University of Alabama Faculty Members at Odds Over Need for Anti-Racism Seminars
TUSCALOOSA, Ala.The University of Alabama, a landmark site in the battle to desegregate schools, is viewed by some university leaders as being institutionally unfriendly to Black faculty and students. But others say anti-racism workshops, which were scheduled to help deal with the issue, wrongly impute racial prejudices to all Whites on campus. “These seminars presume that there are benighted souls among us, sick souls, who are in need of redemption,” says Dr. Max Hocutt, a philosophy professor who fought to end segregation in the 1960s. “I think the assumptions are insulting.” But Dr. Patricia Bauch, president of the Faculty Senate, says the voluntary seminars conducted by Crossroads Ministry are part of the university’s attempt to be a leader in ending pervasive racism. “Even though we don’t have Jim Crow laws and some individual prejudice has been eliminated and more opportunity is there, you look at the statistics about poverty and level of education and they haven’t changed since the civil rights movement,” Bauch says. The objections to the workshops were raised at a Faculty Senate meeting last month. The Tuscaloosa News reported on the sharply differing opinions. Crossroads Ministry is receiving $2,000 for an orientation session and $5,000 for each of three anti-racist faculty workshops. The money is from a Diversity Initiative Fund overseen by Provost Dr. Nancy Barrett. Crossroads Executive Director Joseph Barndt says all White people benefit from institutional racism whether they want to or not. He says his definition of racism is prejudice enforced by power. Since Blacks in America don’t have institutional power, he says, they cannot be labeled racist despite their prejudices.
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