Process of Inquiry

“Jim Crow” Racism at URI

Diversity Think Tank Founder, Professor Louis Fosu, teaches or has taught Constitutional Law, U.S. Supreme Court, Ethics, Leadership, Nonprofit Management, Economics and Nonviolence Advocacy for a more Equitable Society. He began asking uncomfortable questions at the University of Rhode Island after realizing that he was the one and only identifiable Black/African-American professor at New Faculty Orientation programs the year he was hired at URI.  When he inquired from multiple administrators about the dearth of Black/African-American professors, he was consistently told that Blacks are hired but they do not want to stay.

However, that was far from the truth because who would not want to live in a state with an effective, sensible governor, clean air, beautiful beaches, a beautiful campus, polite citizens and very low COVID rates? Even a long-time NYC & DC urbanite like Louis Fosu — who still cannot drive a car –absolutely loves Rhode Island and its kind conscientious citizens who came out in large numbers to show a full and impressive support for Black Lives Matter demonstrations when George Floyd was murdered in cold blood by a White police officer. Fosu was deeply moved to see generations of White families in Rhode Island with their young children and with their babies in baby stroller carriages marching for George Floyd’s justice in Providence, Rhode Island and a Governor who responded with empathy and kindness.

African-Americans with Lineage to Slavery Not Hired

Therefore, Professor Fosu knows this issue is not about people in Rhode Island being racist per se. Rather, racism at URI and Rhode Island is structural and reinforced by a system of selection practices and procedures that are diligently maintained and defensively guarded by a URI leadership. Green Hall houses URI’s senior leadership where the President and the Provost and his all-White leadership team of Vice Provosts are also housed. Their all-White Vice Presidents in the leadership team are strewn across campus. Not a single African-American with a lineage to slavery has been hired in a position of senior leadership at the University of Rhode Island since it was founded in 1892.  This makes URI ground zero for structural racism in America and a window into the machinations and the structural manifestation of the subtle and tactful evolution of Jim Crow racism in America. Professor Louis Fosu describes his observations at URI as living in a time warp. As in Selma, Alabama during the 50s, White administrators smile kindly and dole out favors to Black professors who know their place and support URI’s structurally racist system of discriminatory hiring and firing practices (African-Americans in senior leadership are represented at Zero percent).

Additionally, with no Black/African-American students in his Leadership and Honors Program classes when he began teaching in the 2018 academic year, Prof. Fosu began seeking Black and Latino students directly through word-of-mouth and various students organizations to join his classes (examples of advocacy projects undertaken by Prof. Fosu’s brilliant students at the University:

Furthermore, those inequitable and racist practices at URI are condoned and implicitly sanctioned by a state whose name—State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations—is the embodiment of structural racism. Some in the state do not find anything deeply inhumane and offensive about the name State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. In fact, the Speaker of the House, Representative Nicholas Mattiello publicly doubted the existence of slavery in Rhode Island, while speaking from our state capital, home to the merchant slave traders of the John Brown family of Providence and their immense wealth exploited from the blood and death of slaves.

Jorge Elorza, the Mayor of Providence and Gina Marie Raimondo, the Governor of Rhode Island only recently eliminated use of ‘…and Providence Plantations’ by Executive order after the murder of George Floyd.

De facto Jim Crow ban on hiring Erudite African-Americans

In similar fashion, the President of the University of Rhode Island, Dr. David Dooley, can end the de facto Jim Crow ban on hiring African-Americans with a lineage to slavery in foremost leadership positions at URI. This systemic racist policy has been maintained at URI since its founding in 1892—that was four years before one of the most racist Supreme Court decisions in U.S. history–Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896.  Dr. John McCray is the only African-American with a lineage to slavery who came close to a significant leadership position at URI in the 128 years since Plessy. However, Dr. McCray was furtively removed from his position for supporting diversity and inclusion at URI. The University of Rhode Island is at the apogee of structural racism in America, and racism at URI shall be uprooted and cast away with its deep-seated and unconscious hatred of African-Americans. Enough.