KRISTIN NACA



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Oyumá Oloye 
is Lucumí for Dawn of Wisdom 
embracing Yoruban and Mazatec spiritual practices 
for the good of humanity.

  

Thank you for visiting and taking interest in my lawsuit Naca v. Macalester College. Please select the link to read or download a pdf copy.

For those of you who haven't met me, my spiritual path, as a Santera, shapes my vision of the world. I believe in the the power of art to heal and connect us. And, we are tied to all beings, matter, and realms of spirit seen and unseen. My beliefs have been tested, when four years ago, I contracted and developed a case of disseminated Valley Fever, Coccidioimycosis.

While an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing at Macalester College, my illness became acute. I was in profound, constant pain. I requested a medical leave. The Macalester Director of Employment Services threatened me with termination for requesting accommodations. The Provost then authorized his threat. This blindsided me. Isn’t it illegal to threaten someone’s employment because of illness or disability? Macalester brags about its liberal values and tradition.

My department chair(s) helped me continue requesting leave. Officials made excuses and pretended they were in denial. More threats followed. Summer 2014, I was initiated as a priest in Santería. I wore white clothing and head covering. My obligations prevented me from being in crowds or out at night, unless I was teaching. The Provost called me into her office and told me, my religion would threaten my tenure. She told me to put off my religious obligations for a year. She said I was too sick to work my religion (though apparently not sick enough to receive accommodations). Mac’s “commitment to internationalism and multiculturalism,” I was learning, was just lipstick; only clergy of Western religions were deserving of respect.

In spring 2015, during a meeting to prepare for tenure review, the Provost’s motives became clear. She said that my non-fiction articles would not be considered toward tenure. (Half my appointment at the College was in literary criticism.) Mac was planning to terminate me -- like other recent women professors with medical disabilities.

I told myself not to, but I took the abuse personally. When Mac threatened me, I couldn’t help feeling intimidated. Officials knew I was in constant pain, yet treated me like I was disposable, that my disability and religion made me less valuable than my colleagues, regardless of my accomplishments. I heard stories about College officials treating other professors of color with disdain. These are strong, intelligent, formidable people. If tenured professors suffered discrimination based on their race, sexual orientation, etc., I thought, what chance did I have?

Two months later in late May 2015, the College seized an opportunity to fire me under a false pretext. An alumna made false harassment allegations against me. Months earlier, she had gained employment at the College and used her position to harass me, requesting on numerous occasions that we continue our once, brief romantic relationship. I rejected her many requests and she became threatening. She wrote that she would make false accusations that I had harassed her when she was a student. When she learned I was up for tenure, she followed through on her promise to file a false complaint.

The College's investigation committee interviewed us both and found: the alumna initiated the romantic relationship after her graduation; there was no threat or coercion to be in a relationship; and there was no College Policy prohibiting relationships between faculty and alumni.

The hostility and discrimination that I had experienced, prior to the investigation, soon reemerged. The College charged me with harassment. A week after that, by informal email, I was notified I was being charged with sexual assault. There was no basis for either. I argued that Macalester wasn't following their own policies and denied my rights published in the handbook.

I had heard from others how officials retaliated if you openly challenged their authority. It was true. I fought and Macalester got meaner. In official documents, the Provost wrote, “Shame on you,” to pressure me into resigning. She cited Policy that did not exist. Some faculty and alumni engaged in perfectly acceptable intimate relationships, in her eyes. Why would I ever imagine to be treated as their equal? Because I am not a white, straight, Christian man, I was expendable. The Provost disparaged my religion.

I couldn't believe someone would go to so much trouble to write such a blatantly discriminating letter. Perhaps she thought I would be ashamed of being "called out" as a brown, homosexual, disabled Santera. Some people are shamed by being labeled, because dominant culture constantly reinforces that we have "marginal" perspectives, that we are innately incompetent, and that physically, aesthetically, our bodies are excessive and unlovable. It is totally understandable that people flinch when their identities are interrogated and cower when their livelihoods are at stake. We experience constant reprimand just for living. My first reaction to these ridiculous attacks is to feel insulted. By calling it was it is, completely obnoxious, I can usually shirk off a personal attack.

But these insults formed the basis of the discrimination and retaliation that resulted in my termination. There were multiple offers from Mac to conference about severance packages. When I wouldn't resign, the abuse got even worse.

In front of a committee of my peers, the Provost demeaned and humiliated me. She fictionalized details of a relationship between the alumna and myself. Then she said, ‘As a creative writer, Prof. Naca make students vulnerable with poetry.’ It was astonishing. She defamed every creative writer in the discipline. She then said, I would repeat the behavior.

You can't argue against stereotypes; you can only hope those around you understand their historical significance and their weight in that very moment. You can only shine truth at the shadows. The alum admitted her initiation after graduation, the investigation committee noted. And, 5000 hours spent in one-on-one writing conferences, with not a single complaint, testifies to the fact that I have never, nor would I ever, harass a student.

President Rosenberg and the faculty committee endorsed the termination. A month later, the Appeals team redefined Policy yet again and dismissed my appeal. I was terminated on September 29, 2015.

In February 2016, I went before a MN State unemployment judge, because Macalester had denied my benefits. She agreed with me, writing that there was no policy prohibiting faculty-alumni relationships. She made a loud statement by writing, I was terminated “for reasons other than sexual misconduct.” I filed EEOC and MN Human Rights complaints against the College. I was furnished a right-to-sue letter.

I’m sure, for many of you, it is hard to fathom the emotions that would arise from these inexplicable and confusing acts of discrimination, retaliation, and the intentional infliction of pain by not uneducated people. Sadly, Macalester officials 'celebrate diversity' to pad their swollen endowments and compensation packages. Those very people in the meanwhile use stereotypes to destroy people's careers, health, safety, and wellbeing. I say 'people's' because I know I'm not alone. Their cruelty trickles down. It affects campus culture and directly harms students, in particular students of color.

Unpacking my emotions can easily plunge me into anxiety and depression. In dreams, I’m fully cognizant of the harrowing pain, fear, and humiliation that stems from being treated as a lesser human by Macalester administrators. Teaching at Mac destroyed my health, career, and my good name. Please read the lawsuit and donate to the legal action fund. I rely on contributions from my friends and family a great deal, because my medical bills have eaten through my savings. I humbly ask for your support, and I sincerely thank you.

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