When scholars of color aren't considered experts on issues facing black America
- The Journal of Political Philosophy recently published a 60-page, three-author article on the Black Lives Matter movement — but none of the authors were black, according to reporting by Inside Higher Ed.
- Open letters have surfaced from professors at Yale and UCLA decrying the "distaste" of the journal's decision to publish the "symposium" without having any black scholars involved who could properly contextualize the movement and its surrounding ethical principles.
- A further investigation by Yale's Christopher Lebron found the journal has not in its history published any articles on race or otherwise published works by black authors.
This development is a reminder that policies still remain in many areas of higher ed that prevent scholars of color from advancing through the academy — recent data has shown only 6% of faculty nationwide are black, 4% Hispanic and 10% Asian or Pacific Islander. Among full-time faculty, only 3% are black, 3% Hispanic, and 9% Asian/Pacific Islander.
But even more than that, it is a reminder that at all levels of schooling, populations often most affected are left out of conversations about how to solve problems they face. On issues of race and cultural competency, too often it is experts of other cultures who are brought in to consult and provide expert commentary and training, while the voices of students, staff and administrators of color remain silenced. Discussions about what's best for schools and learning often happen way above the individual school level and don't include teachers. Increasingly, faculty members, fewer and fewer of whom are full-time or tenure-track, are left out of discussions about curriculum.
The biggest takeaway from this journal faux pas is the need to ensure that a wide range of voices not only have a seat at the table where discussions are being had, but their voices are heard and respected. And beyond that, to resist the urge to rely solely on the expertise of individuals who may have studied an issue but who lack the lived experiences of the individuals affected.
- Inside Higher Ed Analyzing Black Lives Matter without black people involved
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