In an exclusive interview, host Emil Guillermo talks with Profs. Scott Kurashige and Emily Lawsin about their discrimination lawsuit filed against the University of Michigan.
See more on the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund blog, http://www.aaldef.org/blog
The lawsuit paints a broad picture of discrimination and exclusion at the school that Kurashige previously documented in his writing and in the media. The suit alleges his outspokenness on exposing the school’s discriminatory demographics (e.g., only 4.1 percent Black, 4.6 percent Hispanic, 0.2 percent Native American in 2015; only 4 percent of students from low-economic status in 2014) led to his termination as director of the Asian and Pacific Islander American Studies Program in 2013.
Kurashige, a tenured professor and a winner of the American Historical Association’s Beveridge Award, alleges he was blacklisted by colleagues and forced to resign in 2014.
Lawsin was also harassed for attempting to expose discriminatory practices at the school. While on protected leave to care for a baby with Down syndrome in 2015, she alleges the school began layoff proceedings that turned into a move to terminate. Lawsin has since been barred from teaching her classes for the winter 2017 semester.
Their lawyer, Alice Jennings said the university had no cause for action against Kurashige or Lawsin.
“As is usually the case where an individual is championing the rights of others and refuse to accept racial and sex discrimination aimed at them, the institutional process, by individual leaders or administrators, creates pretextual allegations against the person or community of persons to give a logic to their discriminatory or retaliatory actions,” Jennings told me.
Jennings continued: “I think what occurred with professors Kurashige and Lawsin is precisely what occurs in an academic culture that is systemically racial and sexist and geared to perform in a protect manner against people of color who will not allow themselves to be undercompensated, -evaluated or humiliated, degraded and treated with disrespect, where others — non-people of color, similarly situated are treated more favorably.”
“We will vigorously defend the university against this lawsuit,” University of Michigan spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said in media reports.
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