George Lipsitz

Dr. George Lipsitz is Professor of Black Studies and Sociology at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of eleven books including THE FIERCE URGENCY OF NOW (with Daniel Fischlin and Ajay Heble) and HOW RACISM TAKES PLACE. Dr. Lipsitz is senior editor of the comparative and relational ethnic studies journal KALFOU, editor of the Critical American Studies series at the University of Minnesota Pres and co-editor of the American Crossroads series at the University of California Press. Dr. George Lipsitz is active in struggles for fair housing and educational equity. In 2013 he was awarded the Angela Y. Davis Prize for Public Scholarship in American Studies.

It is the last week of classes at the university where I teach in the Department of Black Studies. Students are anxious about the term papers they are writing and the exams they will take next week. There is a long line of students who wish to meet with me outside my office. They want some last minute consultations to make sure that they are on track, that they understand what we have been studying, that they are prepared to do well as the course ends. I meet with one after another. Some have nothing to worry about. The very sense of responsibility that brings them to my office to talk has held them in good stead. They will do well in the course. Others have genuine cause for concern. They have not kept up with the reading and missed too many lectures. They are trying to cram an entire term’s worth of work into the last two weeks. They will probably not do well in the course, but I am determined to take them as far as they can go, to help them learn as much as they can in the short time we have left. Our conversations take anywhere from ten minutes to a half hour. One student leaves the office and then another walks in.

In the midst of these consultations, a white student I do not recognize walks in. He has been waiting patiently in line for an hour. He explains that he is not enrolled in any of my classes.  In fact, he has never taken any Black Studies courses. He explains, he wants to speak with me, however, because he was walking down the hallway, noticed that our department is called Black Studies, and he wants to let me know that he thinks there should not be a Black Studies department. “I don’t see race at all. I don’t care what color people are,” he says. “It doesn’t matter to me if you are Black, white or purple.” Read more

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