Journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones Denies Faculty Offer from Alma Mater UNC After Facing ‘Appalling’ Racism

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By Angie Madrid and Natalia Claburn

CHAPEL HILL, NC – UNC at Chapel Hill’s Hussman School for Journalism and Media took a stand against the university’s racist past after showing support for alum Nikole Hannah-Jones when she refused to join the school’s faculty.

The Hussman faculty stated that it understood why Hannah-Jones chose to focus her talents elsewhere, explaining that the horrific “treatment of one of our nation’s most-decorated journalists by her own alma mater was humiliating, inappropriate, and unjust.”

While the incident or incidents in question were not outlined, the Hussman faculty made it clear that it was “all because of Hannah-Jones’s honest accounting of America’s racial history.”

The Hussman faculty wrote that UNC aims to espouse “transparency, equity, inclusivity, and fairness.” However, the faculty noted, there is a difference between claiming that an organization or university is against bigotry and inequality and putting “action towards dismantling systemic racism.”

If she had accepted, Hannah-Jones would have been only the second Black woman to be awarded a tenured position at UNC’s School of Journalism and Media and would have been the only “Black woman at the rank of full-professor level.”

In spite of the fact that the institution was created in 1951, it was “a mere three years ago” that the first Black woman earned tenure.

It was noted that “at the university level, only 3.1 percent of tenured faculty are Black women,” further highlighting the Hussman faculty’s disappointment in UNC’s lack of initiative in diversifying their faculty and academic curriculum.

Despite the university’s past actions, the school declared an incentive to continue fighting for the future of the school. Specifically, it states that these past actions have been “long-ignored” within the community and have affected many.

Among those affected, have been students, staff, and faculty. Most heavily, these issues of racism affected the BIPOC community within the university.

The school displayed their support for those, like Hannah-Jones, who have chosen to not associate with the institution; an institution that continuously, they said, “devalues, disregards, and degrades their perspectives, experiences, and contributions.”

The School of Journalism and Media declared their most profound apology to Hannah-Jones over the experiences of racial injustice she has undergone.

The school’s faculty, taking action, proclaimed, “The School of Journalism and Media is already working toward a full and transparent accounting of what transpired over the course of Hannah-Jones’ hire. We are reestablishing our autonomy, clarifying our values, and will demonstrate a model of faculty governance guided by diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging.”

While holding themselves accountable, the school also thanked the many members of the university and Chapel Hill community, alongside the students and alumni for their support.

While declaring an initiative to “live up” to the ideals of their community members, the School of Journalism and Media also announced their continued fight to make the university, UNC, one for all people.

A number of faculty signed the proclamation, indicating their support for the mission, ranging from professors, associate professors, instructors, and many more.

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About The Author

Angie Madrid is a fourth year at UCLA, pursuing a degree in Political Science with a minor in Public Affairs. She is from Los Angeles, CA and would like to pursue law in the future.

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