Category Archives: Race, Equity and Diversity

Healing By Highlighting Racism, Trauma and White Supremacy

February is Black History Month, and to celebrate, UVA Health has organized  activities around the theme, “Racial Healing: The Heart of Racial Equity.”

Racial healing activities include:

  • Kultivate Connection. An emotional wellness break and space facilitating racial healing through a connection with colleagues, shared experiences, and cultivation of authenticity and kinship.
  • DEI Book of the Month Discussion. “The Racial Healing Handbook: Practical Activities to Help You Challenge Privilege, Confront Systemic Racism, and Engage in Collective Healing.”
  • Guest speaker: Jodie Geddes, co-author of “The Little Book of Racial Healing: Coming to the Table for Truthtelling, Liberation, and Transformation.”
  • Guest speaker: Dr. Michael McCreary, president of the New Brunswick Theological Seminary, on “Trauma and Race: a Path to Wellbeing.” The topic covers “trauma-informed counseling for racially traumatized African (Black), Latino/a/x, Asian, and Native (Indigenous) Americans (ALANAs).”
  • Guest speaker. “My Story, My Voice,” featuring Gene Cash, executive director of the Counseling Alliance of Virginia, on racial awareness and sensitivity.

To do his bit to bring about racial healing, Mr. Cash addressed the topic of White Supremacy. In the clip atop this post, he asks participants if they can name the tenets of White Supremacy. He draws mostly blanks, although one lady hesitantly suggests that “perfectionism” is such a tenet. Cash agrees, describing perfectionism as a tool for White control, rule, and the disregarding of “Black and Brown spaces, transactions and interactions.” He goes on to discuss the horrors of slavery and lynching.


Great and Good in Action: Counseling for Racial Trauma

by James A. Bacon

President Jim Ryan has rebranded the University of Virginia as “Great and Good.” Great stands for academic excellence which, despite rampant grade inflation, UVA purportedly stands for. Good stands for social justice with a bit of environmental sustainability thrown in. Not only has UVA become a center for the formulation of ever more exotic forms of thinking about intersectional oppression, it is exporting its insights to the community at large.

As we come across examples of Great and Good in action, we will highlight the force that UVA exerts upon the community around it. The Facebook post shown above describes how the Counseling Alliance of Virginia (CAV) partners with UVA’s Federal and Employee Assistance Program (FEAP) to advance FEAP’s work to “enhance racial awareness and sensitivity.”

FEAP, we are told, has expanded its services to include not only UVA but 35 organizations in Charlottesville. Continue reading

“Enacting Racial Change by Design”

by James A. Bacon

The backlash against Diversity, Equity & Inclusion in higher-ed and the corporate world may be gathering momentum across the country, but the University of Virginia is rolling out a new DEI initiative oblivious to the shift in the national mood.

UVA’s College of Arts & Sciences has launched a program this semester entitled, “Enacting Racial Change by Design.” Participating faculty will discuss chapters from the book, “From Equity Talk to Equity Walk” to deepen understanding of “systematic racial inequity in higher education.” Participants will be able to apply for $1,000 grants to implement DEI-related projects.

The rhetoric of the memo announcing the initiative is disconnected from the national conversation now underway. The program shows not the slightest inkling that critics of DEI need be acknowledged much less engaged in dialogue. U.S. Supreme Court ruling on race in admissions? Resignation of the presidents of Harvard and the University of Pennsylvania? Helloooo? Anyone home?

This is what happens when an academic elite is captive to DEI dogma and there is not enough diversity of thought for anyone to push back.

Here follows the memo. Continue reading

UVA Needs an Antisemitism Task Force, Not a Religious Diversity Task Force

We publish here a January 5 letter from 29 parents of Jewish students at the University of Virginia to Provost Ian Baucom followed by his response. — JAB

Dear Provost Baucom,

In light of the 337% increase in antisemitism in the United States since October 7, 2023, numerous universities have formed dedicated antisemitism task forces to reduce antisemitism on their campuses. For example, Harvard, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Indiana University and University of Maryland have all established task forces or committees to combat antisemitism. NYU created a Center for the Study of Antisemitism. Those institutions join other universities that already had programs in place to address antisemitism.

Given those initiatives at other universities, and the rise of unaddressed antisemitic acts on Grounds, we were initially relieved to hear that UVA had likewise created a task force to address the current campus climate. We are disappointed to learn, however, that the focus of the task force is not aimed at addressing antisemitism but rather to “examine religious diversity and belonging.” The announcement of the initiative included a vague acknowledgement of Jewish hate on Grounds. It did not state that an objective of the initiative is rooting out antisemitism at UVA. Even worse, the entity states it will not have any recommendations until the end of the academic year. There is pervasive antisemitism on Grounds now; therefore, recommended actions are needed now. Continue reading

A Hostile Environment for Jews

by James A. Bacon

Matan Goldstein is a rarity at the University of Virginia — a Jewish student unafraid to openly defend Israel in its war with Hamas and oppose Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), a pro-Palestinian group that praised Hamas’ October 7 terror attacks on Israeli citizens. The Israeli student has appeared on local talk radio and published an op-ed in the local newspaper. He wears a kippah, openly identifying himself as a Jew, and he was one of the two students who waved an Israeli flag on the steps of the Rotunda during an SJP rally. 

Goldstein, who was drawn to UVa by its classics program, was surprised upon coming to Charlottesville by the prevalence of antisemitism and the impotent handwringing of the UVa administration in dealing with it. University officials have declined to criticize the eliminationist rhetoric of pro-Palestinian students and faculty. Instead, the University has created a religious diversity task force to investigate discrimination against Jews… and Muslims… and other religions. Two of the eleven task-force members had signed a faculty letter faulting Ryan for his failure to sufficiently acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinians.

Goldstein’s account is echoed by other members of UVa’s Jewish community contacted by The Jefferson Council, although he was the only one willing to speak on the record. A law school student spoke off the record, while parents, alumni, a professor and a rabbi conveyed the sentiments of many other Jewish students whom I was unable to contact for first-hand accounts. Jewish students are so reticent to speak publicly that the signatories to a letter in The Cavalier Daily identified themselves only as “a group of Jewish students.”

During his first-year orientation in September, Goldstein participated in a group discussion in which students told others about themselves. He mentioned that he was Israeli. A classmate, a student from Egypt, spoke up. He said he was angry at the Jewish state and the Israeli Defense Force. He thought Abdul Gamal Nasser, an Egyptian dictator who sought to destroy Israel in the Six Day War, was a hero. “He said we could never be friends.” Continue reading

How Unbiased Is UVa’s Religious-Diversity Task Force?

by James A. Bacon

The University of Virginia task forced assigned the job of ensuring that UVa is “welcoming” to all religions includes two faculty members who signed an open letter criticizing UVa President Jim Ryan for failing after the October 7 terrorist rampage afflicted upon Israel to acknowledge the suffering of the Palestinian people.

Ryan denounced Hamas terrorism but declined to take sides in the ongoing conflict between Palestinians and Jews. The task force’s aim, according to the announcement in UVa Today, “will be to understand how Jewish and Muslim students, faculty and staff, as well as those of other religious backgrounds, experience life on Grounds.”

“We want every student, faculty member and staff member to understand that they are a vital part of this place and how profoundly they enrich our common life as we take on that fundamental work of the University,” Ryan said.

The task force is headed by College of Arts & Sciences Dean Christa Acampora. She will be supported by 10 faculty, staff, students, and other members of the UVa community. Christians, Muslims and Jews are all represented. A challenge will be keeping the focus on how Jewish and Muslim students are experiencing UVa without getting infected by the emotional debate over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that gave rise to the task force. Continue reading

How “Diverse” Is the Religious Diversity Task Force?

by James A. Bacon

A newly appointed Task Force on Religious Diversity and Belonging will have the mission of ensuring that UVA is “welcoming to students, faculty and staff across the full spectrum of religions and cultures,” the Ryan administration said Wednesday.

“The group will explore opportunities for meaningful engagement across religious differences and examine the scope of UVA’s educational offerings related to religious cultures and histories, including histories of religious discrimination,” the announcement stated.

“We want every student, faculty member and staff member to understand that they are a vital part of this place and how profoundly they enrich our common life as we take on that fundamental work of the University,” Provost Ian Baucom said.

The initiative comes against a backdrop of the Hamas-Israel war and increasing tension between Muslim and Jewish students nationally. The Students for Justice in Palestine at UVa praised the Hamas Oct. 7 terror attacks on Israel as justified resistance to Israeli oppression. Although there have been no documented instances of physical violence against Jews on the Grounds beyond some pushing and shoving, many Jewish students say they have been subjected to ethnic slurs that would never be tolerated for protected minorities, and they are afraid to speak out about the conflict. Continue reading

Now UVa Has a Religious Diversity Task Force

As tensions escalate between Muslims and Jews across the United States, the Ryan administration has announced the creation of a Task Force on Religious Diversity and Belonging at the University of Virginia.

“The ongoing conflict in the Middle East has affected all of us,” Provost Ian Baucom told the Board of Visitors Thursday. The goal is to support free speech at UVa while ensuring that “religious minorities” — he pointedly specified Muslims and Jews — feel like they belong, he said.

Referring to UVa’s “unwavering commitment to be a diverse and inclusive university,” Baucom said “that work began this week and will continue this year.”

Kevin McDonald, UVa’s vice president for diversity, equity & inclusion, and interim senior associate vice president of student affairs Cedric Rucker are “meeting with and breaking bread with our Jewish and Muslim students,” Baucom said.

The announcement follows two large rallies at UVa by Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) in support of the October 7 terrorist attacks on Israel. Pro-Palestinian students have chanted, “Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea,” which Israel sympathizers interpret as demanding the dissolution of the Israeli state. Continue reading

Race, Disparities, and Reality

Heather Mac Donald

by James A. Bacon

Statistical disparities between Whites, Blacks, Hispanics and Asians are at the root of the debate about race in America today. Other than a few powerless voices on the fringe of society, no one questions that racism is evil. With no one admitting to being racist, leftists have redefined racism. One strain of thought asserts that many White Americans are unconsciously biased, which affects their behavior in subtle yet malign ways. Another strand insists that America’s institutions are racist, which means that racism supposedly abounds even in the absence of discernible bias. The evidence for such propositions supposedly can be found in the wide differences between Whites and Blacks in income, education, health and other metrics of wellbeing. The existence of such disparities is proffered as proof of systemic bias and/or ineradicable flaws in our institutions.

The effect of this line of thinking is pernicious in so many ways. Perhaps the most devastating to American society and to allegedly marginalized minorities themselves is the corrosive impact it has on standards of merit and excellence.

Heather Mac Donald, a Manhattan Institute fellow, is perhaps best known for her takedown of racialist thinking on crime. But she has written extensively about the perils of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion as well. And in her most recent book, “When Race Trumps Merit: How the Pursuit of Equity Sacrifices Excellence, Destroys Beauty, and Threatens Lives,” she explores how a monomaniacal focus on statistical disparities corrupts science, the arts, and public policy.

In an event co-sponsored by The Jefferson Council, Mac Donald will address the University of Virginia community 7:00 p.m. Nov. 9 in Charlottesville on the topic, “DEI and the Death of Merit.” You can register here. Continue reading

Crime and Punishment in Charlottesville

by James C. Sherlock

UVa and Harvard are the two campuses most often cited by the national and world press as homes to the worst actors after October 7.

It is easy work.

I posted a column on Saturday making a series of recommendations for actions by the University of Virginia to protect its Jewish community and rid itself of those that threaten it.

That was my response to the infamous support of UVa-funded organizations for the slaughter of innocents in Israel by Hamas, a group designated by the United States as a terrorist organization.

Kill Jews “by any means necessary” they wrote.

Read the column. I named them.

Now I have been told by the Executive Director of Hillel at UVa, Rabbi Jake Rubin, that the President’s office and local law enforcement “have been incredibly responsive, helpful, and present during this difficult time.”

Good start, and Virginians thank them for it, but it does not answer the questions about enforcement of state and federal laws.

So, there is more to do. Continue reading