The University of Florida’s Anthropology Department recently invited all the students in one particular course to a virtual townhall — except the white students.
Students enrolled in the course received an email to the townhall, which was organized by two PhD students, according to Kara Zupkus of Young America’s Foundation. The email was addressed to BIPOC (black, indigenous, people of color) students, and stated:
We have some amazing graduate students in Anthropology that are holding a virtual Town Hall tomorrow, Nov 19 4:30 p.m. to discuss future directions and goals for a BIPOC Anthropology Group (open to non-anthro BIPOC majors and minors).
To ensure this event is a safe space, organizers are asking that you reach out to them for the Zoom link. An important message from them: “We kindly remind all that you respond to this space [sic] is only for those who identify as a BIPOC individuals in this department. While we appreciate white students may want to join to learn more about the BIPOC perspective, we ask they respect this space as a chance for BIPOC students to come together as BIPOC. We cannot hide our skin color, and for this reason we already navigate the University of Florida as BIPOC surrounded by a majority white student body and faculty body. We ask white students to respect that this is a space where BIPOC students can come together without the need to perform any emotional or mental labor to explain their experiences as BIPOC. Additionally, we acknowledge colorism exists within our own BIPOC communities and therefore we kindly ask all BIPOC students to be mindful that we will be a diverse group of BIPOC students, and it is expected we will respect differences in experiences due to colorism.”
The email concluded, “Don’t be shy if you are interested in attending but not an Anthropology major — they welcome all BIPOC students!” The official UF Anthropology department account also retweeted an ad for the event.
“This follows a string of recent segregated trainings and town halls exposed through YAF’s Campus Bias Tip Line, including at the University of Kentucky (UK), UC Davis, University of Denver, and University of Buffalo,” Zupkus noted.
At the University of Kentucky, resident assistants were divided into two training groups, “one for RAs who identify as Black, Indigenous, Person of Color and one for RAs who identify as White.” YAF noted, “The trainings were prefaced with a presentation by Brandon Colbert of UK’s Bias Incident Support Services, who, according to the email, talked about ‘microaggressions and microinvalidations in the workplace and the harm that they cause.’ Students who attended the ‘White Accountability Space’ were given a document before the training, highlighting a list of 41 “common racist behaviors and attitudes of white people.”
UC Davis also had resident assistant training that segregated students by race. The training website stated, “Student staff should only participate in an affinity group if they hold that identity. These groups are not for those wanting to learn about that identity or to explore curiosity in that identity.”