Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Health Disparities Was ATopic for The Tau Rho Oratorical Contest At UM and a Naturalista Won! : Limited Black Faculty Numbers Up For Discussion Next?

   Very soon, I will give a talk at Teachers College Columbia University.  My Keynote Speech is entitled "An Exploration of the Convergence of Unjust Factors—Health Inequities, Mass Incarceration, Prison for Profit Healthcare, the School to Prison Pipe-line and Beyond—and Culturally Competent Multidisciplinary and Community Based Approaches Towards Solutions."  For more information, the link is here for the Conference: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/healthdisparitiesconference/My new book, which I am in the process of writing, to be released in 2016, will also focus on Health disparities.  Consequently, it was perfectly appropriate and exciting, when one of my former students contacted me and asked me to judge a Tao Rho Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc., Oratorical Contest about health disparities at the University of Miami, and I was thrilled to do so.   I am not a member of Delta Sigma Theta, or a member of any sorority, but nevertheless it was my honor to assist them. 
     The contestants were: 
  • Donovan Thomas 
  • Nigel Richardson 
  • Beja Turner
  • Kayla Lott

     All of the contestants were excellent so it was tough to choose but Beja really did an outstanding  job of speaking about health disparities. Nevertheless, before leaving the campus, I was advised by one of the judges to pick up the campus newspaper, the Miami Hurricane.  In it I found an article entitled Black Faculty Low: http://www.themiamihurricane.com/2015/02/22/black-faculty-numbers-low/.  Upon reading the article, I found it profoundly sad, to know that a young, Black, woman, student, along with  other Black students, who are so brilliantly talented and eager to have a culturally competent experience, at a university in which their tuition is extremely high, would be deprived of such an experience.  I found that the winner of the contest had stated the following in the article about Black faculty at UM:  “I rarely see them in any of our colleges and schools on campus outside of the Africana Studies department,” said Turner, a public relations co-chair for United Black Students (UBS). “My experience on campus has shown me that there’s a deficit in black teachers at UM.”  
     The Black faculty should at least be representative of the percentage of Black students at the University of Miami.   It is a top 50 school, #48, but so is the University of Florida, an athletic rival, and the latter is a state school, with a much lower cost of attendance and a more comprehensive physical environment, so I feel sad for the Black students who are not supported at UM by virtue of having significant numbers of Black Faculty, both women and men, to mentor, teach and serve as academic role models for them, although they are choosing to pay more, for the same or less, in terms of academics.  When I read the  Miami Hurricane article  it became clear to me that the Task Force mentioned in the article does not seem like a venture to be to optimistic about, particularly when it was stated in the article, by a Black administrator that "compared to the let's say top 50, our numbers are actually pretty good for Black faculty." This statement is shameful when most Black students at UM graduate without ever sitting in a course with a Black faculty member, as stated by Beja Turner above. Also, the article states that decisions, in terms of hiring, will still be made by the departments, rather than the task force, so therefore the status quo is the likely outcome. 
     Therefore, I close this post by praising the young Black students for their positive efforts, including the organizers of the event, the Oratorical contest participants and of course, the winner of said event, a Naturalista!  This was a clear indication that once again, Natural Is Cool Enough!  Hopefully, there will be a contest to discuss the limited number of Black Faculty at UM next.

Judges Getting Instructions 


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