HBCU Being Sued for Discrimination By White, Gay Faculty Members (And I Believe ‘Em)


*Two faculty members at the historically black Alabama State University (ASU) have filed a lawsuit against the school alleging they are victims of racial discrimination.

Confused? If you are its probably because your first thought might be the assumption that they are African American. They’re not.

They are Caucasian, and gay.

Drs. Steven B. Chesbro and John Garland brought the suit against the university and alleges bias in the school’s hiring and admission practices.

Making matters even more complicated, the two ASU faculty members also happen to be in a relationship.

The men believe they have been retaliated against for speaking up against the university’s [alleged] practice of using race as an important factor for admission of students and the hiring of professors, according to USA Today. They claim in the lawsuit that many white professors have complained about this form of racial discrimination, but Alabama State chose not to do anything about it.

Chesbro serves as the only non-black dean at the school, while Garland is employed as a professor.

The suit, filed in Montgomery U.S. District Court, alleges that their sexual orientation is being used against them, by the schools’ passing of regulations not favorable to gay couples.

Not surprisingly, an attorney for ASU, Bobby Segall, dismissed the allegations leveled against the school, saying the factors of race or sexual orientation had nothing to do with the employment status of the professors. Segall says he believes the lawsuit is instead aimed at the professors’ fellow faculty members that they may have had issues with.

“I think maybe one or more of those folks had a squabble with some of their faculty members, but Alabama State University did not engage in any discrimination as alleged in their complaints,” the ASU attorney said.

But Wayne Sabel, Chesbro and Garland’s attorney, disagrees.

“They have told Dr. Chesbro that his hands are tied in the face of gross insubordination and even threats of physical harm,” said Sabel.

Sabel claims his clients were told by ASU that black students should be taught only by black professors and argues in addition, that his clients were being treated differently from their straight, black counterparts at the school.

Sabel even believes there is clearly an ‘ongoing campaign’ to force out not only the two white professors from the university, but also to remove other longtime faculty members who are white.

This does cause one to wonder, if this was the plan all along why go through the process of hiring them at all?

QUESTION & OPINION FROM THE WRITER: Is it really impossible to believe this could have happened to these faculty members? I’m going to give my opinion and say “No. It’s not far-fetched”. Blacks complain about this issue in universities that don’t cater to an African-American population. So why would it be improbably for this to happen in a university that does cater to us? And hello, it is no surprise that the black community is, for the most part, homophobic. It wouldn’t take a strtch of the imagination to see these two gay professionals sitting in a cafeteria, in conversation, and somebody makes the statement that “Black students should be taught by black professors.” Statements such as this is not unlike what you would hear in ANY university–from ANY individual.

I also don’t throw away the thinking that the issues these two men are alleging may be because of problems with individual faculty members and staff; not necessarily the university as a whole.

Let’s face it, while the things that have been done to black people historically does not make it sensible for African Americans to be “racist” it does not mean that we can’t be “prejudiced.”

Readers weigh in on the “ThisNthat Comments” section (Not EURweb) below.



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