It has been roughly eight months since former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin murdered George Floyd. Since that time, much has changed — but much has remained the same. Following Floyd’s death, U.S. police have killed at least 11 other unarmed Black people. The global protests sparked by Floyd’s murder prompted countless business and academic institutions to release diversity and inclusion statements and promise structural change.

In the past few months, there have been positive developments. The American Physical Society (APS), for example, announced it will now review statistics on police conduct when selecting future venues for its scientific meetings to keep its members safe.

After years of lobbying and numerous studies identifying a link between racism and poor health outcomes American Health Association (AMA) acknowledged racism as a public health threat and committed “to actively work on dismantling racist policies and practices across all of health care.”


But more work needs to be done to confront and dismantle anti-Black racism, and many of the organizations that have committed to change have yet to produce clear results.

This becomes even more evident upon review of a recent job satisfaction survey by the Collaborative on Academic Careers in Higher Education (COACHE), which is based at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Enrollment in COACHE is open to all two- and four-year colleges, universities, and state systems, the COACHE website says, and the job satisfaction survey is administered once a year.

The most recent survey revealed “significant disparities” in how white and non-white faculty members perceive diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) progress on college campuses, with  73 per cent of white faculty members saying there is visible and sufficient DEI support on campus. Only 55 per cent of their Black colleagues felt the same way.

About 78 per cent of white professors feel their departments are committed to expanding DEI initiatives, while only 58 per cent of Black faculty agree.

“The surprise is how wide the gap is between white faculty who feel that their colleagues and leadership are fully in support of diversity and inclusion and Black faculty who don’t agree that their colleagues and leadership are doing what they can,”  Kiernan Mathews, director and principal investigator of COACHE, said in a statement on the Harvard Graduate School of Education website.

“These data show an 18- to 20-point difference in the percentage of white faculty and Black faculty who agree that leadership and colleagues are committed to supporting and promoting diversity on campus. It’s a stark difference in what white faculty feel to be true and what Black faculty know to be true with respect to the support and promotion of diversity.”

Matthews says it’s up to white faculty to fix systemic problems on campuses.

“It’s the white faculty — the majority faculty — who have to change the broken system they perpetuate, who have to accommodate new perspectives, and broaden their definitions of excellence,” he said.

“…The question for presidents, provost, and deans is, is your visible leadership on diversity that you are touting in the university magazine, putting on your website, showing to prospective faculty and students — is that visible leadership and diversity actually changing campus culture? Or is it just making white faculty feel better about themselves and their institutions? What the data shows is that white faculty are thinking that we’re doing great. My president says the right things, the faculty and my colleagues in the department say all the right things, but that’s not necessarily what Black faculty see … this makes the faculty who’ve benefitted from the status quo for decades very uncomfortable.”

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