“I have suffered what I can only call persecution because of my presence, my ideas, vindications and my stubborn refusal to accept racism as a ‘normal’ part of the campus experience.” Stephanie Ribeiro
In May 2014, Stephanie Ribeiro, a scholarship student at the elite Pontifical Catholic University (PUC) in Campinas (São Paulo), wrote about her experiences of racism at the University. With the help of her supporters, including Betty Martins and Sueli Feliziani we republish Steph’s story.
Campus racism in Brazil – some context
Yasmin Gunaratnam and Sueli Feliziani, with translation by Betty Martins.
Yasmin: One of the things that struck me when I read Betty’s translation of Stephanie’s story was that although I knew something about contemporary racial inequalities in Brazil, I knew very little about race and university life. Then when I started to try and find out more, I soon realised the extent to which universities have been a critical site for both policy initiatives and activism on race equality, for example with regard to affirmative action quotas. How does the Pontifical Catholic University (PUC) where Stephanie is…
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“Speaking out against a problem, we become a problem.” This sums up the last 4 years of my life in academia, but that will not stop me from speaking out against harassment and bullying.
I type the name of my professor into a search engine followed by the words “sexual harassment.” I want to see if there is any trace in the online world of what he has done over the past decade.
The first article that appears is an analysis of the ways the neoliberal university fails to attend to sexual harassment. It argues that the university fails to challenge an “institutional cultural of fear and compliance with injustice and inequality” because of a neoliberal tick-box approach to rights.
I read on. The article is an uncannily good description of what has unfolded in my department and in my personal and professional life over the past several years. The author writes:
For postgraduate students or junior academic staff (particularly when they are on short-term contracts, as is increasingly the case), there is immediately the threat to career advancement, should they ﬁle a complaint…
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- Colleges are full of it: Behind the three-decade scheme to raise tuition, bankrupt generations, and hypnotize the media: http://www.salon.com/2014/06/08/colleges_are_full_of_it_behind_the_three_decade_scheme_to_raise_tuition_bankrupt_generations_and_hypnotize_the_media/
- The Business Case for Racial Equity” quantifies the cost of racism in the U.S.: http://www.wkkf.org/resource-directory/resource/2013/10/the-business-case-for-racial-equity
- Addressing Deep and Persistent Poverty: A Framework for Philanthropic Planning and Investment: http://www.urban.org/publications/412983.html
- A Fundamental Failure of American Prisons: http://www.brennancenter.org/analysis/fundamental-failure-american-prisons
I do not write personal essays. This is the first, and likely the last, you will see.
I write articles that have resonated with millions of people, often in an emotional way. But I never write about myself or my personal life. I have multiple platforms and if I wanted to, I could. I choose not to – in part because I think focusing on myself distracts from the social and political problems I depict, but also because I value my privacy.
I am like this in “real life” too. I have been described as aloof, but I try to be generous and kind. I take care of my family and my community. I don’t care about fame, which is much more of a curse than a gift. I reject most media interviews. My priorities are my loved ones and my work. Yesterday I was reading Charlotte’s Web to my…
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