From Sheets To Skulls: Faculties Facing Calls For Fundamental Changes In Academic Disciplines

There are fresh calls for basic changes in academic disciplines this month to deal with systemic racism.  In Oxford, music department staff is calling for its removal of sheet music from the institution’s curriculum as a relic of the”colonial past” The calls are suggestive of basic changes required in many of our academic disciplines. Such discussions are great for academic institutions, however, only if college and students feel comfortable in challenging these claims. On many of our campuses, there is a palpable fear about talking out at the probability of being labelled racist or insensitive on these issues.

According to The Telegraph, the proposal at Oxford would eliminate sheet music from the curriculum because such music notation has not”shaken off its link to its colonial past” and reveals complicity in”white supremacy.” They also assert that any requirements on figuring out how to conduct orchestras or playing piano serve to”structurally center white European music” and cause”students of colour great distress”
In an essay published by the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, professors Elizabeth DiGangi of Binghamton University and Jonathan Bethard of the University of South Florida employed critical race theory to challenge the very assumption of forensic anthropology that skull size and form can help trace ancestry as a Result of common traits:

“Conceptualized in reaction to entrenched racism in the Western legal system, CRT tries to address and redress systemic wrongs by illustrates how racism has become normalized within our legal and societal structures and its resultant technical consequences. The body of theory is consequently utilized as an mechanism to purge and interrogate the structures that maintain white supremacy and liberty, and as systemic, pervasive, and embedded in global institutions to include mathematics, anthropology, and the academy.”

They assert:

“along with the discussed scientific problems, the principal point isn’t whether we are knowingly or intentionally perpetuating the biological race concept, or if ancestry estimation”works,” or if researchers have established more complex methods to demonstrate it functions –the point here is that by supplying an ancestry estimate grounded in characteristics of the skull, we’re reinforcing law enforcement and the general public’s belief in the concept of race. “

I don’t agree with the challenges to sheet music and forensic anthropology, however I’d be interested in listening to this kind of disagreement. The challenge is that there is not much religion anymore concerning the capacity to debate these issues.  Even though many insist that”people need to talk about race,” academics are routinely fired and investigated after participating in these discussions. Indeed, intent frequently does not matter in using phrases contested as offensive in writings or classes.
In their column on forensic anthropology, Professors DiGangi and Jonathan Bethard note that their struggle is likely to make many uncomfortable but insists that these feelings Are Merely the deposit of racism coming ahead:

“We expect that this discussion might displease some readers and/or make them uncomfortable. The irony is this reluctance and discomfort are a part and parcel of this insidious nature of structural racism, as discussed earlier. Our white innocence allows us not to see it unless it affects us directly and therefore we refuse or deny its presence and/or importance, although it’s hiding in plain sight”

However, there is also the distress of any college which they cannot challenge such racism claims without putting their livelihood and potential academic opportunities at risk. The result is a quiet that is strengthened by canceling efforts. This statement is a great example. While saying they wish a debate, DiGangi and Bethard dismiss any expressions of distress”as a part and parcel of the nature of structural racism.” To put it differently, feel free to disagree but your objections will be treated as evidence of the grip of structural racism on you and your institution.