University of Minnesota tells students to check the race of authors they cite

Students must "decenter whiteness," the university says, since doing otherwise "hinders scientific progress."

Background: University of Minnesota/Instagram

Libraries, the peer review process, algorithms and data are all racist, according to the University of Minnesota.

The university maintains a research guide that “shares racist research systems and practices, followed by resources for mitigating those problematic systems and practices,” Campus Reform first reported. This guide alleges that virtually every academic resource is racist but that students can overcome institutional racism by abandoning traditional academic standards.

“Peer review in the publication process is meant to ensure rigid methodology and low bias in what gets published,” the guide explains. However, because between 66-80% of peer reviewers are white, they cannot be trusted, according to the university.

To overcome this, the university says “researchers should look at the gray literature … gray literature refers to works published outside traditional methods, and the easiest way to access it is through Google.”

But this also poses a problem because Google is racist, too. “Keep in mind that Google itself uses biased algorithms,” the guide warns. The guide links to a book on “how search engines reinforce racism” and a website that claims Google’s search algorithm is inherently racist because it was created by white people.

Meanwhile, Google’s CEO, who is a person of color, maintains that his company is not racist. He even wrote a 1,700-word letter last year during the BLM riots explaining Google’s commitment to “equity.”

In addition to asking students to “acknowledge that scholarly publishing is racist,” “acknowledge that search algorithms are racist,” and “acknowledge that library cataloging systems are racist,” the university also says students need to integrate the ideas of black women into the core of their lives.

The research guide says students must “follow the praxis put forth by the Cite Black Women Collective.” The word “praxis” was invented by the ancient Greeks to mean action but was appropriated by Karl Marx to describe the tangible steps he thinks all communists should take.

The “praxis” the university wants students and faculty to follow calls for integrating “Black women into the CORE of your syllabus (in life & in the classroom).” Other measures include making “space for black women to speak” and giving them “time to breathe.”

Finally, students are directed to consider race when determining the credibility of sources. Students are encouraged to include a “citation diversity statement” in their papers to check the races of authors they reference and to make sure they don’t have too many white people mentioned in a paper. Students must “decenter whiteness,” the guide says, since doing otherwise “hinders scientific progress.”

The librarians apparently responsible for generating this research guide are Shanda Hunt and Amy Riegelman.