When Being Multilingual Goes Bad | Blog Post by Calvin Eaton

When Being Multilingual Goes Bad by Calvin Eaton

A recent incident at Duke University underscores the discrimination that international students and students of color have to endure even while obtaining an expensive graduate degree from a prestigious university.

As NBC News reports: Megan Neely, (a white woman) director of the Master of Biostatics Program stepped down (without personal apology) as director of graduate studies for the master’s program  after sending an email to faculty admonishing Chinese students not to speak their native language in public settings on campus. The tone deaf and clearly racist email admonished faculty to urge students to speak English 100% of the time to “improve their English”. Neely’ s letter was a response to complaining faculty who were disappointed that these students were not taking the opportunity to improve their English and were being so impolite as to have a conversation that not everyone on the floor could understand,” the email reads

Marginalized identities have had to deal with “implicit” and overt instances of discrimination and other microaggressions for decades so this being the type of conversation happening behind closed doors in 2019 is no surprise. White supremacy culture’s power structures says that often times white people’s well intended advice is toxic, xenophobic, and racist. It is rooted in pro-white colonialism and biased toward any one that doesn’t exude these ideals including the speaking of standard American English. 
But make no mistake, these instances of bias and stereotypes are not just “no big deal. They have larger implications like impeding upward mobility, gaining access into grad schools, progressing in grad school and even getting a job. In this instance at Duke this white woman professor’s  toxic ideals (English is better in America) is in a position of power and has the authority to shape these Chinese student’s trajectories and life. It is ironic that the same institution that allegedly wants diversity when it admits international students is complicit in forcing these students to abandon their native culture and language and assimilate to American ideals. 
It is ironic that the same institution that allegedly wants diversity when it admits international students is complicit in forcing these students to abandon their native culture and language and assimilate to American ideals”
Unfortunately nothing can protect marginalized identities from blatant or covert forms of discrimination. Not level of education. Not socio-economic status. Nothing.  This is why it is so important to #speakoutnow every single time. Calling these individuals and institutions out on their racism is absolutely necessary because their level of power is what makes board rooms, programs, and workplaces devoid of professionals of color.
To think that in 2019 speaking your native language at a prestigious university that admitted you from another country would be a cause for complaint and blacklisting by a white Dean in power. The hypocrisy, colonialism, and gall is too much to be believed. #smh
** This blog was expanded from a Facebook post 

Resources

  1. Learn more about 540’s antiracism programming 
  2. White Supremacy Culture
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: