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Martin Center column examines Black Lives Matter in higher education

Alexander Riley writes for the Martin Center about the impact of a dangerous political fad on American higher education.

When the University of Chicago English Department announced over the summer that, in response to the protests after the death of George Floyd, they would only admit graduate students willing to work in Black Studies (a proclamation that, after media attention brought criticism, they recently removed from their webpage), observers of the increasing dominance of extremist ideas on race and race relations in higher education were not surprised.

Indeed, as things go ever crazier inside American universities with respect to racial politics, it becomes more and more difficult for those of us on the inside, watching things deteriorate on a daily basis, to give those not here on the ground a concrete sense of the full extremity of what is happening.

From my vantage point as an academic sociologist, I have seen the disturbing process of what we might call the BlackLivesMattering of American higher education from quite close up, as my discipline is one of the main sites of the creation and propagation of the absurdly fantastic ideas responsible for this development.

For example, Patricia Hill Collins, a former president of the American Sociological Association, is one of the inventors of the notion of intersectionality. This is the reverse status hierarchy by which one is able to determine, from the combination of group categories that make up an individual’s identity—class, gender, race, sexual orientation, etc.—what one’s privilege/victimizer and oppression/victim score is, and thereby rank oneself against others in those same crude and collectivist terms.

A more-recent ASA president, Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, was an early proponent of “color-blind racism” as a way to maintain, in light of the fact that racist behavior has decreased considerably in the past half-century, the radical effort to account for all contemporary racial disparities by reference to the evil-doing of whites.

Mitch Kokai / Senior Political Analyst

Mitch Kokai is senior political analyst for the John Locke Foundation. He joined JLF in December 2005 as director of communications. That followed more than four years as chie...

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