Black students at Pomona College demand hiring of sociologist be rescinded because she is white

According to the ethos of black students at Pomona College, one of the nation’s most competitive (and expensive) small liberal arts colleges, white people cannot legitimately study and write about black criminals. Tony Airaksinen of Campus Reform writes:

Students at Pomona College have published a demand letter urging administrators to rescind their offer to hire Sociology Professor Alice Goffman because she’s white.

The “Letter to the Pomona College Sociology Department,” published last Friday argues that by hiring Goffman, the administration has neglected their commitment to promoting diversity and supporting women of color.

“This practice is detrimental to Pomona’s goal of supporting students of color.”

The collective of “Sociology students, alumni, and allies” open their letter by expressing their “anger” and “concern” regarding Goffman’s hire, calling it a “failure” to address the lack of professors of color on campus.

Further, they argue that because the majority (56.7 percent) of students in the Sociology department are now people of color, it is problematic for the department to continue hiring white people.

Alice Goffman carries a name very famous among sociologists: her father was Erving Goffman, whose book The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life is among the most influential works sociology of the last century. She started her career with a bang, spending six years (!) in participant observation of black street gangs, resulting in a dissertation that was honored as the best of the year by the American Sociological Association, and which resulted in a book, On the Run: Fugitive Life in an American City. While she was generally sympathetic to her subjects (and could not have gained access to them otherwise), Goffman ran into a firestorm of criticism, partly because she reported unflattering things about black people, and partly because she did what was necessary to gain access, including destroying some of her notes that could have implicated some of her subjects.

Now, as a liberal highly sympathetic to black people, she is under fire as racist and disqualified from writing about her chosen subject area, simply because of her race.

As someone who studied for and earned a PhD in Sociology from Harvard (and taught it there for a year), I have largely written off the field. It is not that the study of human societies is unproductive, but because the field has become completely dominated by angry leftists.  Who, if anyone, will stand up to defend Alice Goffman? Will the American Sociological Association, utter a word in protest? If they do, it will be only after extensive discussion and dispute, I would guess. Colorblinf opportunity is now seens as controversial on the left.

Pomona is a sister college of Claremont McKenna College, where Heather Mac Donald was violently prevented from speaking, and Harvey Mudd College, the formerly highly-regarded engineering and sciences college, where black students caused classes to be cancelled by a sit-in protesting the workload they face and demanding money for pet campus race-based organizations.

Radicalism is overtaking the collection of 5 high-end campuses that comprise the Claremont Colleges. Once upon a time they were a West Coast bastion of academic excellence. The controversies cannot help persuade parents to lay out nearly $70 grand a year for a degree.

Academia is heading for its days of reckoning.