College professor says African-American faculty need ‘black bereavement leave’ when a black person is killed

A professor at Southern Illinois University asserts that black American workers should get paid time off to grieve whenever a black person is killed regardless of whether they knew the person or were related to them.

Dr. Angel Jones contended that black teachers should be eligible for “black bereavement leave” because the collectively overwhelming grief in the black community is too much to bear when tragedy strikes. And she’s serious.

Jones says she burst into tears when she was forced to email her students after Tyre Nichols’ death in Memphis. He was allegedly beaten to death by five black police officers. She claims that she could not contain her feelings and she has broken down crying “numerous times” when she had to send similar emails in the past.

The professor wrote an op-ed for Times Higher Education asking “Where’s our Black bereavement leave?”

“In fact, I have tears in my eyes right now just thinking about all those emails I’ve sent and all the ones I know I will have to send in the future. Despite the pain, I send them because it is my duty, because my students might need me and because if I don’t, who will? That’s not to say I’m the only person who looks out for the well-being of students, because that is far from the truth. However, history has shown us that Black educators often have to exert additional emotional energy to pick up the slack the academy leaves behind after it sends its obligatory, and often performative, statement to the campus community,” she said in the piece.

“But while those obviously copy-pasted, campus-wide emails are the bare minimum, Black faculty and staff don’t even get that. Where is the acknowledgment of our pain? Where are our counselling services? Where is our grace for missed meetings and deadlines while we mourn? Yes, we have jobs to do and students to support, but we also have trauma to process,” Jones asserted.

“I am a proud educator who loves what I do. But before that, I am a Black woman. A Black woman who is expected to return to ‘business as usual’ on Monday after seeing a member of my community murdered on Friday. Although it is customary for employees to receive support and understanding while grieving the loss of a loved one, the same care is rarely shown to the Black community when we lose someone in horrific and traumatic ways. Where’s our Black bereavement leave?” she wrote.

Jones then tried to drive home the seriousness of “black bereavement leave.”

“Some may have thought I was joking when I mentioned Black bereavement leave, but I wasn’t,” she stated. “We need space and time to grieve without having to explain or defend it. And since the grief process, like the Black community, is not a monolith, flexibility is required.”

The professor’s field of study is the impact of racism on the mental health of black students at historically white institutions. Notably, one of her recent woke works was about how black graduates respond to and cope with gendered-racial microaggression.

Her background “is grounded in Critical Race Theory and Critical Race Feminism and acknowledges the roles that race and racism play in the lives of Black students,” according to her faculty bio. She also studies “Racial Battle Fatigue.”

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