Wayne Dawkins is a writer, and a professor of professional practice at Morgan State University School of Global Journalism and Communication.

By Wayne Dawkins
Special to the AFRO

Georgetown University Law adjunct professor Sandra Sellers forgot the Zoom mic was still hot. Class was over, the students were leaving and she was bantering with a fellow White colleague. 

Sellers said she felt “angst” watching poor performing Black students in her classes, while acknowledging she had hearty numbers of solid- to high-performing Black law students. 

A student released the recording. You can imagine what happened. 

A firestorm erupted at Georgetown Law. Adjunct Sellers was fired. She worked in the basement of the academy, unlike tenured faculty, and was easily expendable. Georgetown wanted to wipe off that bad press. The colleague who listened to Sellers complaining was suspended. 

Were the words racism or racial animus? 

I wonder if the jettisoned adjunct raised valid red flags. Did those struggling Black students need institutional support more than the White professors needed diversity training? 

I ask because for many years I taught at an academically elite HBCU perceived as a “bourgie” school, yet statistically 20% of the incoming students were economically disadvantaged, according to the president. By junior/senior year most of those challenged students caught academically up with the well-heeled legacy kids. A nurturing environment boosted those disadvantaged women and men. 

At my current campus, the president asked the faculty to be mindful of “bandwidth recovery.” Not premium wi-fi, but the phenomenon that up to 25% of our students’ brainpower is spent coping with distractions and stressors away from campus, friends and family trauma, underemployment, less than ideal K-12 preparation. We’ve been pressed to work on capturing that spent brain exertion and bring it back into the classrooms. 

That talk by the way, occurred two months before we all were pushed into the pandemic abyss and engaging students became more challenging. 

So, I’m wondering, was it convenient but misguided to stomp an inelegant speaking White instructor and possibly leave a real concern unexamined?   

* * *

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, a Wisconsin Republican, unsuccessfully tried to disable the $1.9 trillion pandemic relief bill with stall tactics. He had senate aides spend 10 hours reading the 600-page document from the senate floor. The readers included staff who were traumatized when White nationalists and misguided Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6. Johnson’s tactic did not work. President Biden signed the relief package into law last March 11.

Johnson, looking to shock and provoke while looking senatorial, told a local talk show host that the rappelling, spearing mob that smashed their way into the U.S. Capitol did not scare him. He presumed they were law abiding. However, what would have scared him, and “I know I will get in trouble for saying this,” Johnson told the host, that he would have been scared had the crowd been Black Lives Matter demonstrators.

Is Johnson really trying to stoke and distract the Black anger machine? If he is, keep the powder dry folks. Save the energy for other fights. Johnson is a car wreck about to happen. During the Trump II impeachment trial Johnson read garbage into the record about imaginary left-wing extremists posing as those “law-abiding” Trump supporters who stormed the Capitol. The FBI just reported that of the 300 people they arrested, 10 percent of them were military or law enforcement. And most recently, two men have been charged with assaulting a Capitol cop on that lethal evening

Senator, does that mob still make you feel safe?

* * *

Team Biden-Harris earned a victory lap. Vaccines to defeat COVID-19 are getting into arms quicker each day and optimism grows like the spring flowers. The $1.9 trillion pandemic relief passage barely passed Congress. Biden signed the package into law. Checks, up to $1,400, should be hitting bank direct deposits and mailboxes within days. 

Congressional Republicans almost unanimously chose not to participate, even as GOP mayors and governors said the needed help from D.C., not red vs. blue state battling. 

Biden-Harris were in Georgia March 19 to sell the finished relief package. Why is that necessary? The day will be a pep rally to thank the Georgians who put Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff over the top because both men were responsible for the razor-thin win over Trumpism, which gave away two safe GOP incumbent senate seats. Thank you, Donald. 

Congressional Republicans are fuming because Biden decided not to make the mistake Barack Obama made in 2009. Obama did not sell his stimulus plan, and come the following year Democrats were “shellacked,” Obama’s words, and lost control of Congress. 

Right now, Democrats hold a thin lead in House and are deadlocked 50/50 with in the Senate. The Democrats need to expand their lead in at least one of those chambers and remind constituents that government is functioning again, and the economy is about to work for working poor and middle-income constituents. 

The GOP is betting on government dysfunction and voter suppression by 2022. Biden and Harris Friday are going to remind Georgians not to stay home come next year’s midterm elections.

The writer is a professor of professional practice at Morgan State School of Global Journalism and Communication.

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