Naomi Schaefer Riley has been fired from the Chronicle of Higher Education after her blog post blasting Black Studies sparked a national outcry. In her article, Riley used the titles of dissertations she saw on a sidebar for the Chronicle to argue against the legitimacy of Black Studies.
“If ever there were a case for eliminating the discipline, the sidebar explaining some of the dissertations being offered by the best and the brightest of black-studies graduate students has made it,” wrote Riley. “What a collection of left-wing victimization claptrap.”
The post generated over 1,300 comments, many from scholars of African American Studies themselves. Riley’s words also sparked a petition that got over 6,500 signatures. Based on a statement from the Chronicle of Higher Education, the outcry inspired them to act. “When we published Naomi Schaefer Riley’s blog posting on Brainstorm last week … several thousand of you spoke out in outrage and disappointment that The Chronicle had published an article that did not conform to the journalistic standards and civil tone that you expect from us,” wrote the site editor, Liz McMillen.
Riley stands by her post and defended it in an essay she sent to the Wall Street Journal. “The content of my post, after all, is hardly shocking; the same thing could have been written 30 years ago. And perhaps that’s the most depressing part of all this,” wrote Riley. “Despite the real social and economic advancement that has been made by blacks in this country, the American faculty is still stuck in the 1960s.”
Riley was well within her right to have an opinion on the validity of any discipline, however, it would be beneficial for her to do more research on the discipline rather than making assumptions based on titles. The fact that she believes that Black Studies exists to “blame the white man” shows how little she knows about the discipline. The history and culture of people of color is usually relegated to a blurb in the corner of a history book and ethnic studies were created combat this issue. She seems to operate under the post-racial myth that black people have nothing left to fight for.
“Not much of a surprise since the entirety of black studies today seems to rest on the premise that nothing much has changed in this country in the past half century when it comes to race. Shhhh. Don’t tell them about the black president,” wrote Riley in her original post.
The fact that Riley believes having a black president means racism is gone is the best argument for the existence of Black Studies.