It feels like we are at a historical turning point. The ongoing protests against systemic oppression and police violence in the United States and Canada have called on white people, like me, to listen, learn, and act against racism. My research doesn’t connect with racial issues. How can I ensure my work is actively anti-racist?
Dr. Editor’s response:
If you look around your lab – if you look at your department’s faculty, and your university administration – and you don’t see Black people, then your research does indeed connect with racial issues. Simply stating that Black lives matter is a very low bar to clear. Do that, and then continue the work of dismantling structural racism in academia. Here’s how:
1. Practice anti-racist research
Many of my Black friends and I have gotten messages from white colleagues asking about our well being and how they can help. Rather than burden us with your guilt, invite us to co-author papers and grants with you. Invite us to be on the symposium or be the guest speaker.
— Dr. Jasmine Abrams (@DrJasmineAbrams) June 3, 2020
Apply #designjustice to all research work & teams
“How many of the people you are citing are people like you, how many people different from you? How many are dominant (white, male, straight, you name it) & how many are marginal in some way?”#phdchat #ecrchat https://t.co/SxoeJoLmXr
— Beverley Miles (@BeverleyBMiles) May 8, 2020
How can knowledge creation be neutral when it mirrors the racial and gender hierarchy in society?#CiteBlackWomen #phdchat #intersectionality #feminism https://t.co/yNginiGr1Z
— Jacqueline L. Scott, Black Outdoors (@BlackOutdoors1) January 3, 2018
We have to hire and pay more black archaeologists+ support deconstructing racism in academe. We have to provide ways to fund and support our colleagues in other countries- instead of helicoptering in and out+ benefiting and leaving nothing.
— Sarah Parcak (@indyfromspace) June 1, 2020
« Including diverse individuals who are also different thinkers because of their lived experiences can increase the breadth and depth of biomedical and clinical inquiries » https://t.co/5MH2vBahTv
Academia and medicine must do better
— Charlene Rodrigues (@cmc_rodrigues) August 22, 2019
« Uniformity of identity had an impact on the richness in philosophical questions, frameworks, & theories…increased diversity brings NEW questions, new methods, and new theories. » Black Women Philosophers Conference https://t.co/UXeY0KaMJG @apa_blog #CiteBlackWomen #CiteaSista pic.twitter.com/nuI2q7U3Fn
— Physical-distancing Citizen. Coping. (@PropCazhPM) April 1, 2019
2. Perform anti-racist service
1- In department meetings, when you agree with colleagues about ‘the best and the brightest’ (referring ONLY to trainees from Ivy League Schools), and when you believe that Academia is a meritocracy system (spoiler alert: is not!).
— Yaihara Fortis, PhD (@yfortiss) June 5, 2020
White faculty in graduate admissions deliberations 👇🏽 https://t.co/WyuO9x1IHw
— Justice is Breonna Taylor Still Being Here (@hfdavis) June 5, 2020
Furthermore, when many departments have had the opportunity to hire more Black faculty, they have used those lines to bolster the white population and the European fields. Oftentimes, even the Africa field will only short list white candidates.
— The Public Archive (@public_archive) June 6, 2020
Heard this a lot, « Well, we don’t get a lot Black applicants. »
Where are you searching? Are you being strategic or just posting the job on HigherEdJobs? Are you scouting Black academic talent intentionally? Looking at grad programs? Asking colleagues? Attending conferences?
— Dear Search Committee (@jenniferejoness) June 6, 2020
My experience was similar. Referees/editors were largely putting data from African Americans in a box as neither generalizable nor of general interest. Direct evidence of generalizability came from seminars: folks from 🇷🇺, 🇺🇦, 🇮🇱, 🇨🇳, etc, found it applicable across time & space. https://t.co/vHN3SnPaZt
— Lisa D. Cook (@drlisadcook) June 4, 2020
3. Be anti-racist in your teaching & training
Stop expecting your Black graduate students to shoulder the burden of reforming/educating your entire graduate program for free. Normalize paying them for their labor, or hiring an expert on diversity & education
— Melonie Vaughn (@melonievaughn_) June 5, 2020
The ‘Benefits’ of Black Physics Students https://t.co/lV7xpiJfcL #blackinstem #stem
— Christopher J. Nellum (@chrisnellum) December 18, 2015
An interesting project on « Developing Inclusive Citation Practices » from North Carolina State University #citeherwork #aectgsahttps://t.co/9AjJo7wIy8 pic.twitter.com/d8Lx2jeTk6
— AECT GSA (@gsa_aect) May 9, 2019
I’ve been having discussions with my advisor and lab group about actions that can be taken so that Black graduate students (and other minorities) feel safe, welcomed, and supported. Here’s what I/we have come up with so far
— (Future Dr.) Alexis 👩🏾🔬🌍🔬🌳 (@DrAlexisWilson) June 3, 2020
It’s the responsibility of all white educators to affirm that Black Lives Matter. We must all work to make our classrooms and syllabi anti-racist. Here are some resources to get started. #BlackLivesMatter #twitterstorians #AcRel #AmRel #AcademicChatter
— Dr. Katie Kleinkopf (@katiekathryn55) June 2, 2020
A wise reminder. And I would add, your white gaze isn’t something put on and take off like glasses. You have to be aware of what it is, how it colors EVERYTHING you see and experience, and then you have to become familiar with perspectives very different from your own. https://t.co/izCd0qz8Oe
— Sherri Spelic (@edifiedlistener) June 1, 2020
4. Embody & enact anti-racism
A lot of these white-dominated institutions have no idea what it means to support Black lives. Words are not enough. So much has been taken from our people in the form of cultural capital channeled into actual currency.
Pull out the books and start re-destributing.
— Morgan Jerkins (@MorganJerkins) June 6, 2020
If your lab ever used HeLa cells then you have to donate to bail funds this week.
— fagocyte 👽🔬🌈 (@undocusci) May 31, 2020
IMO academics are fundamentally public servants. We need more academics to run for office, to take part in peaceful protests and to advocate for reform.
— Malhar Jere (@mallu94) June 2, 2020
Academics must stand shoulder to shoulder with journalists. Both our professions are built on freedom of speech and the democratic necessity to be able to openly scrutinise & criticise authority. @amnesty @AcademicChatter @Jas_Aguilera @UNHumanRights https://t.co/vugPYnb2kT
— Tom Johnstone 🇦🇺🇪🇺 (@itjohnstone) June 5, 2020
If you’re wondering what you, a non Black person, can do right now for people on the ground, find your local protest and put your body in front of Black protestors. If you can’t go, make funds ready for bail. Or do both.
— Mia Tsai (@itsamia) May 29, 2020
Lastly, if you Iearned something valuable about racism/police violence/justice from someone on social media over the last few weeks—I hope that you let them know or donated to a cause they care about…breaking down racial terror is hard
sending light & love✨
— Megan Ming Francis (@meganfrancis) May 26, 2020
5. Hire a Black editor for your academic writing
- Summer McDonald
- The People’s Editor
- Up In Consulting
Dr. Editor’s fee for this month’s column has been donated to Black charities and anti-racist organizations.
We should also remember that racism is not all black and white. It exists everywhere where people react, usually to some form of adversity or societal stress. Anti-Chinese and anti-Asian hate has been on the rise since Trump has decided to call the SARS-CoV2 virus the Chinese virus instead of the coronavirus or COVID-19. Racism is often ingrained. For a real change, the only way to overcome racism is education – starting with reaching out to young kids from all backgrounds to let them know that everyone is equal, at least in Canada.
Doing Anti-Black Racist Academic work also includes acknowledging that modern science we currently teach/research (e.g., physics, chemistry, biology, maths, etc.) also draws from knowledge co-created for centuries (by current as well as by traditional scholars from Africa and those of African descent in the diaspora). In short, it involves: the active and purposefully endeavouring by all of us (non-Black and Black academics) to explicitly stop the conscious and unconscious marginalization and rendering invisible of the scholarly and scientific contributions of Peoples of African Descent. Dr. Abdulghany Mohamed (@Mwalimu_Mohamed)
Thank you for this column, Dr. Henville. I just now came across it and will be sharing it in my network.