I really enjoyed reading the articles this week about Native Americans in higher education, especially in light of having talked to Bently Spang this week. One that I read in particular, “Indians Teaching About Indigenous” by James Fenelon, raised some interesting questions for me about minorities in our country and got me thinking about it the last few days. First, James’ difficult search to find a university where he could publish and teach about his theory of “culturicide” was pretty surprising. For me, that proved that our country’s universities truly do censor their work and image and are not necessarily willing to face difficult issues involving race or our history’s past faults. It seems like an unfair system, since teachers looking for jobs must put forth fresh, stimulating work, but also make sure it aligns with the university’s values. Thus, a lot of work that is controversial will most likely not be accepted. In a way it seems hypocritical to many of these universities who heavily promote diversity and their open, “accepting” environments.
Fenelon also discussed the processes he faced through being hired as a minority. He had to apply through three different perspectives- American Indian program hire, minority faculty search, and mainline hire. While the American Indian hire did not work for other reasons, the minority hire claimed that they wanted a “major” racial majority instead. The mainline job said they were worried about his fit. This system is shocking to me. I don’t understand why there needs to be different programs to hire people and why people cannot be hired based off of their own merit instead of race. I’m not sure that if this was the system that there would be fewer minority hires because they weren’t as qualified. And then, if a minority was hired, wouldn’t it be based off of wanting more diversity instead of qualifications? I’m not sure this is the case. I’m curious if whether by having minority hire programs it motivates minorities who already feel marginalized that they have a chance for employment up against the majority when they would otherwise lose hope? This kind of applies to affirmative action in colleges too. I’m not sure what to make of all of this and how to answer my own questions-it’s a touchy subject for many people to talk about too. It seems to only further racial separation in professional settings by setting minorities apart from the majority. I’m curious if anyone has strong opinions on this subject?