As the graduation season is in full swing, we’re reminded that nearly half of black college students were never taught by a professor of their own race.
According to a survey, from YourBlackWorld.com:
42 percent of African Americans who attended a predominantly white university never had a single black professor during four years of college.
Nearly three-quarters of these students (74 percent) had only one black professor in a field outside of African American studies.
In a recent piece for ThyBlackMan.com, Dr. Boyce Watkins, professor at Syracuse University commented on the survey’s results, writing:
There are various theories regarding why black professors are missing in many of America’s universities. To hear the story told by many campus administrators, black professors are missing because they simply don’t exist or are all unqualified to teach at predominantly white institutions. “We can’t find qualified minorities” is the typical comment made on many campuses who claim to seek diversity. In my experience teaching at the college level over the past 17 years, I cannot agree with this assessment. My in-box is full of stories from black professors all over the country who either cannot get academic jobs, or who were released from their campuses because they “didn’t fit” with the culture of the faculty in their departments.
The survey’s results made me think back to my own college experience and my interactions with black professors. Like those surveyed, I too attended a predominantly white university. Fortunately, I was blessed to take classes with two phenomenal African American women professors. What I learned from Professor Tayari Jones and Dr. Linda Bland Stewart went beyond just the classroom. Whether I was editing my creative writing pieces with an award-winning author or learning about linguistics and ethnicity from one of the most revered experts in her field, there was an empowering message sent merely from their presence.
Every experience is different. For my friends who attended HBCUs, the Black professor was less of a rarity. But on a campus where students of color were few and far between, having even one great Black professor was a gift. Standing in front of the class, they let students like myself see Blacks could be gifted, recognized academics, a model rarely seen on campuses across the country.
What are your thoughts on the survey, Clutchettes and gents? Do the results tell the story of your college experience? Share your thoughts!