01:00 AM EDT on Friday, October 9, 2009
By Richard C. Dujardin
Journal Staff Writer PROVIDENCE — The Foundation for Intellectual Diversity has assailed Brown University’s hiring of a Nigerian author who the group says is known for denouncing British author Joseph Conrad as a “bloody racist” and says Brown should “rethink” its plans to expand its Africana studies program.
“It is unfortunate that Brown continues to buy into this empty notion of diversity based on race, sex and ethnicity,” said Stephen Beale, the foundation’s president.
A 2004 graduate, Beale said the foundation’s board of directors is made up of Brown graduates who would like to see more intellectual diversity at Brown and other college campuses.
He said the hiring of Nigeria writer Chinua Achebe to the faculty of the Africana studies department was aggravating because Achebe, besides calling Conrad a racist, claimed that Conrad’s book Heart of Darkness celebrates the dehumanization and depersonalization of African people.
“We urge the university to consider more creative ways to teach its students about the classics of Western literature than calling them racist. Students deserve to appreciate great books on their own merits without having them cut down into caricatures of European colonialism.”
During the last two days, calls to Brown’s Africana studies department and to the assistant to the president for a reaction to the foundation’s criticisms were not returned.
The Web site for the Foundation for Intellectual Diversity is idiversity.org