Joy Karega: “I cannot accept the way that I have been treated as a Black woman on Oberlin’s faculty.”
You may remember Joy Karega, the Oberlin College Social Justice Writing professor (yes, there is such a position) who, when not helping organize anti-Israel BDS events with Students for a Free Palestine, posted bizarre Jewish conspiracy theories on Facebook.
Like this image of how the Rothschild family controls the world:
Karega also pushed other conspiracy theories, such as that the attacks on a Paris theater and Charlie Hebdo were Israeli false flag operations to distract attention from the Palestinian demands, and that Israel was behind ISIS:
She was concerned that Jewish groups might be making inroads with African-Americans:
In fairness, Karega also posted other batsh*t crazy conspiracy theories not involving Israel and Jews:
It probably will not surprise you that Karega was a supporter of the boycott of Israel and was chosen by Oberlin Students for Free Palestin to host at Oberlin the appearance of a pro-boycott California Professor Robin Kelley, whose work she incorporated into her teaching:
After Karega’s posts about Jews and Israel were exposed in The Tower Magazine, Oberlin was on the defensive after a long-series of anti-Semitic problems on campus centered around an out-of-control anti-Israel movement.
The administration condemned the comments to some extent, the Trustees issued a strong condemnation, and a majority of professors signed a statement against her, though she has a core of faculty and student support.
She was unmoved, proclaiming she was unbothered:
She received support from Prof. Robin Kelley and others, including some students and faculty on campus, and the antisemitic Veterans Today website:
For the past several months, Oberlin College has been considering carefully the grave issues surrounding the anti-Semitic postings on social media by Oberlin faculty member Dr. Joy Karega.
In March, in consultation with President Marvin Krislov, the Trustees of Oberlin College asked the administration and faculty to “challenge the assertion that there is any justification for these repugnant postings.” The College initiated its faculty governance process to review Dr. Karega’s professional fitness in light of these postings.
The faculty governance process that began thereafter is ongoing, and the Oberlin administration will continue to respect this process as it plays out. Until that process is complete, Dr. Karega has been placed on paid leave and will not teach at Oberlin.
In recognition of the sensitivity of this review process and the privacy of the individuals involved, we will have no other comment until the conclusion of the process.
Since then, as incredible as it might seem, pro-BDS groups on campus have started rallying around Karega, claiming she is the victim of a witch hunt and condemning an alumni group who complained about Karega.
The stakes just go raised, as Karega returned to campus and her supporters and she are claiming she is the victim of racism and that a pro-Israel alumni group has interfered in her review process. The Oberlin Review reports, Alumni Influenced Governance Process, Karega Says (emphasis added):
Breaking nearly two months of silence, Professor of Composition and Rhetoric Joy Karega returned to campus for a student-organized meeting in Afrikan Heritage House Wednesday night….
“The review process has stalled because many within and beyond the Oberlin community will not be satisfied with anything less than disciplinary action against me that involves my dismissal,” Karega wrote in an email to the Review Thursday. “Since March, I have been subjected to things that have made it clear to me that I am not a valued and respected member of Oberlin’s faculty. And that’s unfortunate.”
Karega claims that ACF targeted her as part of its efforts to overtake legitimate concerns of Jewish students on campus to push its own agenda. According to Karega, ACF targeted her due to her involvement both with ABUSUA’s list of demands and UCLA Professor Robin Kelley’s visit to campus.
In July, ACF wrote a letter to Oberlin’s Board of Trustees demanding an update and questioning the fact that Karega was scheduled to teach this semester. A few days later, President Marvin Krislov announced that the governance process was ongoing and that Karega would remain suspended until the end of the process.
“Professor Karega’s Facebook posts speak for themselves,” Oberlin ACF President Melissa Landa wrote in an email to the Review. “Any professional outcomes that Professor Karega experiences are based on decisions made by Oberlin College.”
Krislov declined to answer questions from the Review regarding the validity of Karega’s allegations, continuing a silent streak from the administration. Instead, he noted that the strictly confidential faculty governance process remains ongoing.
“It’s a fair process, a thorough process — we’re following it to the letter,” Krislov said….
Associate Professor of Theater and Africana Studies Justin Emeka participated in the discussion Wednesday and identified the treatment of Karega as an example of how Black lives are not valued in the Oberlin faculty. Emeka said that as far as he is aware, no one has ever been dismissed for being bigoted at Oberlin, and asked whether the first person would really be a Black woman.
“The fact is, certain ideas and people are dismissed and erased,” Emeka said. “Who has the right to have a voice on this campus? … The extreme antagonism Joy has faced was used as a tool to erase voices challenging power.”
Karega said that while she was initially willing to return to Oberlin, she might reconsider given how the College has treated her.
“I cannot accept being subjected to arbitrary standards and differential treatment,” Karega said. “I cannot accept the way that I have been treated as a Black woman on Oberlin’s faculty. That is another reason why the review process has stalled. I am objecting to the way that I have been treated through the avenues that I have available to me. … You can disagree with the posts and still think I’m being treated this way because I am a Black woman.”
Karega also framed the issue around the concept of academic freedom….
Karega also posted on Facebook on September 20 (emphasis added):
I’m on a Facebook sabbatical. I just needed a break from the constant daily messages (good and bad) in my messages inbox. I’ve got 2 writing projects that are requiring all my attention right now. And of course, I’m dealing with this situation with the College. But I had to post this statement written by Oberlin’s Student Senate in consultation with Oberlin’s ABUSUA, Students For A Free Palestine, and J Street U. Great statement. Much love and gratitude for the words here — on a personal level AND because the statement just touches on so many issues that MUST be explored and vocalized. Bravo to the students for taking that on. 🙂
No matter what is going on between me and the College, I will always love Oberlin students. I MUST defend my rights and challenge the assaults on those rights. I’m glad I’m not standing alone, as the outpouring of support from all over has shown me. But even if I had to stand alone, I would. Because what has happened to me at Oberlin is unfair and wrong. Period. And anyone who can see my case for what it is, in truth and clarity, can see that. I CANNOT accept in any way, shape, or form second-class citizenship. I believe in fairness, academic freedom, Freedom of Speech, all that. I believe that the college/university should be a place where the most conservative AND radical faculty, staff, and students can exist and have a sense of belonging. Also, I am NOT someone who can accept arbitrary standards being applied to anyone or any group. I CANNOT accept differential treatment of anyone or any group as something some folks just have to put up with and deal with. I CANNOT accept any of those things.
No matter how my situation at Oberlin is resolved, I hope the students know that my problem has never been and will never be with them. Oberlin students were the driving factor that solidified my decision to come to Oberlin two years ago. And I had other offers. Good ones. I turned those down to come to Oberlin. And the students were a major part of that decision.
Despite the difficulties I am experiencing right now at Oberlin, despite the anger and disappointment I feel that stays with me daily, when I read statements such as this, I am reminded of why I wanted to come to Oberlin in the first place.
Injecting race into the review process is a strategic move likely to gain Karega even more student support.
The Karega review process seems on target to be the next big thing at Oberlin, with all the elements that have been percolating on campus for several years: Antisemitism, anti-Zionism, Black Lives Matter and charges of racial discrimination.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.