haunani-kay trask, “the politics of academic freedom as the politics of white racism”

excerpts from haunani-kay trask, “the politics of academic freedom as the politics of white racism” in restructuring for ethnic peace, ed. majid tehranian (1991)


“For us, American colonialism has been a violent process: the violence of mass death, the violence of American missionizing, the violence of cultural destruction, and the violence of the American military. Once the United States annexed my homeland, a new kind of violence took root: the violence of educational colonialism, where foreign haole values replace Native Hawaiian values; where schools, like the University of Hawaii, ridicule Hawaiian culture and praise American culture; and where white men assume the mantle of authority, deciding what is taught, who can teach, and even what can be said, written, and published.” (12)

tumblr_mne9650wr21rjeiaoo1_400“In colony Hawaii the University of Hawaii stands atop the educational pyramid of the state. Like the military, the university is a guardian of white cultural dominance. The standard American university curriculum, bureaucratic structure, and white male faculty characterize the institution.” (12)

‘[R]esponsible’ speech, as it is defined by white men, creates the parameters of academic freedom. White men can say all manner of dangerous, violent, and false things–absolute lies, in fact… and their speech is acceptable. But when an articulate Native woman speaks the truth about the haole, she must be reprimanded, removed, and shut up. No academic freedom for her, nor free speech either, because–by definition–dissenting speech, speech that criticizes and opposes the prevailing system of colonial domination, cannot be ‘responsible.'” (18)

“[T]here certainly is a hostile environment on this campus, an environment that is similar to colonial environments in occupied countries all over the world, an environment that is Native-hating, that keeps power in the hands of the colonizers, and that attacks any dissenting voice, any political alternative.” (20)

“Academic freedom then–the freedom to argue, and above all, to dissent–is determined by white men. If they don’t like what you say, they will try to shut you up by punitive actions and public vilification.” (21)

“White men protect white men, this university protects white hegemony.” (21)

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