I am at an HBCU so this is less the case for my department (although still relevant, especially as we are launching a Black Queer Studies program).
I am seeing departments and universities come out with announcements about committing (or sometimes the questionably phrased "recommitting") to anti-black racism. I am really skeptical that this will result in real change. I suspect that it will either continue the status quo or worse place even more of a burden on BIPOC faculty, staff and students.
How do we push back when institutions are only paying lip service to change?
This was inspired in large part by a colleagues at McMaster posted their letter that "[a]s Indigenous faculty and faculty of colour, we are writing to announce that we will not be attending the ECS faculty meeting scheduled for June 25th, on developing anti-racist/anti-oppressive/decolonial teaching practices and curricula in and for the department."
As they eloquently put it:
The department’s recent statement on anti-Black violence suggests that “we need to rededicate ourselves” to practicing anti-racism in our teaching and our scholarship. We agree. But we also wonder about the nature of that “we.” In teaching, we are repeatedly reminded that anti-racist & decolonial work doesn’t look the same for everyone, and this shapes every pedagogical choice we make, from the syllabus, to assignments, to the way we frame texts and issues in the classroom. Who is centered in and by our teaching? Who is centered in or by the “we” of the statement? Who is the “we” that needs rededicating, and who is the “we” that will do the work of rededication?
Here's the tweet announcing it:
Image: Screenshot of tweet by @zugenia:
My department is meeting tomorrow to discuss how to incorporate antiracism and anticolonialism into our Program Learning Outcomes. @stumpybrown, @NadineAttewell, Chandrima Chakraborty, and I have decided not to attend. Here is our letter to our colleagues: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1eEJAasMVWFMoJ77LsApoigTGA0oHTHAAz0nqmzZ5Rqo/edit?usp=sharing
Why “IPOC” faculty? Because, shamefully, there are no full-time Black faculty members in our department.
When confronted with a bad faith or otherwise problematic "solution" when do we decide not to participate in those conversations?
Other Examples after the divider.
Another Example: Avoid Calling Out (as discussed in the Day06 training video) Schools Trying to Recruit BIPOC Students to What I View as an Unsafe Enivornment
A medievalist at University of Chicago tweeted how his school is now providing more funds for BIPOC students and Black studies. Okay .... But will they still have a tenured-medievalist professor openly advertising her affiliations with far right white nationalist groups? Because that is up on her faculty webpage.
This faculty member's calls to action to far right groups means that a BIPOC faculty member had to negotiate security costs when getting a new academic job. Years after the first incident, she still regularly receives death and rape threats. And I still hear scholars openly "both sides" this and defend the aggressor.
I vented about this to someone in another discipline without naming said faculty member's name or department, and they thought I was talking about a UofC person in their field with openly far white affiliations.
Image: Screenshot of tweet mentioned:
.@uchicagoenglish "As part of our commitment to funding and fostering scholarship in Black studies, in the coming academic year (2020-2021) we are prioritizing consideration of applicants who work in and with Black studies for admission to our PhD program” https://english.uchicago.edu/news-events
Example: Just make first year's take a Critical Race Course
I've seen a lot of calls to address anti-black racism that focuses on undergraduates or on recruiting graduate students. I've seen little discussion of who is going to teach, mentor, etc those students and how/if these institutions will support them.
It reminds me when a friend was the first BIPOC person tenured in her department, which had a diversity requirement for committee memberships, which meant she received many aggressive demands from other faculty member that she service on "their" (i.e. all) committees. BIPOC and other marginalized faculty members already perform a lot of invisible and undervalued service, which rarely is "counted" when it comes to promotion and tenure.
In the long and short term, how do we support BIPOC faculty in departments, conferences, etc so that voices are heard, credit is given, and there is real change (not just superficial change covering up exploitative labor practices)?