'Predominantly white institutions' are 'hotbeds of white supremacy,' prof warns

Amber Athey
Investigative Reporter

  • An Oklahoma State University professor says predominately white institutions (PWIs) are “hotbeds of white supremacy” and that black students must be prepared to be “treated like second-class citizens” if they attend a PWI.
  • An Oklahoma State University professor says predominately white institutions (PWIs) are “hotbeds of white supremacy” and that black students must be prepared to be “treated like second-class citizens” if they attend a PWI.

    Lawrence Ware, philosophy professor and Division of Institutional Diversity fellow at OSU, penned an op-ed for The Root outlining strategies for black students to “survive” at PWIs.

    PWIs “admit people of color” but “still have ways of not accepting them.”   

    The piece, titled “How to Survive, Be Safe, and Thrive at a Predominately White Institution,” also accuses PWIs of “admitting but not accepting” black students.

    “How does a black student circumnavigate a hotbed of white supremacy that is a contemporary college campus populated by white bodies?” Ware asks. “How can a student of color thrive at an institution that merely tolerates one’s presence? Put simply, what must a black student do to survive at a PWI?”

    Ware says the first time someone called him “the n-word” was at college, and that his peers often asked if he was a student-athlete, which he says is an indirect way of telling him, “the only way you’d be on a college campus is for your athletic prowess.”

    The op-ed also quotes Elon Dancy, professor of education and associate dean for community engagement and academic inclusion at the University of Oklahoma, who fleshes out the ways that PWIs “admit people of color” but “still have ways of not accepting them.”

    One of the measures to prevent acceptance of students of color, claims Dancy, is through the overrepresentation of white people in faculty, leadership, and the student body, which sends an implicit signal that non-whites do not belong.

    Additionally, students of color must face the “thousands of contemporary violent acts often referred to as ‘microaggressions’ that seek to keep students of color ‘in their place.’”

    While the plight of a black student in a PWI appears to be quite dire, Ware lays out several strategies for black students so they can avoid the “racism” and “emotional labor” he went through as a college freshman.

    One method of combating a “culture that discounts black brilliance,” Ware says, is for students to make a significant effort to love themselves.

    “Socially, black students are usually treated like second-class citizens when they try to hold events that express their cultural identity or raise awareness of issues they face on college campuses,” he explains. “To combat these assaults on black humanity, self-love is important.”

    While his op-ed is intended to help black students attending PWIs, Ware reiterates that “no one prepared me for the multiple assaults on my humanity that I experienced at a PWI.”

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @amber_athey





    Amber Athey

    Amber Athey

    Investigative Reporter

    Amber Athey is an Investigative Reporter for Campus Reform. She graduated from Georgetown University with a B.A. in Government and Economics, and is currently a member of the 2016-2017 Koch Associate Program. 

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