Friday, March 13, 2009

Institutional Racism Against an IA?

Over in the great state of Hawaii, a professor at the University of Hawaii-Manoa, who was banned from campus and forbidden to talk to anyone at the school in 2007, has filed a lawsuit against the College of Education and the State of Hawaii.

Professor Michael D'Andrea in his lawsuit alleges "retaliatory harassment" over his complaints in 2007 about institutional racism at the University. Professor D'Andrea was banned from campus and from speaking to faculty, staff and students because of alleged complaints about his bullying and intimidating conduct. He reached a settlement with the University after he was banned.

The professor filed a complaint with the Hawaii Civil Rights Commission in 2006, alleging the University was discriminating against him because he is Italian-American and because of his complaints to the University over alleged institutional racism and sexism.

Professor D'Andrea is a tenured professor in the Department of Counseling Education. He said the University is in the process of trying to fire him, but he's still doing research and being paid by the University.

"My working-class Italian-American background and the way I communicate may conflict with persons in other cultural groups that are less direct in their approach," Professor D'Andrea told the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. He also said he believes the University is treating him differently from other people who have been accused of workplace violence and harassment because of his opposition to the Iraq war and in retaliation for his complaints against the administration.

I don't know enough about this case to say whether Professor D'Andrea is right or not. He could be telling the truth, or he could be an oversensitive type who has perceived some slight by the University.

But I do know that there definitely is institutional racism against IAs in this country. Just as there is overt racism by many people in this country. This very well may be that case at the University of Hawaii.

What I find interesting though is that this takes place in Hawaii. If any group of people should be sensitive to racism -- institutional or otherwise -- it should be native Hawaiians. They have been feeling its effects since the Republic of Hawaii was taken over by the United States in 1893. They of all people should know that it exists and be wary of practicing it.