The incoming dean of the newly created College of Ethnic Studies at California State University, Los Angeles is an ally of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and has publicly expressed hope that Clarence Thomas dies an early death.
During a public television appearance in 1994, Malveaux said of Justice Clarence Thomas: “I hope his wife feeds him lots of eggs and butter and he dies early, like many black men do, of heart disease.”
In a 2018 column for the Birmingham Times, she wrote, “White people’s hatred for Minister Farrakhan is irrational and, might I say, racist.”
A 2018 article in the Nation of Islam’s newspaper, the Final Call, quoted Malveaux as saying, “until these Jewish people who are running around asking Black people to buck dance, until they ask White people to buck dance, I ain’t having it! I’m just not having it!” The article also quoted her as saying, “Min. Farrakhan has never picked up a gun and shot anybody. These people need to just back off.”
Malveaux reportedly appeared with Farrakhan in 2005 to announce plans for a march in Washington.
The California State Board of Education this year approved a model curriculum for ethnic studies, and California may soon become the first state to require ethnic studies for high school graduation. In 2020, the state enacted a law making an ethnic studies class a degree requirement in the California State University system. An Education Next article published earlier this year, “Ethnic Studies in California,” reported that Governor Gavin Newsom, a Democrat, had vetoed the high-school requirement bill last year and told the legislation’s champion in the legislature that the main reason was the Jewish community’s concern about the curriculum. “While some national conservative voices have denounced the entire concept as political indoctrination, support for some form of ethnic studies coursework has been widespread in California,” the Education Next article said. The Wall Street Journal editorialists call the push for ethnic studies “radical,” “a left-wing power grab,” “Marxist,” and warn that ethnic studies “interprets all social interactions through the lens of oppression.”
The Malveaux appointment is likely to fuel criticism of ethnic studies as overly political and tainted with antisemitism.
Roz Rothstein, co-founder and CEO StandWithUs, a nonpartisan Israel education organization that is based in Los Angeles and has been deeply engaged on the ethnic studies issue, said in a statement to Education Next, “While we fully support better representation of marginalized groups in public education, it is now well documented that too many ethnic studies departments are institutionally biased against Jews and Israel. Unfortunately, it appears this appointment will make that problem worse. How can Jews expect to be treated with respect in a college where the leader has defended Louis Farrakhan, downplayed concerns about antisemitism, and promoted destructive conspiracy theories about Jewish power?”
The president of Cal State LA, William A. Covino, in a press release announcing the appointment, said, “This is a significant appointment for the college, but also for the city and the nation.” The release paraphrases him as saying “Malveaux’s long and accomplished record in academia and her history of advocacy will serve her well in her new role as dean of the college.”
Covino did not return a phone message left at his office about the appointment, and a spokesperson for Cal State LA did not return a message left on her cellphone. The spokesperson and aides to Covino also did not respond to multiple email messages asking whether Covino had been aware of Malveaux’s statements before making the appointment, or if they raised concerns. Malveaux did not respond to a written inquiry made via the contact form on her personal website.
In a column published in May 2021, Malveaux wrote, “Israel has a lock on U.S. foreign policy, and too many Jewish people say that criticism of Israel makes you anti-Semitic.” Actually, while Israel has strong bipartisan support from the American public and politicians, it does not have “a lock on U.S. foreign policy”: witness, for example, President Obama entering the Iran nuclear deal that Israel opposed, and President Biden negotiating to re-enter the same deal.
In a 1995 column for the Washington Post, Malveaux offered a mixed view of Farrakhan: “while I reject white Americans’ use of Louis Farrakhan as a litmus test of acceptable black opinion, I also reject the notion that I have to embrace Farrakhan just because white America looks askance at him. Farrakhan and the Nation of Islam offer an array of positives and negatives to black America. On the plus side, there is his focus on economic development and discipline. On the minus side, there is the antisemitic rhetoric and the traditionalism in gender relations.”
An Anti-Defamation League fact sheet describes Farrakhan as “a notable extremist figure, railing against Jews, white people and the LGBT community.”
Malveaux, 67, has a Ph.D. in economics from MIT. Between 2007 and 2012 she was president of Bennett College in Greensboro, North Carolina, which is a historically Black liberal arts college for women. When she announced her resignation from that post the News & Record newspaper credited her with helping to increasing the college’s enrollment to more than 700 students from fewer than 400.
A 2019 profile in the Boston College alumni magazine reported, “the same woman who detests President ‘rump’ (she won’t say his name) and Mitch McConnell (a ‘turtle from Kentucky’) also criticizes Barack Obama, whom Malveaux felt was afraid of being perceived as ‘the President of black America,’ and instead opted for ‘President of all America.’”
The press release announcing Malveaux’s appointment says she will begin as dean on July 1, 2021. The College of Ethnic Studies is home to the Department of Asian and Asian American Studies, the Department of Chicana(o) and Latina(o) Studies and the Department of Pan-African Studies. The university, founded in 1947, has 27,827 students.
Ira Stoll is managing editor of Education Next.