By Phillip Jackson
As a Black man in America, I find it appalling that the University of North Carolina’s Black Caucus would choose to issue a declaration of support to defend the UNC even after the University admitted that it “cheated young Black men” out of the best education possible on its campus.
James Dean, UNC executive vice chancellor and provost of UNC, told Bloomberg Businessweek the university offered phony classes for decades, and ”Horrible things happened that I’m ashamed of.” UNC Chancellor Carol Folt, who only took office in 2013, admitted to UNC trustees that the flagship university failed students for years with a lack of academic oversight.
Even after these admissions of destroying the academic lives of mostly young Black male student athletes, the Carolina Black Caucus, comprised of Black UNC faculty and staff, defended the University of North Carolina and its destructive actions. Their declaration in support of UNC is more of a “cheer” for their jobs than a principled stand on the issue of successfully educating all UNC students.
Maybe these esteemed faculty and staff of the Carolina Black Caucus don’t realize that their university students are not just competing among themselves in the big cities and small towns of North Carolina. Maybe they don’t understand that being globally competent is a much “bigger game” to win than football or basketball!
I am appalled by and ashamed of the faculty and staff at UNC, but I am not surprised. This declaration of support is the kind of action I expect from people who have lost touch with the history of Black people in America and have forgotten what it took for Black people to be admitted to attend schools like UNC. These professional men and women are not scholars and leaders; they are cowards.
Recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education show that only 12 percent of eighth grade Black boys in Charlotte, North Carolina can read at a proficient level. If the 88 percent of Black boys in Charlotte who cannot read at a proficient level are lucky enough to win a basketball or football scholarship to UNC, the Carolina Black Caucus will be there to cheer them on, but not to guarantee that they will become functionally literate when, and if, they graduate from UNC.
The University of North Carolina is not the only college in America taking advantage of Black student athletes for the sake of sports revenue. However, as of today, the Black faculty and staff at the University of North Carolina are the only Black faculty and staff openly encouraging their institution to exploit Black students.
Phillip Jackson is executive director of The Black Star Project in Chicago, Illinois at Black firstname.lastname@example.org.