The The University of Michigan-Dearborn apologized for organizing a virtual cafe event for students that was segregated by race after public outcry and ridicule.
The two cafes were divided for students that were “non-people of color” and those that were “Black, indigenous and people of color.”
The zoom videoconference was organized by the university’s Center for Social Justice & Inclusion for September 8.
A screenshot from the event explained the purpose of the segregated virtual spaces:
The NON-POC (People of Color) Cafe is a space for students that do not identify as persons of color to gather and discuss their experience as students on campus and as non-POC in the world.
A separate virtual event was planned for BIPOC, students who are Black, Indigenous or people of color from marginalized communities, in order to discuss their experiences under their racial and ethnic identities.
Screenshots from the event were circulated on social media and became the object of much ridicule.
From U of M – Dearborn. The Non-POC Cafe or the “White Cafe.” Anyway, I wonder what the menu looks like for the Non… https://t.co/Ua0rNBjJC7
— Abed A. Ayoub (@Abed A. Ayoub)1599628310.0
The celebrity gossip site TMZ said the event “appeared to hearken back to the days of ‘Whites Only’ signs in America.”
The university apologized in a statement on Wednesday after facing ridicule on social media.
“UM-Dearborn sincerely regrets the terms used to describe the ‘cafe’ events held on Sept. 8. The terms used to describe these virtual events and the descriptions themselves were not clear and not reflective of the university’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion,” the statement read.
“The original intent was to provide students from marginalized communities a space that allowed for them to exist freely without having to normalize their lives and experiences, while also providing students that do not identify as persons of color the opportunity to deepen their understanding of race and racism without harming or relying on students of color to educate them,” the statement explained.
“The events were never intended to be exclusive or exclusionary for individuals of a certain race,” the statement concluded. “Both events were open to all members of the UM-Dearborn campus community.”
Here’s another story about college campus segregation:
Segregation Or Sanctuary? Black-Only University Housing Draws Criticism