The Discussion of Online Education Mirrors Bigotry About Other Groups

Academics like to think that they are not biased towards their students. That they are providing students with the best possible education.

This false image quickly fades if you look at the discussions they have about online education.

The first 2 phrases that come to mind that I hear from a lot of academics are “inferior” and “2nd class”

Since I have already managed to mess up this conversation with 2 academics, let me explain in details why both are problematic, starting with 2nd class.

Academics in the Netherlands, surely you must have considered the connotation of 2nd class considering the track system in the Netherlands? To the readers unfamiliar with this, they basically have 3 tracks: Vocational, Academic, and General. As with pretty much all tracking systems, this reproduces inequality with academic faring the best and vocational faring the worst.

If you would like more general information about this, see this research article that focuses on the deficit based discourse in vocational:

The most important thing to note is that vocational students see themselves as less worthy, society treats them as less worthy, Brown and Black kids are more likely to end up there. That’s not even to mention that the Netherlands can’t even agree that a blatant form of blackface is in fact racist. Not to mention that Black Dutch people have often reported as not being seen as full citizens despite being born there and living there all their life. See where I am going with this?

When you say 2nd class and you do not fully deconstruct just how devastatingly harmful that term is, you are enforcing white supremacy. You are enforcing that it is an okay term to use, a term that never gets applied to white Dutch citizens, but does get applied to Black Dutch citizens, Brown Dutch citizens, and to those who became citizens through immigration.

Much of this also applies to the US and to other places as well. 2nd class is rooted in dehumanization, in racism, in literal colonialism and colorism of ranking people by where they are from and their skin color. Don’t use the fucking term unless you fully deconstruct this! Also, don’t forget that the Dutch as of Jan. 2023 still have colonies. Your colonialism isn’t even in the past and you’re still actively enforcing it in places like Curaçao. Don’t give me that crap about being above it if you’re still doing it. And if you go “What about the United States?”, yeah colonialism everywhere is bad, quit deflecting and actually look at your own past rather than pretending that you still aren’t doing it.

The 2nd term is inferior. Similar to the other term, this is also rooted in racism, colonialism, ableism, and colorism. This one I will focus more on the ableist side, especially since COVID is still ongoing.

Some students with disabilities need to be in person. Some need to be strictly online. Some do best with hybrid.

But you know what a lot of these so called professors that state that we need to make education more accessible don’t do that pisses me off?

Not talk about visas or the disabled students themselves!

You can talk about “Imagining a future more accessible to all”, but if you do not even mention disabled students, let alone center them, your words ring hollow. You must specifically center their words and thoughts! I don’t know how to make this idea more obvious. It reminds me of the academics that talk about diversity, and then center mostly white cisgender heterosexual able-bodied folks. And then you try to use the euphemism of “underrepresented minorities” instead of “Historically and currently excluded minorities” or “Culturally competent” instead of “We didn’t think about anyone except white folks for this”.

I’m going to say this one more time: Center disabled students and faculty! You’re leaving both out of the discussion often. I see this bias get deliberately replicated over and over again because you don’t think we’re capable. You pity us. Take your pity and convert it into money to support us please.

Now to move to the visa issue: You want an education accessible for ALL, yet you never state how students from certain countries will never get that accessible education. You don’t talk about how you go to conference they cannot because of their visa, you don’t try to connect them to researchers in their homeland, you don’t do shit for them. There, I said it. Wanna start actually making education accessible for all? Go actually make it to where everyone with the proper background can join and then actually accept them and stop with the constant xenophobia.

What does all of this have to do with the term inferior? I’ve heard professors call disabled students inferior. I’ve definitely heard way too many shitty comments about professors calling African migrants “completely inferior”. When you use terms that are inherently rooted in ableism, you enforce the idea of some folks being worth less than others. There’s other terms to be used if quality is what you are concerned about, such as quality. Or “Deliberately underfunded”. Or “I refuse to adapt my pedagogy to a different medium and am surprised that I get worse results”. Or “Not as good as X”. See, was that so hard?

On another note, academics, if you are concerned that a large amount of academics are falling for hype, consider that an indictment on your field and on your education. Shouldn’t a PhD ensure research skills since that is literally what the degree is about? Maybe if you’re seeing a systemic trend here that you need to stop blaming individual academics and instead contemplate the systemic issues that’s causing academics to not use their research skills. Hint: Go take notes on who is doing the biggest hype and you will notice a very clear pattern. You gotta start actually look at why certain groups with the most privilege are hyping things up more than the rest. They have the ability to ignore the consequences of bigotry. The rest of us do not. They have the skills, they’re just refusing to do so in exchange for even more power. Stop thinking this is just ignorance, you’re academics! Don’t you have the research skills to look deeper and see that this hype is a pattern by the most privileged to deflect and subjugate us further?


When discussing online education or anything else, please actually think on your words. Please don’t perpetuate further harm. And please for the love of the universe, stop saying deluded or delusional unless you’re actually referring to a delusion, otherwise you’re being ableist towards those that have difficulty with delusions. It’s not a delusion, it’s willful ignorance to harm others!

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