Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Where Are All The Black Academics On The Dr. Madonna Constantine Case?

Dr. Madonna Constantine was fired from Teacher's College at Columbia University on Monday. Constantine came into the national spotlight when a noose was hung from her office door on the New York City campus. When the case was being investigated by authorities, the fact that Dr. Constantine was under fire for charges of plagiarism became national news as well.

In February, Constantine was sanctioned by Columbia for plagiarism, but not dismissed. Now suddenly, four months later Constantine has been dismissed from her tenured position at the university. Constantine may or may not have committed plagiarism, but I am highly concerned at the near silence of black academics in this case.

Why aren't black academics asking any questions or even raising the issue? She was a black female tenured professor at an Ivy League institution and got dismissed. White academics fight for their own all the time. White academics have lied, plagiarized, said offensive things and they have always found a group of colleagues willing to support or defend them. Where are the black academics in this case?

If Dr. Constantine is guilty, she deserves to be out on her ear, but as black academics don't we have the responsibility to make sure she received due process in the academic system and was not harshly punished, railroaded or retaliated against?


sevenofnine June 25, 2008 at 1:22 AM  

Thank You Professor Tracey. You expressed my thoughts exactly!

As a School Counselor, I've been watching this case for a number of months. There seems to be
no one supporting our sister with the exception of her lawyer PAUL J. GIACOMO JR. who claims he has a MOUNTAIN of evidence in her defense (for a fee)

Dr. Madonna Constantine is a tenured full professor at Columbia Teacher's College, only the second Black woman to achieve this distinction. She came to Teachers College in 1998 as an associate professor and earned tenure in 2001, with more than 30 published articles under her name.

She has written several books on the subject of Multicultural Counseling:


From what I can tell, the Department Chair, in the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology (sic),
Dr. SUNIYA LUTHAR , who is from India, with the encouragement of the college administration, accused, and encouraged others to accuse Dr. Constantine of plagiarizing their work

One of the subordinates who is accusing Dr. Constantine is Dr. Christine Yeh, who does multicultural counseling with Asian students. She is now at San Francisco University, a Jesuit College.

What caught my attention was that:

"Dr. Yeh said that some of her work that had been copied concerned "indigenous healing," or alternative methods, like ACCCUPUNCTURE AND SANTERIA, dealing with medical and spiritual ailments. She said she has specialized in that subject for years. "

I said to myself, "how could this be, when Dr. Constantine is an educated Black woman from New Orleans, where Santeria is openly practiced?"

What surprised me even more was that Dr. Constantine responded to the accusations by filing a $100,000 libel suit against Dr. Luthar, her Department Chair and not against Dr. Yeh, who brought the actual complaint!


Why couldn't these three COUNSELING PSYCHOLOGISTS, one Indian, one Chinese, and one Black, counsel each other and settle the matter among them selves?

It seems clear to me, that the University was practicing divide and conquer, in order to get Dr. Constantine out!

Columbia TC's problem with Dr. Constantine may be that she specializes in" RACIAL MICROAGRESSI0N," which she explains as "the often subtle ways in which RACIAL DIFFERENCES CAN PLAGUE RELATIONSHIPS between even well-meaning therapists and their clients, or supervisors and their trainees. "



By the way. Isn't it still common practice in the university for a senior professor, like Dr. Constantine, to take to take credit for their subordinates work?)

Let's all reach out to our sister. She needs something which is apparently not available at Columbia TC Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology:
a) the support of Black women, b) a heart to heart talk, and c) some good human relations counseling.

achoiceofweapons June 25, 2008 at 3:44 AM  

Hello Professor,
Black Academics suffer from what all other bodies of Black folks suffer from, the ability to set aside our own personal stakes and fight collectively. The NFL Union did it just last year with Mike Vick. 85% of the NFL is Black yet they allowed Vick to sanctioned before anything was proven. He wasn't allowed in camp. They said nothing. What is it was them?
They should have defended him on GP alone just for their own collective az---! The Professors tenured or not should have fought! It wasn't easy to get Black folks admitted to Columbia much less tenured as professors!

Professor Tracey June 25, 2008 at 11:20 AM  

@Seven Of Nine -

Thanks for the detailed info. i have to wonder about that too, that if one professor thought she had been copied, why didn't she address her colleague directly first?

"By the way. Isn't it still common practice in the university for a senior professor, like Dr. Constantine, to take to take credit for their subordinates work?"

Your quote is one of academia's dirty secrets. I was laughing at that allegation, I have had more than one professor attempt to get me to do research for them with no credit or take my writings without credit. I have to wonder how extreme her "taking" from her students was and were the students "encouraged" to complain from another source.

Questions need to be asked here. If she's wrong she's wrong, but we should be asking questions because of her position.

Professor Tracey June 25, 2008 at 11:22 AM  

@A Choice Of Weapons -

I couldn't agree more. If you don't fight as a group, what happens when the group is gone and they come after you?

weemsrj,  June 25, 2008 at 12:19 PM  

I'm out of the loop on this story, Prof. Tracey.

I only know about Constantine from the noose incident. And there's been no talk about her dismissal on the listserv I belong to (which is made up of women who teach in the academy of religion).

Should we assume that because there's no press coverage then there's no hell raising or strategizing or protesting going on behind the scenes among sympathetic colleagues?

I've sent some feelers out to colleagues in the northeast who may know more about behind the scenes deliberations. I'll let you know here on the blog what I find out.

Again, thanks for the heads-up.

sevenofnine June 25, 2008 at 2:44 PM  

For Dr. Weems,

Here is a link to the story about Professor Constantine being fired.


I believe the charges of plagiarism were concocted by university, (see links above) because she was an irritant to her co-workers!

After all, she was researching “racial microaggression,” which can be taken to include members of her own department at Columbia.

May I suggest Dr. Weems, that your organization contact Prof. Barbara Wallace, who is the only other tenured Black Woman at Teachers College.


Barbara C. Wallace

Professor of Health Education

Department: Health & Behavior Studies

Office: 530H Thndk

TC Box #: 114

Phone: 212-678-3966


She might tell you what is going on, or need help herself!

Thank You Dr. Weems and Professor Tracey!

Best Wishes,

Randi523 June 25, 2008 at 3:50 PM  

I do indeed feel like this is a witch hunt. I was going to talk to a couple of my old profs to see what they thought about it.

Anonymous,  June 26, 2008 at 5:48 PM  

Professor Tracey, have you read Keith Josef Adkins' post about Constantine on theroot.com?

sevenofnine June 27, 2008 at 5:40 PM  

I read Keith Joseph Adkins post referred to us by our sister Symphony. You can find it here:


Mr. Adkins, is a playwright and screen writer. (I don't know what connections he has at at Columbia Teachers College)
I was dismayed to read this among his comments:


"But if Constantine actually planted that noose to evade the plagiarism charges and illuminate her career [AND MANY BELIEVE THAT SHE DID] that would be beyond a travesty. A noose is no laughing matter. And to use it as an inciting incident in academia is profane."



He also says the noose hanging incident reminds him of the Brawley case:


"..Last October when I heard about the noose I was a bit suspicious. I don't know why, but the incident felt reminiscent of Reverend Al Sharpton, Tawana Brawley and the ALLEGED ***-rape of 1987."


This brother Mr. Adkins is SO UNSUPPORTIVE of the Black Woman's experience. I would refer him to: http://www.reinstatealtonmaddox.com/tbrawleyfaq.htm

especially item #6.

In searching for Keith Joseph Adkins piece, I came across THE BIG BAD WOLF, one of Dr. Constantine's most severe and influential critics, DR. JOHN MCWHORTER of the conservative think tank MANHATTAN INSTITUTE:

"(Prof. Constantine's) articles are couched in an almost theological assumption that racism is still what America is all about. In one, she and her co-authors openly admit its research basis is "qualitative" — i.e., not based on scientific examination — and in a strange paragraph, openly admit their own bias toward smoking out racism.

Elsewhere is terminology such as "Africultural," and an interesting usage of the term color blind: to be color blind is bad because it means missing people's diversity."



Isn't this what Dubois said? "The problem of the twentieth century is the problem of the color-line. I think we can find many Black academics who agree with Dr. Constantine on that! Now will they stand up and support her?

GoldenAh June 28, 2008 at 5:45 PM  

If she was a man, she would get the kind of support R. Kelly did.

JaliliMaster,  June 29, 2008 at 2:28 AM  

"If she was a man, she would get the kind of support R. Kelly did."

Except, ofcourse, she is a black woman, so is undeserving of it!

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