I recently received a series of emails from the Concerned Black Alumni of Princeton calling for the establishment of an academic center at Princeton to signal the University’s commitment to fighting racism. I also recently received emails from a similar sounding center at another major academic institution inviting me to virtual discussions that felt more like advocacy than balanced academic discussion; their descriptions did not make me feel welcome as a white individual who self-defines as moderate.
I believe that there is too much siloing of individuals with different perspectives on race and other critical societal issues. There is a great need for an academic center that attempts to draw in proponents of multiple viewpoints (progressive and conservative) and works towards reasonable consensus positions, but I believe that there are better places outside of academia for groups that are not balanced and collaborative. If Princeton chooses to establish a center, I hope it explicitly follows a collaborative pathway in its purpose and its hires.