News – Vanguard
Last Tuesday, the Portland State School of Social Work created a cultural conversation on race and higher education.
Students and community members gathered in Parkway North at the Smith Memorial Student Union to hear thoughts on race in higher education from a panel of five that included students and community activists.
Panelists included students and Black Lives Matter activists Robin Davis and Tessara Dudley, Somali Student Association President and Student Labor Action Project member Ladan Abdi, BLM and All-African People’s Revolutionary Party organizer Adrienne Cabot, Co-director of Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays Portland Black Chapter Leila Haile.
“We’re going to start off by asking how we define higher education. Is the current state of higher education actually working?” moderator and student Jaboa Lake asked to kick off the panel.
“I don’t see myself in the curriculum, I don’t see myself in the student body,” Davis said. “I don’t see myself in the faculty, and especially the full time and tenured faculty.”
“There are times when there are really racist things said by students that teachers let go by. There are things that are taught in the curriculum that we don’t question that are from the dominant culture that I know don’t speak to my community—that are patronizing, that are dismissive of our cultural practices in a lot of ways—and teachers don’t want to interrupt that,” Davis later continued.
“I really love my professors, and I really love my program,” Abdi said. “However, it’s really isolating being the only Muslim Somali American. People are always asking my opinion and view and I always have to prove myself.”
PSU’s website reports that just three percent of the student body identifies as African American, as of the fall 2015 academic term. In comparison, census.gov places Portland’s African …