“You have to mention the words in order to explain why they are racist and should not be used. Some students are confused about what counts as racism. And some are more concerned about being offended than learning about the logic and science of language.”
Professor J. Angelo Corlett has been suspended by San Diego State University after a student complained about racial epithets used in one of his classes.
Corlett, who is Latino, did not just randomly use the language in question. The words were on a slide because the class was about race.
The San Diego Union-Tribune reported:
Corlett told The San Diego Union-Tribune he used an informational slide in both classes that listed 10 to 12 epithets that have been used against Black, Hispanic, Latino, Asian and White people.
“You have to mention the words in order to explain why they are racist and should not be used,” said Corlett, a 63-year-old Latino. “Some students are confused about what counts as racism. And some are more concerned about being offended than learning about the logic and science of language.”
On March 1, an unidentified Black student, who was not registered in Corlett’s critical thinking course, stopped by and repeatedly challenged Corlett’s mention of epithets, particularly one regarded as the most offensive slur against Black people. Corlett said he responded to the visitor, in part, by verbally mentioning epithets to illustrate the nature of the lesson. He claims that he did not encourage his students to do the same.
Later that day, Corlett was notified by the university that he would not be teaching the two courses for the rest of the spring semester. He is still teaching a course on political philosophy…
Corlett says that he has used this teaching technique at SDSU for about 20 years and notes that he has written widely on the subject, including publishing the book “Race, Racism & Reparations.”
The Academic Freedom Alliance has sent a letter to the school in Corlett’s defense:
The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) sent a letter to San Diego State University over its suspension of Professor J. Angelo Corlett for mentioning racial epithets in a class on race. According to published reports, Professor Corlett showed a slide in his class on Philosophy, Racism and Justice and his class on Critical Thinking and Composition that listed racial epithets. On March 1, the university suspended Professor Corlett from teaching both classes based on student complaints.
“You are quoted as saying that your removal of Professor Corlett’s from his courses because of how he taught his courses is ‘not about free expression or academic freedom,’” wrote Keith Whittington, chair of the AFA’s academic committee, in the letter to J. Luke Wood, Vice President for Student Affairs and Campus Diversity at SDU. “I write on behalf of the Academic Freedom Alliance to express our firm view that these disciplinary actions directed toward Professor Corlett are an egregious violation of his academic freedom.”
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