The Trap of Minority Studies Programs

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Originally published at

When Naomi Schaefer Riley was fired by the Chronicle of Higher Education for her trenchant remarks on Black Studies programs, most of those who criticized the firing saw in it a display of the campus left’s intolerance. Fair enough, but this episode also has a much broader meaning.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, large populations of poor immigrants arrived in the U.S.–Irish, Italians, and Jews from Russia and Poland. Their extreme poverty placed them at the bottom of the social ladder, and they were often treated with contempt. Yet just a few generations later they were assimilated, and their rapid upward social mobility had produced mayors, senators, judges, and even Presidents from among their ranks. None of this could have happened without first-rate public education.

To be sure, they worked hard to get ahead, but they were not obstructed by something that afflicts the have-nots of today: as they walked through the school gates they were not met by people intent on luring them into Irish or Italian Studies programs whose purpose was to keep them in a state of permanent resentment over past wrongs at the hands of either Europeans or establishment America. Instead, they could give their full attention to learning. They took courses that informed them about their new land’s folkways and history, which gave them both the ability and the confidence needed to grasp the opportunities it offered them.

When we compare this story with what is happening to minority students today, we see a tragedy. Just as Pinocchio went off to school with high hopes, only to be waylaid by J. Worthington Foulfellow, minority students are met on the way to campus by hard-left radicals who claim to have the interests of the newcomers at heart but in reality prey on them to advance their own selfish interests. Of course, what black students need is the same solid traditional education that had raised Irish, Italians, and Jews to full equality. But that would not serve the campus radicals’ purpose. Disaffected radicals wanted to swell the ranks of the disaffected, not the ranks of the cheerfully upward mobile. Genuine progress for minority students would mean their joining and thus strengthening the mainstream of American society–the mainstream that campus radicals loathe.

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  • Jane Larson Baer

    The schools were so desparate to have minority students that they didn't bother to note that for every minority let in before someone else ….that someone else was not let in. Think about it: why are colleges today snobby towards lower income whites (with their guns and bibles)…because they never encounter any in their classes.

  • Robin

    John-Excellent piece but I see the plantation mentality as spreading throughout higher ed. AACU's "Making Excellence Inclusive" Initiative calls for completely redefining higher ed away from the transmission of knowledge.

    In order to Achieve "Equitable Outcomes with All Students" we are gutting the intellectual essence for everyone not just looking for a diverse dialogue of perspectives. Each deemed equally valid in advance and entitled to respect.

    Then we have the accreditors using their immense powers of sanction to be the political enforcer with agendas like "Using Accreditation to Promote Diversity". I pulled that off 1 2006 WASC presentation to an AACU conference.

    I have also written about the unappreciated real allegiances that seem to be driving accreditation these days.

    This needs to be better appreciated because right now in education globally accreditors have become the ultimate political sovereign. A licensee of governments yet proceeding as if they are not accountable to anyone.

  • Spider

    And no one can figure out why we are rapidly falling behind the rest of the world in education.

    • BS77

      Most of these phony "Studies" programs are just to provide losers with degrees.

  • StephenD

    Take Robin's point another step and we see the influence of the text book barons. I expect soon we'll have the text books come directly from Saudi Arabia. Why bother with any attempt to be subtle when we openly accept the pabulum and think it meat.

  • clarespark

    These separatist college programs for minorities and women don't teach them economics, which leaves the student unfit to take her place in modern society. I wrote about the stigma of "economic determinism" here:… Title: Ralph Bunche and the Jewish problem, a conference paper delivered in 2004. It was hated by those academics who had annexed Bunche to the black nationalist agenda. Title: Ralph Bunche and the Jewish Problem.

  • clarespark

    The origins of multiculturalism are the main theme of my website. For an index see…. I especially recommend the one about white enabling of black power in the late 1960s and onward.

    • poppakap

      Hi Clare,

      I was hoping you would comment on this article if for no other reason than to help me find the articles you had written on this topic. As someone who has personally witnessed the pimping of higher education to the "protected classes," I hold your opinion in high esteem.

  • dennis x

    This article is a joke. Unlike white europeans Black Africans were brought here against their will. Slaves were here for ax. 100 years when european immigrant began arriving in the 1920's and 30's. Black People in amerikkka were already attending segregated schools/ colleges. Black Studies Programs didn't exist until the late 1970's. These classes are just one part of ones over all program . whites sre just now discovering the great education at schools like Morehouse, Spellmen, Howard etc.

    • Drakken

      I usually don't talk to students with ethnics studies for backgrounds, but when I do I usually ask for large fries.

      • Sound&Fury

        An essential job skill that should be a prerequisite for every grad from one of these programs is to learn how to say "Do you want fries with that?".

        These programs are for students who take the short bus to school.

      • SKIP


        • dennis x

          By far your best work.

    • SKIP

      Most of us Whites are REAL SORRY whites didn't pick their own cotton too!

      • dennis x

        Nor did you build the railroads, or the Capital.

    • topeka

      factually inaccurate…

      the eastern european immigration wave was largely over by the 20's – both b/c of oppression and b/c of economic distress in europe. by the 30's the tsunami of immigrants had subsided as a proportion of the resident population to an insignificant number…

      this is best seen by plotting the ratio of immigrants annually to the total population.

      Also – segregated schools was a phenom of the eugenics movement – Public schools that had been integrated were segregated in the late 19th century – and the contagion spread to places where it had never been before

      Finally – whites are discovering nothing – they are forgetting their own heritage

      And it is minorities who are losing – Great Minds and Doers with Suntans are going Down the Memory Hole – in favor of Left Wing Authors.

      • dennis x

        My point is that slavery preceeded white european immmigration. Also, there where no intergrated school in the south where the vast majority of freed slaves were. The schools I listed were segregated up to in some cases the laate 1950's. And yes minorities are losing due to tyhe influx of whites into these institutions. Alot of displaced jewish teachers taught at these schools after WWII.

    • Ghostwriter

      dennis x,you're as much a bigot as those you decry. Why don't you wise up and stop your bigotry?

  • guest

    The ignorance of American history in this piece is monumental. Ironic that an author who laments the decline of a rigorous education is in serious need of one himself! A few "minor" points missing here: the waves of European immigration he refers to occurred during one of the great industrial expansion's in modern history. European immigrants succeeded en mass over decades because the economy and larger society were expanding rapidly. I.e. they could be accommodated. Of course the author doesn't mention that waves of black migrants from the South between 1910-1940 didn't do quite as well. I guess that was because of all the radical professors and black studies classes migrants were taking in the 1930s! No, it was because there was a racial caste system. So by the time the 60s rolled around, all of the problems the author blames on college classes (i have to suppress the laugh here, but for the sake of argument, I am treating this idea seriously) were already well entrenched.

    When the ban on non-white immigration was finally lifted in 1965, another wave of immigrants came, mostly more educated people from Asia and Africa who were needed bc white American students were not studying math and science enough to keep up with the Russians. They succeeded not only because of hard work but because they were needed, were highly educated and often came with significant resources. Of course, Latin American migrants came as well to fill the bottom rung of the labor markets, and i don't think it was Chicano studies classes that kept most of them down there to this day.

    Go read a text book on American history from the pre-multicultural period. They are factually inaccurate on major issues, including slavery. I fail to see how teaching black kids that slaves were mostly happy and docile would inspire them to greatness. Or how telling them the truth about slavery, Jim Crow, the violence of the anti-civil rights movement, etc. is disempowering. Seems the author objects to teaching real history and wants some sanitized version.

    Finally, the author knows very little about college and what minority students study. Very few major in ethnic studies, so how that can explain anything large scale phenomenon is beyond me. Those that do at most colleges are still required to take gen ed classes. And most students who take these classes take one or two, the rest of their classes are from their majors, which are not substantially different from white students: econ, business, comm, etc.

    So really, to put a fine point on it, this piece is complete bs. It is internally inconsistent, factually inaccurate and written by a third rate thinker with an ideological ax to grids. Ironic, the same charges he flings at those he attacks.

    • Drakken

      Ethnic studies? Are you kidding me? No wonder why we in the West are in the middle of Balkanizing to the point of real and extremely bloody conflict. You are either a self hating, self loathing, white liberal or a minority with an ax to grind, either one does nothing to advance America. You thank thank those useful idiots in 65 for the dumbing down of the US by the way.

    • topeka

      Comprehension Challenged:

      The essay is forward looking – and discusses nothing significant about the past – and at no point are past sins blamed on college professors of any kind – other than the sin of mal-edumacation.

      While I cannot speak for Ellis – I can speak for myself – I hold thirteen years of advanced education – and I have personally experienced the Victims of Minority Studies Education ….

      I call them Drones, Sheeple, Useful Idiots, Feminazi's, Homonazi's, Span-Klan, and Black Racists.

      They spread Big Lies, and hatred for their Neighbors and the USA and the KIND, GENTLE, TOLERANT, HOBBIT-LIKE, HOPELESSLY UNPREPARED, GENEROUS CULTURE in which their weeds have taken root.

      Many are Victims – b/c they know not what they spew – but the Leadership and the Professors are LIARS; Focusing on Outliers and Ignoring Comparisons.

      • topeka

        Real Minority Studies: Every Black American today should be forced to endure an accurate history of Africa – the brutal waves of wars, slavery, ethnic cleansing, and genocidal pogroms against minorities. Every Asian should study the horrific violence committed by past and recent Warlords; and the visceral hatred between each tribe. Every Indian must study the caste systems; the centuries of wars; the misogyny; the deliberate rejection of Charity and Hospice (lest the poor not achieve a higher incarnation); and Muslim Migration. … And so on…

        There is a reason Europe rose to industrial dominance – and not b/c of the "civilization" of China or the East – but inspite of those elitist, class-based, totalitarian societies… that reason becomes obvious when the WARS, TRADE, POLITICS, ECONOMICS, LAW, SCIENCE, and ART are ADDED BACK to Correct the Bias of "Minority" Spew.

        People of Suntans are ill served by reading a radicalized, narrow, falsified "herstory." They are turning their backs on the ONLY CULTURE and CIVILIZATION to DEMAND HUMAN DIGNITY FOR ALL PEASANTS – and the middle finger to those who style themselves and Holier Than Thou elite.

        • dennis x

          Those us history classes that included " brutal waves of war, slavery ,ethnic cleaning , genocidal pogroms against minorities and indigenous peoples and colonialism were bad enough. Your wealth was build on the backs of others. Pay back is a ————!

          • Drakken

            You do so at your own peril.

  • H&R_ Barack

    In today's highly—competitive college admissions environment, many Asian—American students are discovering that Affirmative Action and other race—based quota systems are wreaking havoc on their higher education plans.

    It is common knowledge that Asian students, some of whom must learn English as a second language face higher admissions standards than any other racial group.

    Native—born Filipino—Americans have an admissions advantage, as their Spanish—surnames may mislead college admissions offices into believing that they are Hispanic. Similarly, Chinese—American applicants with ethnically ambiguous surnames such as 'Young' or 'Shaw' or adoptees from Asia may increase their chances for admission merely by rendering hazy their ethnic origins.

    The net effect of demographics and racial quotas has been the academic 'ghettoization' of many select colleges and universities.

    Asian Americans and Affirmative Action:… American Thinker 8/03/05

  • tagalog

    A college education in America has always been a bit schizophrenic, in that it serves two goals. The first is to provide high-performing young people with valuable skills. The second is to provide them with a liberal (in the old sense of the word, i.e., the education of free people) education, so that they could take their place among our leaders in politics, schools, law, and so on.

    To the end of providing a liberal education, the typical canon was the seven liberal arts or some variation on that theme. Now that logical positivism has infected higher education to the point where the canon has been abandoned, people can immerse themselves in things like Ethnic or Gender Studies for most of a four-year education. How marketable those degrees actually are is now becoming clear, although it must have been known for a couple of generations at this point to the students who shucked and jived themselves into graduating with such worthless majors. I mean, it's arguably worth something if you have a deep grounding in literature, philosophy, and history, or even political science, economics, and sociology, but when your value is what you know about the Civil Rights struggle and the suffragettes, things get a bit thin on the ground.

    Perhaps it would be OK, except that I have a bit of trouble seeing a B.A. in Ethnic Studies working as a cab driver with no future advancement in sight as being anything but REALLY hacked off.

  • flyingtiger

    Many immigrants from Russa and Poland were not Jews. They managed to to succeed in American due to hard work and education. I know you didn't mean to insult them, at least I hope you didn't.Just be careful how you write in the future so that you will not ne misunderstood.

  • Schlomotion

    Dear Mr. Ellis,

    You oppose Minority Studies Programs.

    So what should be done about: U. Albany's Judaic Studies Department, American Jewish University, The Brandeis-Bardin Institute, Bar-Ilan University's 21 Jewish Studies research institutes, the University of California-Berkeley's Joint Doctoral Program in Jewish Studies, Binghamton University's major and minor in Judaic Studies, The Lown School of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, Brown University's undergrad concentration in Jewish Studies and graduate MA and PhD degrees, The Institute for Israel and Jewish Studies at Columbia University, or the other ten thousand Jewish Studies programs?

    • tagalog

      What is U. Albany? Do you mean SUNY at Albany, formerly Albany StateTeachers' College?

    • Drakken

      Yeah we know, you hate Jews you effing scumbag.

    • BS77

      Schlomotion is a waste of oxygen. Do not respond to him .

  • Schlomotion


  • topeka

    "they were often treated with contempt"

    A normal condition of humanity – so obviously we should Hate the Nation that aspires to travel the road less traveled and pursue a different path.

    Lib-tards will no doubt point to all of the contempt available in the community – never mind it is their team which keeps this alive.

    Amercians have always been more or less "human" in that some of us hold others in low esteem: NONE are matched in this than the LEFT. They are the ones obsessed with ethnicity, suntan, genitals, and lifestyle choices. They are the ones sucking up Alinsky – and criticising the ONE NATION on the planet that has tried assimilating everyone.

    Compare America to any other nation – and none hold a candle to US – that's why we changed the world – and it is OUR TOLERANCE, OUR GENEROSITY, OUR OPEN SYSTEM, OUR BEHAVIOR-MERIT ORIENTED BELIEFS – that made us the LEADER in Human Rights – Especially Political and Economic Freedom – the right to keep the wealth you earn – which is necessary for Freedom in the Bedroom, Workplace, and at Home and Hearth!!

    • topeka

      I have worked with engineers who came to America to escape discrimination beyond anything in America (save the Peculiar Institution). No call to dry tomes written by dead white guys decrying this injust or that – these men and women have escaped prison, Jihad, forced abortion, terrorism, racism beyond anything we can comprehend – to ENJOY WHAT LEFTIES HATE.

      The LEFT HATES… could stop there – but they hate all of these: They want an intolerant, selfish, closed system of special privileges denying others the freedoms for which OUR FOREFATHERS FOUGHT… and for which OUR SOLDIERS STILL FIGHT.

      Minority "Studies" is one small attack in the Left's plan – keeping tabs, and nursing grievances to spark one-sided Alinsky criticism of Western Civilization, Whites, and Judeo-Christian values – often based on the Big Lie – that b/c OUR CIVILIZATION HATES OPPRESSION – therefore we should destroy it – In Favor of WHAT?!?!

      • Drakken

        The left is using our tolerance against us by jamming it down our throats. I forsee very bad things happening as ther Balkanization continues.

  • dennis x

    In a few years white european history will be that of a minority in north amerikkka.

  • Ghostwriter

    You're a slug as well as a bigot,dennis x.