Apartheid of Knowledge Discussion Questions

Handout questions from July 18, 2008 CRT.

Delgado Bernal, D. & Villalpando, O. (2002). An apartheid of knowledge in academia: The struggle over the “legitimate” knowledge of faculty of color. Equity & Excellence in Education, 35(2), 169-180.

  1. What do Delgado Bernal & Villapando mean by the phrase “Apartheid of Knowedge”?

    We believe that an “apartheid of knowledge’’ (Villalpando & Delgado Bernal, 2002) is sustained by an epistemological racism that limits the range of possible epistemologies
    considered legitimate within the mainstream research community (Scheurich & Young, 1997).

    Too frequently, an epistemology based on the social history and culture of the dominant race has produced scholarship which portrays people of color as deficient and judges the
    scholarship produced by scholars of color as biased and nonrigorous. (p. 169)

  2. What is considered “legitimate” knowledge? In what ways is it established?
    The University as an institution is a key arena where “legitimate’’ knowledge is established. While discourses of power may have qualities of constraint and repression, they are not, nor have they ever been, uncontested. Indeed, the process of determining what is “legitimate knowledge’’ and for what purpose that knowledge should be produced is a political debate that rages in the University. (p. 169)
  3. Explain “de facto” racial segregation.
    Despite an official end to de jure racial segregation and the current discourse surrounding integration and equality in education, higher education continues to reflect a state of de facto racial and gender segregation. Faculty of color are stratified along institutional type, academic ranks, and departments. In this section, we review national trend data to illustrate the de facto segregation of faculty of color. (p. 170)

    The representation of faculty of color across all institutions, academic ranks, and departments has remained relatively unchanged since the early 1970s, resulting in
    our current de facto segregation in higher education. We contend that our under-representation and disproportionate stratification in academia also isolates our contributions and scholarship, rendering our knowledge to the margins.

  4. Explain what authors mean they refer to “a dominant Eurocentric epistemological perspective”. How does this perspective affect faculty of color?
    Higher education in the United States is founded on a Eurocentric epistemological perspective based on white privilege and “American democratic’’ ideals of meritocracy,
    objectivity, and individuality. This epistemological perspective presumes that there is only onewayof knowing and understanding the world, and it is the natural way of interpreting truth, knowledge, and reality. (p. 171)

    A Eurocentric epistemological perspective can subtly —and not so subtly— ignore and discredit the ways of knowing and understanding the world that faculty of color often bring to academia. Indeed, this Eurocentric epistemological perspective creates racialized double
    standards that contribute to an apartheid of knowledge separating from mainstream scholarship the type of research and teaching that faculty of color often produce (Villalpando & Delgado Bernal, 2002). This apartheid of knowledge goes beyond the high value society places on the positivist tradition of the “hard sciences’’ and the low regard for the social sciences; it ignores and discredits the epistemologies of faculty of color. (p. 171)

  5. Briefly review the majoritarian story in this article. In what ways does this scripted view impact the success of faculty of colour?
    The storytelling method enables us to challenge reality by offering one story that includes both the stock story from a majoritarian perspective and a counterstory from a non-majoritarian perspective (Delgado, 1989). A “story’’can refer to a majoritarian story or a counterstory; it becomes a counterstory when it incorporates elements of critical race theory (Solorzano & Yosso, 2002). (p. 172)

    In other words, a counterstory counters a set of unexamined assumptions made by the dominant culture. The first part of our story, the majoritarian story, is from the perspective of white faculty members. It conveys how unexamined assumptions seemingly objectively guide the tenure process. The second part of our story is presented as a counterstory from the perspective of Patricia Avila, and it illuminates just how biased and partial these unexamined assumptions can be. Both parts of the story revolve around the Retention, Promotion, and Tenure (RPT) process for faculty of color by looking at how a decision for tenure is made at the academic department level. (p. 172)

  6. What are the underlying assumption embedded in the majoritarian story?