I write in response to Zenon Zawada’s excellent article “Ebony and Ivory Tower” (4/11), which explored racial tension at American University and the ugly response of the campus student newspaper to Lacrecia Cade’s bid for student government. As a 1983 graduate of AUI’m now a professor of women’s studies at George Washington UniversityI well recall the AU Eagle’s conservative stance on social issues. Zawada’s article is right on.
However, Zawada does readers (and advocates/allies for greater multiculturalism in academia) a disservice by defining American University as “a university that lacks a black studies program but boasts a Jewish studies program.” This merely fans the flames of black-Jewish conflict, and places the two fields of study in absurd competition. It is also an unfair construction for D.C.’s black Jews, who, in my years at AU, brought critical perspectives and insights to the Judaica program.
AU has a very high undergraduate enrollment of Jewish students. Its Jewish Studies program offers the opportunity for in-depth study of anti-Semitism in world history, and issues of women in religion. I certainly chose to attend AU because of my intention to pursue its unique Jewish Studies major, and today I am the author of several works on Jewish women’s history in America.
Jews, too, go our entire lives without hearing squat about our history in K-12 education, and the existence of a college Jewish Studies program to feed that hunger is a multiculturalismone that can coexist in solidarity alongside the push for better black studies curricula.
George Washington University
via the Internet