Dr. Shane Brady provided an excellent description of what many black students and black faculty at the University of Michigan have known for years — activism is always welcome at Michigan, but there are strong restrictions on who may articulate the activism.

Blacks may “almost” freely pontificate on the subject of race, but only during Martin Luther King Day or Week, and only after receiving approval from the Office of Multicultural Studies. Mind you, nothing too controversial.

Being a woman of color with staying power at Michigan requires some sacrifice. The nature of this sacrifice is the “insider knowledge” alluded to by Brady. As I was recently advised by a semi-retired black faculty in the School of Social Work, “you have to be sure not to burn your bridges.” Simply keep your mouth shut, behave gratefully and don’t upset white liberals, especially ones with money.

The disinvitation is no surprise. The more compelling failure is that of University President Mary Sue Coleman to offer a public response, i.e., apology. But for those with “insider knowledge” of University politics, it’s par for the course. Well, there’s always the next election for the University’s Board of Regents to seek needed change. Thank you, Dr. Brady. Believe me, if your lecture appointment is not renewed, some of us understand.

Audrey Jackson is a University alum.

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