None Dare Call This Institutional Racism

Here’s how the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement web page defines institutional racism (my boldface):

Institutional racism is distinguished from the explicit attitudes or racial bias of individuals by the existence of systematic policies or laws and practices that provide differential access to goods, services and opportunities of society by race. Institutional racism results in data showing racial gaps across every system. …”

I presume by “opportunities of society,” JMU includes access to jobs. Now, let’s look at the faculty employment patterns at JMU, as detailed in JMU’s 2019 Fact Book (showing percentage of each race/ethnicity in Virginia’s population in parentheses).

Instructional faculty
White — 79.3% (61.2%)
Asian — 5.5% (6.9%)
Hispanic — 3.0% (9,8%)
Black — 3.0% (19.9%)
The percentage of blacks and Hispanics in the JMU faculty is way below that of black and Hispanic percentages in Virginia’s population. This is as clear an example of institutional racism as one can find. Perhaps one reason faculty members perceive so much institutional racism in society at large is because they are so immersed in a system that, by their own definition, is the textbook definition of institutional racism. Seeing it up close and all around them, they assume it’s everywhere.

I don’t know what percentage of JMU faculty members also happen to vote Democrat or champion liberal and progressive causes, but it seems safe to say that many faculty members are political progressives who embrace social justice dogma.

To borrow a quote from a fellow who was considered quite the social progressive in his day:

 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye?

Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye.

In more contemporary language: Give us a break. Clean your own house before you lecture others about their’s. Maybe the dynamics at work are more complex and nuanced and intractable than commonly acknowledged. Or consider this: Maybe your definition of “institutional racism” is fundamentally flawed.


The JMU Factbook also provides these numbers for administrative and professional staff:

White — 52.0% (69.4%)
Asian —  5.5% (6.9%)
Hispanic —  31.4% (9.8%)
Black —  1.9% (19.9%)

I wonder what the Hispanic percentage would look like if those performing landscaping, janitorial, and other menial jobs were excluded.

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17 responses to “None Dare Call This Institutional Racism”

  1. UpAgnstTheWall Avatar

    If JMU tried to institute any meaningful, systemic way to address what is a large, systemic problem at the low end of the spectrum you and others on this blog would scream about the evils of racial preferences and at the high end of the spectrum they’d open themselves up to lawsuits. So to talk about it makes them hypocrites (in theory) and to do something about it makes their actions either immoral (in theory) or illegal.

    You’ve made it pretty clear that you just want all this talk of racism to stop, but I wish you’d stop pretending there was anything other than that these institutions could do that you’d find satisfactory. Just say “people should stop talking about this” and move on. It would at least be more honest.

    I’m not on Facebook so I have no way of confirming your numbers, but I’m skeptical landscaping and janitorial work (which tends to be contracted out anyway) falls under the umbrella of Administrative and Professional Staff. The more likely scenario is that in a city that’s 19 percent Latinx those folks are overrepresented in receptionists and administrative assistants positions, but I’m willing to have you prove that assumption wrong.

    1. I’m pointing out JMU’s hypocrisy in the hope of encouraging a little introspection and consideration of the idea that disparities do no necessarily = racism.

      As for my references to Hispanics and landscaping/janitorial work, that was just a question, not a hypothesis much less an assertion. You may be right. But you can bet that most of the positions, whether blue collar or pink collar, are at the lower end of the wage scale.

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        Their hypocrisy? Or your failure to understand resources? See below.

  2. He said Factbook, no Facebook. It would be on the JMU website.

  3. The other laughable aspect of college campuses is the wide spread and thorough support for socialism among both faculty and students [the ‘haves’ giving up some of what they have to help the ‘have nots’]…..

    ….until you ask them to practice it.

    I like to ask students: ‘Who are ‘socialists’ or believe in socialism?’ and to raise their hands. I tell them that I will take all their grades — add them together, and provide everyone with the average. Thus the ‘haves’ [those with an ‘A’] will help the ‘have nots’ [those with a C or lower].

    Few take me up on the offer…… socialism dies when its proponents have to actually give up something tangle they possess to others who didn’t earn it. BIG SURPRISE.

    And…. NO professor who supports socialism practices it in the gradebook! I ask that question too.

  4. Tom Banford Avatar
    Tom Banford

    Are you going to provide evidence of systematic policies, laws, and practices at JMU as cited in the definition? Instead you once again are merely relying on the unequal outcomes.

    1. I’m not saying that I advocate using JMU’s definition. (I don’t.) I’m just using JMU’s own self-proclaimed standard. There is no need to identify actual policies, practices, or even intent.

  5. Peter Galuszka Avatar
    Peter Galuszka

    These posts are getting awfully stale. Socialists, Hypocrites, progressives, oh my!

  6. Tom Banford Avatar
    Tom Banford

    The JMU definition indicates that the outcomes follow from the policies and practices but does not indicate that the converse is the case. Such outcomes may in many instances arise from factors that are not a result of institutional racism.

  7. James Wyatt Whitehead V Avatar
    James Wyatt Whitehead V

    Impending budget cuts and low enrollment will certainly shape the “opportunities of society” metric at JMU. When the cuts have to be made who determines the socially just manner to do so and how?

  8. Nancy_Naive Avatar


  9. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    To be fair, you should include the percentages of Ph.D. or Masters held by each race. You cannot make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.

    There are several links to various graphs; this one includes two academic years.

    Hopefully, that publishes the 2018 year which shows about 180,000 degrees conferred with blacks and Hispanics getting less than 9%. Given the nature of competition, it would be tough to have 20% of your faculty drawn from a population that has fewer than 10% available candidates.

    1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

      BTW, as an aside, fewer than 2000 new math Ph.Ds in 2014 from 315 institutions. JMU has to complete with places like the NSA and several thousand DoD contractors… and 314 other institutions.

      I would imagine that offering a 6-year non-tenure track contract with State restricted pay scales probably puts JMU at a severe disadvantage when it comes to hiring one of the approximately 160 black or Hispanic mathematicians. Wouldn’t you agree?

      1. Haha! Sounding like a conservative again. Good for you!

        My job here is done.

    2. Aha! Now you’re sounding like a conservative. As it happens, I totally agree with you on this point. Indeed, I have made the very same argument and quoted very similar statistics. I hope your logic prevails.

      1. Nancy_Naive Avatar

        Don’t get too excited. What I am saying is that it is absurd to compare the diversity of a college faculty to a State’s demographics because of the requirement to hire from yet a different population. In fact, the absurdity goes even further when you neglect subject matter.

        Now, on the other hand, if that same college student body doesn’t reflect — at least with its in-state students — the State demographics, which of course feeds into the faculty population, then you have a problem, which of course, starts in K-12.

        Finally, even if all else were uniformly fair, you then have to consider CHOICE. Intuitively, I might believe that race, and racism and sexism and societal pressure plays into the student’s choice of academic endeavor. I can as easily see that a black student MAY be more inclined to enter a field that benefits the black community in general, e.g., medicine vs. mathematics. Or how a woman could be steered from one field, i.e., “women don’t do mathematics and engineering as well as a man.” That’s a systemic sexism example. It used to exist; less so today.

        These are the problems that first must be fixed, and based on recent demographics in subject, that last one is reaching parity, albeit women are disproportionately entering CompSci over, say, EE.

  10. Nancy_Naive Avatar

    “I wonder what the Hispanic percentage would look like if those performing landscaping, janitorial, and other menial jobs were excluded.”

    Wow! A new candidate for the “Is it racist” game.

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