It’s no secret how politicized the UNC Board of Governors and Board Trustees have become, populated by a two-thirds majority of lickspittles, brazen operatives, donor-class imbeciles and wealthy insurrectionists who share a deep disconnect to actual university life and those who live it.
Remember, these are the folks who tried to give $2.5 million to the confederate organization that tried to protect the statue of Silent Sam on the UNC-Chapel Hill campus, a deal so shady it was vacated in court.
But in their treatment of Nikole Hannah-Jones, they have proven that their interests lie in direct opposition to the UNC System in general, and Chapel Hill in particular.
Hannah-Jones, you recall, is the most important journalist working today: a creator of the NY Times 1619 Project; winner of numerous journalism awards including a Peabody and a Pulitzer, as well as a MacArthur Genius Grant; a veteran reporter with decades in the business including an internship at the High Point Enterprise; an alumna of the UNC journalism school for which she won her Knight Fellowship.
But unlike every other Knight fellow, she was not awarded tenure until a vote taken by the trustees five months too late.
Instead, they bowed to pressure from Walter Hussman, a $25 million donor for whom the school is named, and to the unspoken stance of white supremacy that, make no mistake, foreshadows the death knell of this once-great university system and this once great state. They acquiesced only when confronted with their racism and ineptitude. And they absolutely blew it.
Some Black professors have since resigned their posts at UNC-Chapel Hill. And on Tuesday, Nikole Hannah-Jones became one of them. She turned down the fellowship, choosing instead to grace Howard University with her presence as a Knight Fellow, e=styablishing a journalism school at the HBCU with Ta-Nehisi Coates. Her published statement is something to behold. As usual, she says it better than any of us could:
“For too long, powerful people have expected the people they have mistreated and marginalized to sacrifice themselves to make things whole. The burden of working for racial justice is laid on the very people bearing the brunt of the injustice, and not the powerful people who maintain it. I say to you: I refuse.”
Perhaps, in the end, the dopes who hijacked the UNC System got what they wanted. And as usual, everyone else in the state loses.