On Tuesday, the Chronicle of Higher Education severed ties with a blogger that dismissed black studies as “left-wing victimization clap-trap” but that hasn’t stopped her from hating on black studies.
Naomi Schaefer Riley, posted her commentary, called “The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations,” on The Chronicle’s Brainstorm blog on April 30.
She’s continued to take stabs at black studies and has an even bigger platform now. Most recently she said “black studies is a cause, not a course of study.”
The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed by Riley that digs in event deeper.
My longtime familiarity with the absurdities of higher education did not, I confess, prepare me for this most absurd of results. The content of my post, after all, is hardly shocking; the same thing could have been written 30 years ago. And perhaps that’s the most depressing part of all this. Despite the real social and economic advancement that has been made by blacks in this country, the American faculty is still stuck in the 1960s.
In her op-ed Riley also threw a fellow blogger at the Chronicle under the bus:
Gina Barreca, a teacher of English and feminist theory at the University of Connecticut, composed a poem mocking me. (It begins “A certain white chick—Schaefer Riley/ decided to do something wily.”) MSNBC host Melissa Harris-Perry spewed a four-minute rant about my post, invoking the memory of Trayvon Martin and accusing me of “small-mindedness.” … When I asked Ms. McMillen whether the poem by fellow blogger Ms. Barreca, for instance, lived up to such standards, she said they were “reviewing” the other content on the site. So far, however, that blogger has not been fired. Other ad hominem attacks against me seem to have passed editorial muster as well.
Riley did manage to make one meaningful statement that got her point across in a productive way.
“My critics have suggested that I do not believe the black experience in America is worthy of study. That is not true,” Riley wrote in the op-ed. “It’s just that the best of this work rarely comes out of black studies departments.”
So the debate continues. Riley isn’t letting this die down anytime soon.