Georgetown’s plans on racial injustice (given slavery legacy) & New York Times selective coverage

Below is

  • a TL;DR version of the speech of President DeGioia, focused on the concrete plans and commitments the university is making to address racial injustice.
  • Comments (with links) on NYTimes’ selective coverage of Georgetown’s efforts

Speech:

The whole transcript and video is here, from Feb 2016:

1) “We are squarely facing unresolved issues of structural injustice in our nation.” Racial injustice is structural, persistent. Now we seem to be talking about it more, and it seems worse. Recent incidents that came to public attention (cell phones!) have shaken many people’s assumption that everything is fine, slavery is history, and we’re post-racial (ahem…)

2) Many of us having been working hard on these issues. Academia included, or else we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. But it’s been way too damn slow, and we need to speed it up. We need to be true to our Jesuit values, to live them.

3) “I suggest that we make four commitments as we move forward in the pursuit of ameliorating the structural injustices that pervade our racial divides.”
— Build a campus center of gravity around these issues. Department and/or a broader Interdisciplinary Program of African American Studies. Permanent. With resources and faculty. A Working Group on Racial Injustice to figure out how to make it necessarily interdisciplinary.
— A new Research Center that studies racial injustice and the persistent and enduring legacy of racism and segregation in America. We “must engage the continuing challenges that flow from the tragic history of slavery and segregation of our nation.”
— We will commit to recruit the number of faculty commensurate with the commitments needed (for those two entities), and grad fellowships and post-doc opps. Starting with four faculty this year, four more next year.
— “A new senior officer” to make all these things happen in good form.

Why now? Because our social and political culture has not been remedied, but deterioriated. Moral imperative. And “because there is a holy impatience among the African-American community that delay is just another way of saying NO” (sic).

“I am a product of this place… I hope some of you will recognize your influence on me in these words.”

“I am presenting this charge that we do our part, as an important educational community, to hasten the common good and the shared justice for those for whom it has been too long denied.”

NYTimes’ selective coverage of GU efforts

Georgetown University’s slavery & racial injustice efforts

Georgetown President DeGioia gave a long speech in February laying out the university’s plans for addressing racial injustice and its own legacy of benefiting from slavery.

In the six months since, the New York Times (working with the university) published several stories detailing its findings and efforts, essentially calling for descendants to come forward and be identified.

Here’s what the New York Times chose to highlight in its coverage.

Original article in April, 2016:

The new measures include naming a building for one of the men who was sold and giving preferential admissions treatment to descendants of those who were enslaved.

May, “A Million Questions”

June 3, editorial “Where Does Georgetown Start? By Listening”

After student protests last fall, the university removed from two campus buildings the names of the two priests who arranged the sale. A working group of students, alumni, professors and others is exploring how to make amends for this history.

On the broader issue of racial injustice, the university will create a department of African-American studies and a research center to explore the enduring legacy of racism and segregation in the United States.

June 14, about meeting with descendants. “A working group assembled by Mr. DeGioia in September has been considering whether the university should apologize for profiting from slave labor, create a memorial to those enslaved, or provide scholarships for their descendants, among other possibilities.”

July:

By David J Collins, SJ, professor & chairman of its working group on slavery, memory and reconciliation:

September 1:

A formal apology, create an institute for the study of slavery and erect a public memorial to the slaves whose labor benefited the institution, and rename buildings, and preferential admissions, and hold a Mass of reconciliation. And through the institute, study GU’s legacy from slavery further and engage with descendants, including helping with genealogical research, with a “substantial financial” commitment.

NYT also published the entirety of the report, embedded in its site:

Reuters piece republished in NYT:

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store