once in office, the new (White) director proceeded to hire a recently graduated (White) Barnard alumna to fill a new position, that of administrative manager. Because of her union status, Barnard was required to give the assistant to the director (the clerical support of liCROW) a month’s notice before letting her go. it was this African American woman’s task to help the two White women learn the ropes of BCROW. She held a degree comparable to that of the recently hired administrative manager, and many years of relevant work experience over and above her three years as an employee of BCROW, Out of the mess and bad feelings which were created by the dismissal of the entire staff of BCROW, Batnard’s administration would have looked like “good guys” if they had at least offered the position of administrative manager to this woman, for it would have been a promotion for her. Instead, the decision was to replace three people, two of whom are Black, with two Whites, people who were not hired because they were The Race for Inclusion in Academe I 209 more qualified than the people already in-house, but because they were connected to the power structures of the college. Where one's professional career within academe relies upon having direct ties to upper-echelon administration, and the possibility of ac- quiring qualified candidates by holding a national search to fill vacanc- ies for upper-echelon positions are eschewed for the easy and comfort- able route of appointment, people of color, particularly women of color, will find it extremely difficult to move into the ranks of higher- level administration. The professional connections needed to become a candidate for these positions are often race, class and/0t gender specific. Qualified people are often not even sought after in the effort to maintain the status quo. Beyond Survival As a poet 1 read and watch, teach and learn through my poems, Speaking words that sometimes only l hear, either because the words are too private or because “the powers that be," that is publishers, don't want poems from people like me—unknown, and Black, writing about issues that are no longer fashionable, like racism and power. As an activist, I have worked with many groups trying to head off the violence-mongers who think progress means killing others or allowing people to waste away front lack of resources. Though there are many allies in this fight, I am often dismissed because 1 am un- known, and Black, talking about unfashionable issues like racism and l have learned with difficulty that multiculturalism, diversity, and other similarly vague and innocuous terms can be discussed in so—called rogressivc groups, but one must never speak seriously about racism. Promoting the need for antitacism work is considered divisive. To suggest that racism is everyone's problem causes even progressive, liberal Whites to feel guilty for having power, or angry because they are made aware that their guilt alone doesn't change things. Further, confusion results at even the suggestion that Whites are dehumanized when they dehumanize others through racist acts. It is more acceptable to Whites (and to many African Americans) for African Americans to take the role of victim, rather than activist. In addition, this country is currently operating uni the illusion that racism has diminished to 210 / Ruth Farmer the point where it no longer poses a serious problem for anyone. If people of color have not “made it” it is because they are not qualified or have not tried hard enough. In the academic community, much is written about racism, race dynamics, and racial attitudes, yet little is done about these same issues personally, departmenrally, or institutionally. Race is viewed abstractly. Many Whites do not even identify themSelves racially, possibly because having a race is A Bad Thing. (An exception to this are neo-nazis and other similar White-supremacist groups). Pseudo-obiecrive intellectualism in the academic community leads to disparagemcnt of discussions of racism as it affects individuals and institutiOns as being too personal or too political. However, writing about racism within the context of victim studies is considered academically sound. It would be beneficial for groups which have been historically harmed because of racism to band together and fight for structural changes which would allow people to achieve based on talent and merit. However, rather than building coalitions to eliminate or at least alleviate the professional stagnation which results from racial prejudice and elitism within academe, natural allies often fight among them- M) selves: The stratification and hierarchical arrangement of staff, stigy/ dents, and faculty is a serious impediment to political work which could improve the professional climate on campuses, and broaden the prerequisites for upward mobility. Gerda Lerner explores the dynamics of cooperation with hegemony by people who would be better off challenging it. While she is specifi- cally referring to patriarchy in the following quote, the same dynamics occur wherever hegemony exists and in whatever form it exists. {Clategories of “deviants” or “others” . . . are always defined as being "different" from the hegemonic group and assumed to be inferior. It is upon this assumption of the inferiority of presumed “deviant” groups that hierarchy is instituted and maintained. Hierarchy is institutionalized in the state and its laws, in military, economic, educational, and religious institutions, in ideology and the hegemonic cultural product created by the dominant elite. The system which has historically appeared in different forms . . . depends, for its continuance, on its ability to split the dominated majority . . . and to mystify the process by which this is done. The function of various forms of oppreSsion . . . is to accomplish this diyision by offering different groups of theoppressed various The Race for inclusion in Academe! 211 advantages over other groups and thus pit them one against the other." Divide and conquer has always worked. Because this is a patriarchal SOciety, men of color have access to power which women of color do not. Therefore, we find that high level African American women administrators in historically Black educational institutions are in short supply because sexism impedes their professional progress." While women in general do not fare very well in the academic community, White women are making remarkable progress compared to women of color. Their White skin privilege gives them access to power which women and men of color lack.” The advantage Whites have over darker—skinned pe0ple is maintained institutionally, such that a caste system based on skin color_ exists. Working—class White women, for example, have privileges which are denied to people of color, {male and female), even when people of color have higher educational and economic statuses, assets which are supposed to improve one's station in life. On predominantly White campuses, dark-skinned people are assumed to be outsiders. This is demonstrated clearly when trying to gain access to campus buildings and one‘s identification card is more closely examined than that of a White person's. For the African AmeriCan, despite intelligence, years ofexperience, or level, number, and types of degrees, in the United States the color of one's skin is one of the strongest factors determining how, w , and even if, one lives. To paraphrase Malcolm X, a Black Ph.D is still called a “nigger.” Can any African American woman thrive in a predominantly White institution, where we are either negated or studied but never experi— enced as people? We survive, but that is simply not enough. We must ask ourselves: Is there space for African American women on predomi- nantly White campuses in a predominantly White country where power defines space, where power is assumed to be White, where everyone assumes African American women have no power, sometimes even the women themselves? African American women are not doing very well professionally speaking, particularly when their status is compared to that of Whit men. Compared to White men, nobody is doing very well. Compared to White men, we are all becoming extinct, at leasr the juicy parts of us, those parts we want posterity to know about. Women and to color and White women are being portrayed in print and visual media as weak, feeble, or barbaric, when we are portrayed at all. According 212 I Ruth Farmer to prevailing myth, the White male will save the day, the planet, the universe, write intellecrually superior discourse on the experiences of everyone on the planet, and be home in time to spend quality titne with his children. The rest of us will remain his satellites. My daily reality is shaped by the images produced on those flickering weapons called televisions, and by those printed bombs which pass as information: newspapers, books, and other printed media. People take what they read and what they see on television as truth, especially when an expert speaks. (And there are numerous experts). When African American women are not invisible, we are victims or objects. This is no different from our positions in the academy. There is no neutral approach in communicating with us. As an African American woman, 1 am rarely allowed a conversation which is not filtered through my shade of skin: 1 must have said that because l’m a Black woman. 1 must have wrttte "IE—mt" have . . . that because I‘m a Black woman. One of my friends said that African American women in White institutions should get combat a . I wholeheartedly agree. African American women-are constantly under fire in these institutions. Even when people are allies, they have their sights trained to see if sufficient gratitude for their support is displayed. If it weren’t for a sense of honor, and a sense of self—both of which are difficult but vital to maintain—African American women would not be able to survive. Given the rarefied conditions under which an African American woman administrator works it is essential to have allies within and outside of the employment space. My friends and family have always been trelnendous means of support. They have been valuable resources of common sense and reality checks. During the times when I felt as though there was something wrong with me, speaking with them has given me strength and hope. Establishing professional connections is also an important means of support. While at Barnard, lwas a-member of the Columbia University Employees of Color, an organization formed to foster professional development and networks among faculty, administrators, staff, and students of color. The group grew out of concern over discriminatory hiring and work practices, as well as several racial incidents which occurred throughOut the university community. The organization meets regularly to determine the needs of people of color working within the university, and it sponsors workshops, conferences, and t The Race for Inclusion in Academe I 213 discussions relevant to the professional and personal lives of people of color. Because the group is relatively new, it is difficult to gauge its effectiveness. HOWever, with tenacity and direction, it could become an important force in this particular university community by building networks among people of color. Making Space Educational progress requires that policy decisions include input from those who feel they have a stake in the process and outcome. Otherwise, there is a constant struggle around legitimacy, quality, and mainstreaming, and little dialogue about change. Obstacles to changing power dynamics partially result from a beliefthat (a) only the “outside” group will benefit from change, and (b) these outsiders will take fro the “insiders.” This is a direct reflection of the individualistic attitude which prevails in capitalist societies. Competition is seen in every corner. if one person has something that must mean someone else is being deprived. Despite fears, Whites will benefit from the inclusion of people of color, structurally and educationally. In fact, Whites are benefiting now from the race for inclusion. There are many White professors and administrators who are capitalizing on curriculum inte- gration by designing and teaching courses and directing curriculum integration projects. They are fast becoming the experts in the field, which is easy to do when your views are the only ones allowed audience. People of color are thus being kept out of the “mainstream” of main— streaming. In addition, those against curriculum reform projects are garnering lots of media attention, speaking engagements, and grant money to proliferate their objections to tampering with the canon. To facilitate the incorporation of people of color into campus life, administtatincasuppomiiessenfial.._Ihere must be a belief that all will benefit when everyone’s input is valued. ln academe as in other businesses, competition, or the threat of it, dictates strategies. Colleges and universities may jump on the bandwagon of inclusion simply to obtain grants, or to appear equitable in order to obtain choice faculty. An institmion is not serious about supporting diversity in curricula and staffing if it is simply tokenizing people of color in order to receive foundation monies, or in order to appear antiracist without actually working toward that goal. Diversity requires a commitment to re- Wed including people of cilor in group re- search pro'ects hlisflig and “m r ' 1 'delgigs for up- _ 214 1’ Ruth Farmer ward mobility, and recognizing the value of committee work and mentoring when considering candidates for promotion. To help make a more diversified staff and faculty a reality, an institution could invest in targeted opportunities f0r students of color through sponsorship of undergraduate and graduate programs, with the understanding that graduates would become a part of the college community either as faculty or administrators. Over the years, many tnedical Students have had their loans “forgiven” by working in rural or inner-city areas for a prescribed lengrh of time. To encourage women and minorities to obtain doctorates and to increase their numbers on its faculty, the California State University sysrem has a similar program in which up to $30,000 of loan money is “forgiven” if a graduate will consent to work five years within the system.” Columbia University’s Minority Faculty Recruitment Program was created in 1989 to provide incentives for hiring Black, Latino, and Native American faculty. When a person ofcolor is hired via the program, two-thirds of rhat professor’s salary is paid in the first year and one-half is paid in the second year, giving the hiring departmenr temporary budget relief.m Programs like these could be instituted to hire people of color to fill jobs which might lead to higher-echelon administrative positions. To effect real change there must be a consistent and concerted effort to hire people based on qualifications. African American women pro- fessionals must be sought after outside of the usual old boy/old girl networks; for example, placing ads in publications which are geared toward professionals of color; or recruiting candidates from histori- cally Black colleges and universities, and colleges and universities in the -U.S.‘s numerous commonwealth islands. Search committees mu be made aware of their prejudices regarding African American women. Also, once hired, African Amcrican w0men must be given the support and respect needed to meet the demands of their jobs. Conclusion it has not been my intention to give a thorough analysis of the conditions of African American women administrators within aca- deme. Rather, l have attempted to offer food for further thought for researchers and administrators who are truly concerned about the status of African American women on predominantly White university campuses. There is very little recent literature specificallyconcerning the status of African American women administratcirs. When articles The Race for Inclusion in Academe} 215 are written they are usually shaped within the context of "women of color.” I believe the concerwwomen of color" are distinct, and shouldfimflamli£Wfl~niafialysis. Asian American women are discriminated against racially, foi'm'ple, and they are put in the dubiously favored positiOn of the “model minority.” This places extra burdens on them and often creates animos- ities in relationship to other women of color. Among women of color, on an intragroup and intergroup basis, there are hostilities resulting from the internalized racism we experience. These issues have been explored by Cherrie Moraga, Gloria Anzaldua, bell hooks, Audre Lorde, and Mitsuyi Yamada to name but a few.‘l University administratOrs must develop new models of administra— tors and determine whether their hiring standards are realistic, or simply arbitrary; whether their hiring and promotional practices garner qualified people, or simply people with whom they are comfortable.n in the case of BCROW, the refusal to hold an open search for the position of director, and the refusal {or lack of consideration) of pro. moting a qualified African American woman for the administrative manager position, is a vivid example of how administrators of tradi- tionally White institutions retain power firmly grasped within the White race. Employees ofcolor within acadcme should take .1. proactive role on campus, finding people of color to apply for positions and critiquing guidelines for promotions. Employees of color should also hold ongoing discussions on how divisions among people of color disempower and divide. This can best be accomplished through em- ployee groups. Because of the violently racist and sexist basis of this country and others like it, it is extremely difficult to gain upwardly mobile positions if one is not White or male. African American women are not whining for jobs which are not deServed or for which we are not qualified. Rather, we simply want the opportunity to achieve on merit and not be viewed through biased lenses. Without a reformation of power structures and serious antiracism work within academe, the race for inclusion is just another academic exercise. Notes 1. Johnnella Butler, "Minority and Women‘s Studies: Do We Want to Kill A Dream?" Woriiens' Studies international Forum 7:3 (Winter 1984): [36. 2. Comprehensive Data on College Presidents Released,” Higher Education ami‘ National Affairs 37:5. March 28, 1933: 1—5. Lu ll). ll. 12. 13. [4. l5. IE. 17" 18. I9. 20. 21. «was?» 216 l Ruth Farmer “Report on Women Presidents,“ Higber Education and National Affairs 37:5, March 23, 1938: [—5. “Typical College President: White, Male. and Ma tried.” On Campus With Women [3:4 (Spring, I989): ll. Reginald Wilson, “Women of Color in Academic Administration: Trends, Progress, and Barriers," Sex Roles 11:113. (1989]: 92. Reginald WilsonI “Women of Color in Academic Administration,” 9D-9l. ibr'd., 85. lbid., 33. johnnerta ColeI “The Road to Higher Education: Realizing the Dream," Higher Education and National Affairs 39”. January IS, 1990: 5. Keilis Parker, “Ideas, Affirmative Action and the [deal University." Nova Law journal 10 (I936): 763. lbitl.. 76H. lbitl. Ruth Farmer, August 1989. Yolanda T. Moses, "Black Women in Academe: issues and Strategies." Baltimore: Project on the Status of Education of WomenI Association of American Colleges, 1989. Moses' report is an excellent overview of campus life for Black women students, faculty and administrators at predominantly White and historically Black colleges and universities. In addition to pointing out problems' Moses offers strate- gies for improvement. Other works which discuss the conditions of women admitt- istrators on campus include Carter. et al. (1988), Howard-Vital (1989). Mercer (1990], Pearson. er al. (1939) and Sattdler (I980). ___..a-’ See Women's Review of Books january 1991.. Gerda Lerner, “Reconceptualizing Differences Among Women." journal of Wom- en's History 3:31 (Winter 1990): 111. See Moses, “Black Women in Academe," 17; and Wilson, “Women of Color in Academic Administration," 89. Moses and Wilson both acknowledge that sexism hinders the development of women of color at historically Black colleges and universities. Wilson comments on the {act that Black women fare better statistically in White colleges than in Black om: (that is, they hold more administrative posi- tions). See Peggy Macintosh. “White Privilege and Male Privilege: A Personal Account of Coming to See Correspondence Through Work in WOmen‘s Studies." Wellesley: Wellesley Center for Research on Women, 1988. Working Paper No. 139. “Growing Your Own: Women Faculty Members.” Orr Campus With Women l9:2 (Fall I939): 2. Kirsten Fetmaglich, “Kluge Money to be Used for Minority Faculty Fund," Colum- bia Spectator CX1X225 (October 3, 1990): l. 8. Cherrie Moraga and Gloria Anaaldual eds. This Bridge Called My Back (New York: Kitchen Table Press, I983). This anthology includes writing by radical 22. The Race for Inclusion in Academe I 217 women of color which touches on the harsh realities of racism and internaliaed oppression for African American women. Asian American women and Latinas. initiatives 52: 2 (1989) exploresI in Several articles. the hiring strategies within higher education, ways of creating equity on campus as well 15 the various stresses which allect the lives of women administrators. ...
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