WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 19, 2015) — OCA, Asian Pacific American Advocates calls for Duke University’s disassociation with Professor Jerry Hough.
Duke University Professor Jerry Hough has faced criticism for comments in an online post that accused Black Americans of using discrimination as an excuse for problems in the Black community. He also held up Asian Americans as an example of how passive assimilation can succeed over discrimination. Though Duke spokesman Michael Schoenfeld has distanced the University from Hough’s comments, Hough has refused to retract his statement.
In his post, Hough wrote, “In 1965 the Asians were discriminated against as least as badly as blacks…So where are the editorials that say racism doomed the Asian-Americans. They didn’t feel sorry for themselves, but worked doubly hard.” He continued, “Every Asian student has a very simple old American first name that symbolizes their desire for integration. Virtually every black has a strange new name that symbolizes their lack of desire for integration.”
“Trying to compare the struggles of these two completely distinct communities completely ignores the history of centuries of systemic racism and different challenges facing each group”, said Michael W. Kwan, OCA National President. “Additionally, casting all Blacks together and all Asians together without looking at each individual narrative leads to such gross generalizations that any conclusion drawn is meaningless. Professor Hough espoused an opinion, not fact, drawn from his speculation based upon very sloppy social science. Most importantly, his broad comparisons invite conflict and tension between communities of color by reinforcing stereotypes and assigning values to groups of people.”
“Hough’s comments ascribe to the ‘model minority’ myth that continues to plague the Asian American community,” added Kwan. “His comments tell Asian American youth that they will be successful if they passively endure discrimination and assimilate into white society. They also instruct our youth that Black Americans are to be looked down upon as the ‘other’ in society. His comments discount the struggles that Asian Americans have faced and still face today and also undermine our solidarity with the Black community in advocating for justice and equal opportunity.”
“While we are strong supporters of the First Amendment and the right to free speech, the duty of shaping young minds is an important one, one Hough is clearly unfit to perform,” concluded Kwan. “Professor Hough wrote, ‘I am a professor at Duke University.’ The only reason for including this sentence in his post was to attempt to lend credibility to his outrageous claims; credibility stolen from Duke University and to infer that the university shared his beliefs. Beyond simply characterizing Professor Hough’s words as ‘noxious’ and ‘offensive’, Duke University must now disassociate themselves with his person and not allow him to use the University’s reputation to add merit to his damaging claims.”
OCA further calls upon Duke University to convene a meeting with the Black and Asian communities to begin a dialogue to discuss strategies to heal the wounds caused by these caustic remarks.
OCA – Asian Pacific American Advocates is a national organization of community advocates dedicated to improving the social, political, and economic well-being of Asian Pacific Americans (APAs).