The Black and African Diaspora Forum United

The Black and African Diaspora Forum United (BADFU) was established as an organization consisting of Black and African American faculty members and allies at Monmouth University, which evaluates African American academics at dominant white institutions of higher education.

The organization began in summer 2020 in response to a series of racist and anti-Black incidents that have occurred involving members of the University community.

Consisting of 19 faculty members, BADFU strives to unearth institutional practices that negatively impact the learning, education, or opportunities for African American and Diaspora students and faculty.

By working with administration and faculty decision makers to transition new practices, BADFU supports the increase of diversity in student and faculty ratio, placing more African Americans in administrative roles (specifically positions of institutional governance), and incorporating education to the institution on matters related to the Black and African Diaspora experience while providing advice through interactions with key stakeholders at the University.

“This University currently has only three self-identified tenured Black/African American faculty among a faculty of nearly 300. That’s less than two percent. This is more than problematic,” said Hettie Williams Ph.D., member of BADFU and Assistant Professor of the Department of History and Anthropology,

Walter Greason Ph.D., another member of BADFU and Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Educational Counseling and Leadership, said, “Without question, Monmouth University has an opportunity to become a world leader in anti-racist education by listening to the forum’s membership and taking immediate actions to improve all aspects of campus and community life.”

Greason believes that the need for an organization such as BADFU is urgent, and that students and faculty will gain a more responsive and holistic experience of university life by including voices and experiences that are often marginalized.

“The forum is unique among organizations that pursue the goals of equity and inclusion because it is based in advanced research and concrete time tables for reaching specific benchmarks. Too often, vague statements of principle can dissipate momentum toward impactful change. The forum has a level of focus and determination rarely seen among university faculty on these issues,” he said.

He also believes that by fall 2021, these changes could present a shift in campus climate that will inspire favorable comparisons against higher-ranked competitive institutions.

Williams believes that Monmouth has responded expeditiously to concerns of diversity and inclusion by establishing the Intercultural Center, Monmouth Moments, the Africana Studies Program, and commitment to the HBCU’s (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) Fellows Program, but needs to strive for better.

She said, “Though there are existing organizations and groups on campus that advocate for diversity, inclusion, and equality, anti-Black racism and structural inequality are still major obstacles that have impacted members of the Black and African American community in significant and unique ways on this campus and in the nation.

She continued, “The current number of Black faculty and students on this campus is a reflection of missed opportunities and a need for more robust practices of inclusion. Black/African American faculty have not been fully integrated into multiple sectors of the university community and this is glaringly evident when it comes to faculty ranks.”

Williams said that race intersects with a host of other aspects of identity such as gender, and that having several women as members incorporates a variety of perspectives on matters of diversity and inclusion.

For BADFU, it is a historic moment that President Leahy and the Provost have listened to their stories and shared support.

BADFU currently host a weekly podcast called This Week in Black History, Society, and Culture, with its first episode airing on Sept. 7.

During these podcasts, BADFU members interview scholars, authors, activists, and community leaders on situations which have an impact on the history, society, and culture of Black and African American communities in the United States and beyond. Each series discuses a variety of topics which include higher education, economics, criminal justice, reparations, mental health, history, science, gender, popular culture, women, and politics.

The podcasts are accessible from services such as Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Overcast, and more. New episodes are released on Monday mornings from September to May during each academic term.

The organization will also take part in Black History Month in February with a virtual event called “Policing in Communities of Color,” which will feature a conversation on police violence, Black Lives Matter, and police reform.

To stay updated on BADFU, and for information about programs, events, and advocacy, you can also follow them on Twitter (@bad_union) and Instagram (@ black_faculty2020).


PHOTO TAKEN from Unsplash