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ERIC Number: EJ841988
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0095-182X
In Search of the Meritocracy
Russell, Steve
American Indian Quarterly, v27 n1-2 p400-411 Win-Spr 2003
Academia is the author's second career, and his path to that career was unusual. Oklahoma schools had little to offer, and he had given up on education in the ninth grade because it had long since given up on him. The Vietnam War bought him a position in the Air Force that improved his self-image, and the GI Bill bought him an education. He came out of the University of Texas at Austin, having graduated "magna cum laude," convinced that his educational failures were the fault of a system that expected nothing of Indian children. He was trained to be a high school teacher, and that was his plan. It had not occurred to him that no school system would hire somebody who was so plainly convinced that the public schools were squandering the talent of minority kids. Having no teaching offers, he proceeded to law school, where his heroes were Thurgood Marshall and William O. Douglas. While in law school he did an internship with the United Farm Workers of America, AFL-CIO, and discovered that south Texas was full of Indians who did not identify themselves as Indian. The time finally arrived when his kids were out of school and he no longer needed money. Getting paid to teach and write was a lifelong dream for which he was willing to take the two-thirds pay cut. The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) was a school with a mission, and it was a mission he shared: to bring affordable, quality, public higher education to south Texas. When he was hired he was told that he should expect to publish an article every year. He was denied tenure after he created a stir when his proposal to invite a Native American to speak for the university's Women's History Week was turned down. One of his outside reviewers expressed shock that he had not been tenured, and in spite of some stupid things he did to get in his way, the author was recruited by Indiana University, one of the top criminal justice programs in the country. The author has many more questions than answers, but he takes some heart in what has happened in this journal. Devon Mihesuah has spoken up in her call for papers. She has said it out loud, and not for the first time. The problem is not merit. The problem is discrimination. Whether they hurt Native Americans because they do not think or they hurt them because they can, somebody has to speak up before they can deal with the problem. (Contains 11 notes.)
University of Nebraska Press. 1111 Lincoln Mall, Lincoln, NE 68588-0630. Tel: 800-755-1105; Fax: 800-526-2617; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Opinion Papers
Education Level: Adult Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Oklahoma; Texas; Vietnam
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: G I Bill