According to the Tribune, during the discussion at Tuesday’s BOT meeting Phillip Beverly, president of the Faculty Senate, said, “I guess academic dishonesty is accepted by this Board of Trustees. That is the only way I can interpret this. It would never happen at another university.” I agree entirely with this quote. But more needs to be said. What is it telling us when someone is retained as provost after that person’s academic dishonesty has been openly exposed in meticulous detail? What is it telling us that this would not happen at another university? The action by the BOT to endorse the tenures of Angela Henderson and Wayne Watson is telling us that this is good enough for black people, who are the majority of our student body. When you offer inferior conditions to black people, when you endorse this, you are endorsing racism.
I would like to offer some history. The civil rights struggles of fifty and sixty years ago shifted toward a black power perspective in the last half of the 1960s that called for black control of the black community. The succession of black-led administrations at Chicago State is one manifestation of this movement as are black police, mayors (in largely black cities), police chiefs, and politicians. At that time the party I belong to—Progressive Labor Party—opposed these demands for black cops and school principals, arguing that the same policies of racist police brutality and racist treatment of black students could and would be practiced by black cops and bosses. It has taken nearly fifty years of political experience with racist black cops and racist black officials and administrators for many of us to see that the PLP was right all those years ago.
Yet our understanding is still incomplete. Our students are mistreated at every turn. Our classrooms are not maintained. The physical facilities (think about the concrete paths and staircases across campus) are deteriorated. Bathrooms are broken, but the university does not employ a plumber. The students are not allowed to select their own textbooks. The financial aid lines are unconscionably long, and students are often insulted or patronized. Students’ paperwork is frequently lost. There is no daycare, it having been eliminated when repair of Robinson University Center was begun many years ago, with no replacement being offered, a racist and sexist attack on our many students who are primarily responsible for the care of children. Any one or two of these things might happen at any school. But all have been part of the pattern of racist (and sexist) mistreatment of black students during my twenty-nine year tenure at Chicago State.
But then to say it is acceptable to have a provost who plagiarizes? This is to add a further racist insult to racist injury.
Why do I insist on calling it racism? When, over forty years ago, the capitalist ruling class acceded to black power demands for black bosses and cops, many in power realized that this shift would make it easier to control black people. Who would call the cop racist if the cop beating a black man is black? Who would call the jail guard racist if he or she is black? Who would call the college administrator racist if that administrator is black? If we don’t recognize the abuse of black people for what it is—RACISM—we will not fight it as vigorously as we would if these same actions were being committed by white people. We need to fight racism and put an end to it. So in order to unite students, faculty, and staff at Chicago State to fight against these abuses we need to call them racist and recognize them as such.
April 26th I along with many others will be in Brooklyn, NY for PLP’s May Day March. I encourage all students, faculty, and campus workers to join me on that day. Only a society that eliminates capitalism and its exploitation for profits—a communist society—can eliminate racism forever.