So, in my 20th Century African American Literature class our final was to write a 3-5 page paper on this article, “Making America White Again” by Toni Morrison, the black lives matter movement, the Trump administration and compare it to texts that we read in the class. Literary text written by black authors written 50-100 years ago. I wrote more than 10 pages, which will be turned into my white professor.
Going into this class, I was skeptical because my professor was a white male who has his doctorate in African American literature, when he had a stroke in the middle of the semester another white male professor who knew very little about African American Literature and his entire career has been focused on Shakespeare took over the course.
My class that had no white students, all skeptical of the two professors that were teaching on African American Literature. Though they did a good job covering certain authors, there was a problem keeping the classes attention and there’s a reason for that. We had to fill out a survey at the end of the course. One of the questions asked “What can the English department at St. John’s do to improve in this course?” after talking to several people we all agreed on one thing, the university needs to hire more people of color.
The past four years at St. John’s, myself and others have asked why the St. John’s faculty are predominantly white. Now, I’ve had some great professors at St. John’s, but 136 credits later, one major and two minors each department has me asking the same questions. Why For a university that prides itself on being diverse, it sure does lack in the diversity among staff members. Queens is the most diverse part of New York City. How did I only have one black male professor and one black female the past four years? Why didn’t I have any Latino or Asian professors? Why are white men teaching about African American Literature? Where is the diversity that this school prides itself on?
St. John’s has opened my eyes to many things since moving here in 2013 and I’m aware other universities have the same issues filling a diverse faculty. Also, I have been lucky to have two professors of color (who were incredible by the way) where many people I know didn’t. But it’s an issue to me, to me it’s inequality. To me, an entire class shouldn’t be asking why this white man is teaching about African American Literature and having a hard time keeping the classes attention. I don’t want to be putting this man or his career down, but it raises questions. I’m sure living in a city like New York, the university can hire a more diverse staff.