Refined Asphyxiation of African-American Scholars

After a year of observing, gathering and analyzing information from interviews with faculty, staff and students, Prof. Fosu was able to document that African-American professors and administrators are in fact almost never hired at URI (African-American and Latino faculty are represented at 3.3% and 2.8% respectively (Dr. Harry Alston, 2020).  The most notable asphyxiation of a Black man by the senior White leadership at URI was Dr. Harry Alston, whose death as a candidate at URI was by a firm and subtle chokehold.  Professor Louis Fosu sent a letter to URI’s leadership (click to download Mary letter). After the President, Interim Chief Diversity Officer and leadership of URI received Professor Fosu’s explicit critical letter complaining about Dr. Harry Alston’s asphyxiation and death at URI as a job candidate, Professor Fosu was offered a job as an Interim Director of the Alan Shawn Feinstein College of Education and Professional Studies—which Fosu turned down diplomatically and respectfully (click to download Rolle email).

Professor Fosu observed that preeminent African-Americans who are erudite civil rights experts are targeted and deemed threats to existing structurally racist policies at URI, and they are systematically eliminated as job applicants even when they are more knowledgeable, qualified and impressively outshine all other candidates at job interviews, as were the recent cases of: Dr. Harry Alston and Dr. Sylvia Spears in 2020.

Compliant Blacks or people of color who do not have a direct lineage to slavery in America—the land of the free, like Professor Louis Kwame Fosu, will most likely get the high paying job at URI and in other American institutions, but not the brilliant scholarly African-American whose ancestors have suffered death through slavery to build this community and country.  Witnessing the Dr. Alston and Dr. Spears interview processes was an obscene display of systemic racism at URI supported by a cadre of African-Americans, who were coincidentally given promotions after their support and complicity of silence in these gut-wrenching deaths of their own.

Patterns of Corrupt Racial Discrimination

On page 10, under the heading: Current Chief Diversity Officer Interviews: Another Ineffective Corrupted Process, in this letter (click here) to URI’s leadership dated 2/13/2020, three months before the cruel murder of George Floyd by a White police officer, Prof. Louis Fosu foresaw the death of the candidacy of Dr. Sylvia Spears another brilliant and erudite African-American job candidate following on the heels of Dr. Harry Alston. In Fosu’s detailed February 13th letter condemning the racist treatment of Dr. Harry Alston, Prof. Fosu also predicted that the leadership was colluding to keep the current incompetent CDO who is ineffective at articulating and changing the structurally racist policies in place at URI that are also supported by a cadre handpicked Black and Latino professors and administrators who pretend that URI’s systemic racism is an acceptable way of life as in 1950, Selma-Alabama. Imagine Black men and women standing at the crime scene filming the murder George Floyd, but those same Black men and women refuse to provide the video evidence to the press and public; and refuse to testify as eye witnesses because they are offered job security by the city of Minneapolis.

As the Founder of The Diversity Think Tank, the message I have for students and young activists reading this is that no job or friendship is worth wrecking one’s dignity and soul—you are here on earth to be good, conscientious persons with generous spirits and souls—embrace and practice the deeper principles of Love, Tikkun Olam and Prayer as I have for 25 years and you will make truthful decisions effortlessly no matter how complicated or disappointing to others.

URI’s All-White Criminal Justice Department

Even Prof. Louis Fosu, experienced what he characterizes as the refined asphyxiation of Black intellect at URI, after he was informed by the Criminal Justice Department Chair in 2018 that there was nothing he could teach in URI’s all-white Criminal Justice Department. There was no room for Professor Fosu at the inn; his depth of knowledge and expertise was not welcome. Subsequently in 2020, Professor Fosu turned down an offer in June 2020 to teach Criminal Justice courses in the same all-white Criminal Justice department that previously denied him a position. The offer came expediently as universities and institutions were being scrutinized by the public about what more they could do to address US racism after the brutal murder of 46 year-old George Floyd, an African-American choked to death on the streets in cold blood by a White cop.

That racist murder in the streets of Minneapolis, created a national crisis that spread globally and revived the Black Lives Matter movement. Professor Louis Fosu turned down the offer because, the entire URI Criminal Justice department is the epitome of institutional and structural racism at URI and needs a complete overhaul and critical restructuring of curriculum, staff and hiring practices, and has a professor described by African-American students as, “one of the most racist professors at URI.” However, Fosu believes it is also a lack of faculty cultural sensitivity training that adds to conflict and this perception of racism by Black students. Respect is key.  Prof. Fosu’s clear vision saw his post-Floyd offer from URI to teach in the Criminal Justice Department as an unabashed attempt at political expediency, which offered URI an easy way to hide behind a veil of virtue presented to the public; thereby, avoiding the hard work of self-examination, vulnerability, and true bottom-UP/TOP-down structural change.

African-Americans lead Criminal Justice Policy

African-Americans are leaders in Criminal Justice advocacy in America, with intellectual activists, scholars and academics working on every aspect of criminal justice policy in America.  For example, professor and attorney Nkechi Taifa has led the George Soros funded Justice Roundtable in Washington, DC and for 20 years has impacted nearly every important piece of criminal justice legislation reform in America with a coalition of hundreds of African-American thinkers and people of coloran inspired group that the Founder of the Diversity Think Tank was a member of during his career in Washington, DC. Therefore, the complete exclusion of Blacks and Latinos from URI’s Criminal Justice Department faculty and URI’s leadership are horrific when considered in light of the fact that Blacks account for 13.6% of the U.S. population and the University of Rhode Island positions itself as a national flagship university.  The State of Rhode Island has oversight responsibility for the University. Locally, 29.3 percent of people incarcerated at the Adult Correctional Institution are Black.

Additionally, the Black and Brown majority in Rhode Island prisons are paid less than $3 per day to make furniture for University of Rhode Island’s dormitories and offices. (Schiff, Pam. “Correctional Industries prepares inmates for jobs.” Cranston Herald, December 4, 2014). A study commissioned by a Massachusetts supreme court judge found that the sole reason for similarly high rates of incarcerating people of color in that state, was systemic racism. People of color are over-charged, over-sentenced, and over-policed.  (Bishop, Elizabeth Tsai, et al. Racial Disparities in the Massachusetts Criminal System. Criminal Justice Policy Program – Harvard Law School. September, 2020). The immorality of a University robbing the life and labor from youth of color, while requiring them to make the very seats denied them at every level in the University, is evidence of the continuing pathological hypocrisy that is deeply rooted in the structurally racist fabric of this nation.