It looks like the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is finding out the hard way that bending to white fragility can come at a cost.
Ever since Nikole Hannah-Jones was denied a tenured position at her alma mater because conservatives across America went to war against her Pulitzer Prize-winning work The 1619 Project—including a rich and fragile white UNC donor who took issue with the teaching of history from a Black perspective instead of more white history in a sea of white history curriculum—the outpouring of support for the famed journalist has been overwhelming. Hell, more than 250 renowned activists and other public figures signed a letter declaring that they “stand in solidarity” with Hannah-Jones.
Now, UNC-Chapel Hill’s chemistry department is complaining that, due to the school’s bowing to white nationalist nonsense, the department has lost a top candidate it worked damn hard to get on staff because the candidate also stands with Hannah-Jones.
HuffPost reports that more than 30 faculty members from the university’s chemistry department sent a letter to UNC Chancellor Kevin Guskiewicz decrying the loss of Lisa Jones, “a world-renowned chemist who withdrew her candidacy for a job at UNC over the school’s refusal to grant Hannah-Jones tenure,” according to the Post.
Jones, who holds a doctorate in chemistry and is currently teaching at the University of Maryland, said she couldn’t look past UNC’s treatment of Hannah-Jones when considering whether to join its faculty.
“The news this week that Nikole Hannah-Jones was denied tenure was very disheartening,” Jones, who is Black, said in the letter. “It does not seem in line with a school that says it is interested in diversity. Although I know this decision may not reflect the view of the school’s faculty, I will say that I cannot see myself accepting a position at a university where this decision stands. I appreciate all of the effort you have put into trying to recruit me but for me this is hard to overlook.”
Faculty from UNC’s chemistry department said they’d been working over the past two years to recruit Jones.
“Her letter, withdrawing her candidacy to join our faculty, is a reflection of what our nation’s minority scholars will be saying about the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as they search for job opportunities or consider if this University is the right fit,” they warned.
Imagine your very public bending over to white supremacy becoming part of your legacy. Seems to me UNC-Chapel Hill would’ve been much better off ignoring all of the white tears and doing right by Hannah-Jones. Maybe the board never expected that so many people—Black people especially—would be standing together in support of Hannah-Jones and refusing to be quiet about the effort to keep American history whitewashed.
Seriously, when this story and others from this time period are told to future generations, what side of history do you want to be on?