Culture

UC Faculty Training: Saying ‘America Is the Land of Opportunity’ Is a Microaggression

The phrase is just one of many that faculty were advised not to use.

University of California faculty leader-training handout instructed professors not to say that “America is the land of opportunity” because that’s a racist, sexist microaggression.

According to the handout, called “Tool: Recognizing Microaggressions and the Messages they Send,” the statement “assert[s] that race and gender [do] not play a role in life successes” — despite the fact that saying opportunities exist and saying that opportunities are more easily attainable for some people than others are not mutually exclusive assertions.

Other microaggressions listed on the document include asking, “Where are you from or where were you born?” (because it suggests that the person you’re asking is “not a true American”); asking a post-doctoral minority student whether he or she is lost in the halls of a chemistry building (because it makes ”the assumption that the person is trying to break into one of the labs”); and having students fill out forms on which they have to check a box indicating whether they’re male or female.

#related#Another handout, called “Tool for Identifying Implicit Bias: Awareness of Common Shortcuts,” listed some no-nos for conducting a job search, including “expecting candidates to resemble someone whom the search committee is replacing” — despite the fact that looking to replace an employee with a similar employee seems pretty logical given the fact that the replacement by definition would be doing the same kind of work.

According to the university’s webpage, the seminars were initiated by UC president and former Department of Homeland Security head Janet Napolitano. Napolitano’s invitation touted them as a place to talk about the “best way to build and nurture a productive academic climate” and help attendees meet their “responsibility” to do so.

Napolitano’s invitation, dated last January, announced that the seminars would be offered at all ten UC system schools, but an article posted Wednesday on the College Fix states that they were held at only nine of the ten campuses throughout the 2014–15 school year.

— Katherine Timpf is a reporter for National Review Online   

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