Commentary: What is academic? What is freedom?

Andrew Cole

White supremacy is literally wrong, a set of falsehoods about the inherent worth of Black people and other communities of color. It is a gross and willful misunderstanding of human history and culture. It is violent. It is deadly. When white supremacy masquerades as research and scholarship, it looks like eugenics, like phrenology, like the Tuskegee Study, like intelligence tests, like the Bell Curve, like the Troublesome Inheritance, like any number of white-washing histories of civilization, philosophy, religion, and literature that falsify arguments to the detriment of nonwhites. When these false premises are used to support or justify the discrimination against, or withholding of opportunities from, nonwhites, they become elements of a system of active injustice. Yet time and again whenever white supremacy is challenged, or whenever white privilege (which is a subtler form of white supremacy) is questioned, people suddenly start talking about academic freedom.