Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Stopping the Stereotype

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Stopping the Stereotype

Article excerpt

I am in my third year as a professor at one of the most ethnically diverse campuses in the nation. In the college of education, words such as social justice, critical pedagogy, diversity and equity saturate most documents.

However, it was two years into my professorship before another faculty member engaged me in a conversation about my research or any other intellectual matter. Previous conversations centered on my physique, working out and sports. Yet embedded and evident in these conversations is the age-old Black male experience of being both feared and desired.

"We're scared, we're scared," said a White male colleague when he and a group of other White men saw me walk down the hall.

And I could write a chapter on some of my experiences with students. One is particularly emblematic. I taught a 9:00 a.m. Saturday class and, as I often do before class began, I walked around to welcome students. As I approached a middle-aged Asian male student, he pulled a picture of a Chippendale dancer out of his pocket and said, "You can be one of them."

A senior faculty member approached me in a hallway after a department meeting. She said that they were just talking about me in their meeting. She told me that they were considering a fund-raising calendar, and they wanted me to pose for all 12 months.

I certainly do not think any of these people meant to insult or objectify me. If these were independent incidents, they might be inconsequential and, in some cases, flattering. Yet, placed in a larger context, in terms of how Black males are often perceived, they concern me. …

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