The latest instance of academic racism takes us to Georgetown Law, where a professor lost her job after making disparaging comments about Black students.
According to the Washington Post, professors Sandra Sellers and David Batson at the Washington, D.C., university were having a conversation over a video call. At one point during the call, the professor saw fit to disparage the academic efforts of her Black students. “I end up having this angst every semester that a lot of my lower ones are Blacks, happens almost every semester,” Sellers is heard saying in the video. “And it’s like, ‘Oh, come on.’ You get some really good ones, but there are also usually some that are just plain at the bottom. It drives me crazy,” she added.
Maybe—hear me out—that means you should do a better job of reaching out to those students, perhaps see what factors might be contributing to their perceived underperformance and provide some recommendations on how they can improve. If it really “drives you crazy,” then do something more than just complaining about it over Zoom.
The video was uploaded to Panopto, an online database that students have been using to learn virtually as a result of the ongoing pandemic. The call was initially a lesson on negotiations, but Batson and Sellers stayed on the call after students left and had their conversation. As a result, their exchange was uploaded as part of the lesson.
Do we need to give technical incompetence an NAACP Award? Because it never fails to put racists on blast, y’all.
Understandably, the Black Law Student Association was not feeling the professor’s comments in the slightest, and created a petition that has already garnered over a thousand signatures from students, alumni, and others. The petition calls for the professor to be fired, a commitment from the school to hire more Black professors and an audit of the professor’s past grades and student evaluations. The group has also called on Batson to publicly apologize for not pushing back against Seller’s comments in the video.
At least one of those demands were met, as Law Center Dean William Treanor confirmed that Sellers has been fired. Batson is currently on administrative leave pending an ongoing investigation by the university’s office of diversity, equity and affirmative action. Sellers initially intended to resign, and in a resignation letter shared with the Washington Post, she apologized for her “hurtful and misdirected remarks.”