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Who is White? Bigotry and Discrimination at a Traditionally Black College

hbcu, alabama state“A white professor is accusing Alabama State University, an Historically Black College, of discriminating against him and his partner after they blew the whistle on racial preferences at the school.”

from website “Black like Moi”

An ASU diversity officer, “Why did we have to listen to two white men speak today?”   from Montgomery Advisor

Dr. John Garland is suing the historically black Alabama State University for trying to ease him out of his job as a tenure track assistant  professor of Rehabilitation Studies. Garland, is a Native American and is also gay.

Ironically, aside from his credentials in rehabilitation, Professor Garland’s expertise addresses issues of righting the wrongs of discrimination against Native Americans.  His research interests include American Indian college student development and experiences at predominately White institutions (PWIs).  He has held leadership roles with the Native American Network, and the Standing Committee on Disability. Currently, Dr. Garland serves as the Associate Editor of ACPA’s quarterly publication Developments, and co-chairs the research committee for the Native American Network.

Garland’s husband, Steven B. Chesbro, the only dean at ASU not designated as African-American or black, has also filed a discrimination complaint against ASU with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

The suit claims a certain cadre of employees there think he, as well as his white husband Dr. Steven Chesbro, don’t belong at the school because they are white. Dr. Garland claims to have overheard  university officials say that only African American faculty were “suited to our type of institution.” On another occasion, Garland says he heard members of a search committee say they were looking for a candidate who was both female and black.

The lawsuit states that “Garland’s supervisor expressed his opinion, stated or implied, that Dr. Garland did not belong at the University and was not ‘suited to [the University’s] type of students’ because Dr. Garland is not African American.”  “A small, powerful group at the University believes that Drs. Garland and Chesbro have no place at the University simply because of their non-African American or non-black identity. This group, including combinations of the individually named defendants, has conspired to destroy the careers and employment of these two dedicated teachers. Some administrators and faculty welcome and support Drs. Garland and Chesbro as colleagues, while others reluctantly accept their presence as a necessary evil due to legal considerations.”

Garland is suing the school for reinstatement to his former position, or a comparable position, and the removal of derogatory, defamatory, and inaccurate material from his personnel file, back pay and lost benefits and “freedom to work in a non-discriminatory, non-retaliatory, and non-hostile environment.” Alabama State University will not comment on the pending lawsuit.

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