The Urban News, our local multicultural news weekly, reported that Dr. Jamie R. Riley was forced to resign last month from his position as assistant vice president and dean of students at the University of Alabama. He had assumed that position in February.*
Dr. Riley is a 38-year-old black man who earned his doctorate in counseling and student services from University of Georgia in 2011. He had served as the executive director of the international black fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha and also as associate/assistant deans for Johns Hopkins University and University of California Berkeley.
Riley resigned (a) because the nut-right Breitbart News republished old remarks from his Twitter account associating the U.S. flag with our racist history and our racist policing and (b) because the trustees and leaders of the University of Alabama are cowards who think diversity is two four-letter-words with an r in the middle.
You can read Riley’s tweets elsewhere — my favorite source was the black news-magazine The Root, whose headline read “Alabama Dean Quits Because White People Can’t Handle the Truth.” I thought Riley’s tweets were forthright, certainly nothing Colin Kaepernik and Black Lives Matter haven’t already pointed out. What Riley tweeted registered only 2.6 on the Malcolm X Threat-to-Whitey Scale.
Nonetheless, here is a sample of the comments posted in Crimson White [sic], the student newspaper of the University of Alabama, in response to the article announcing Dr. Riley’s resignation. What a field day for the beasts:
- Good riddance race pimp!
- Racist man loses job. Fixed your headline
- Did this moron forget he was in Alabama and not califorina? [sic]
- How does a moron like Riley get such a position in the first place? Just a rhetorical question; we all know why.
- Rily, [sic] a PHD isn’t smart enough to know WHITES (including me) experience racism every day also, especially since Obama ran for President. Riley is a genuine RACIST with no moral compass and a ghetto, hand-out mentality.
- President Monroe set up a country SPECIFICALLY for blacks (both slaves and non-slaves) to go to for the purpose of escaping racism. It’s called LIBERIA — and in Monroe’s honor, the capital is Monroeville. Maybe you ought to move there… yes, even in the 21st century, they STILL accept American blacks as immigrants.
To be fair, there was some pushback on these comments from others in the student body, but only in proportion to President Trump’s job approval ratings, which currently stand at Approve: 40, Disapprove: 56. Meanwhile, the UA Black Faculty and Staff Association has been keeping the heat on university president Stuart Bell to enact reforms.
Ironically, the title of Riley’s 2011 doctoral dissertation was “Racism, Discrimination, and Prejudice: Through the Voices of Black Men on Predominately White College Campuses.” For his study, Riley interviewed many black undergraduates about their experiences with campus racism and its social and academic effects. Riley’s conclusion: “Although they did allude to the additional challenges faced in class due to the level of [racial] press placed on them, they were able to use the environmental press as motivation to work harder and succeed regardless of racially charged encounters.”
I hope that Dr. Riley’s most recent racially charged encounter will somehow motivate him to carry on in the face of hard-work-isn’t-enough racism that is not just campus-wide but nationwide. I don’t know how a black person sustains the motivation these days.