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Tabia Lee: What Happened at De Anza College

“There [are] ways to teach about the past that are humanistic; that are agency-focused; and that are focused on generative things rather than destructive things—rather than dismantling things and tearing things down with no plan forward of what happens after the destruction.”

On April 13th, Dr. Tabia Lee, who was hired in 2021 to serve as the Faculty Director for the Office of Equity, Social Justice, and Multicultural Education at De Anza College, joined Merion West editor-in-chief emeritus Erich Prince to describe the events that have taken place since starting that role. Shortly after assuming the post, certain groups at De Anza College, which is located in Cupertino, California, challenged Dr. Lee’s vision for how the Office of Equity, Social Justice, and Multicultural Education ought to function. Given her preference for “multiple approaches in performing anti-racism work,” as well as a desire to promote freedom of expression in considering and offering alternatives to the work of theorists such as Dr. Ibram X. Kendi, she faced opposition from a vocal minority of students and faculty members on campus. This eventually resulted in her ouster from her role. This event was widely covered in the press, including in the New York Post, Inside Higher Ed, and on Tucker Carlson Tonight. In their discussion, Dr. Lee and Mr. Prince discuss the events leading up to her dismissal, the state of free expression on college campuses, the organization Free Black Thought, and what those concerned with the state of higher education should do next.

This interview appears in video form:

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