Absent From The Academcy

A great documentary about the absence of Black academics within the UK higher educational terrain. Excellent piece!

2 thoughts on “Absent From The Academcy

  1. Thanks for sharing this; I enjoyed it a lot. Especially now that I have the phrase “Neoliberal Kool-aid” to use in my everyday life 😀 .

    Do you have experience in both the US and the UK? Do you agree that the US is more “open,” as one of the professors was saying? Considering the percentages, the US does seem to be better off, but I’m not used to thinking that way, haha.

    “Black history is not for anyone in particular”… this is so true. While the validation and respect that comes with learning Black history or La Raza studies is a powerful experience for people in minoritized groups, incorporating “Black history” into our history is an important part of creating justice and slowly uprooting assumptions of inferiority.

    I’m still figuring out what that means, because it is not always going to be pleasant for people of color to hear me asserting that “Black history” is also my history… in many ways more so than the history of the founding fathers. I don’t have a blood connection to either history, as far as I know. But questions of how identity works into all of this is too much to deal with in a reply to your post ☺

    Other things that stuck out to me:

    The importance of mentorship… an experience that many students of color and lower class backgrounds don’t have access to. This can be so important, as the speakers pointed out, in just knowing what steps to take in academia.

    Certain peoples are relegated to solely being “objects of inquiry” …

    Openness about racism vs. talking about culture… This goes to show that we don’t fully understand the implications of buzzwords like culture, diversity, or urban. What does it mean to call a school “diverse,” for example, if a school is almost exclusively made up of black students? Or if it is all white with one black student?

    Not to mention, it perpetuates the invisibility of white or mainstream culture: my culture clashes with what, exactly? Define “white” culture first, for once. Please.

    Thanks again for posting this. Saludos!


    • Hi Gabrielle157,

      Thank you for your very thoughtful and substantive response. I’ll try to answer some of the points/questions you raised in my response below:

      Do you have experience in both the US and the UK? Do you agree that the US is more “open,” as one of the professors was saying?
      1) My experiences to date have been primarily in the US but I’ve lived and worked in both the Midwest and South parts of North America which can often feel like an international experience. I think the phenomenon of diverse “cultural” contexts is very real under such conditions. 1a) Yes, it appears from the narrative accounts of the UK Black scholars that are working in the USA that there are greater opportunities for academic faculty of diverse backgrounds. Fueling that reality is the fact that we (the US) do have the historical advantage of a substantive Civic Rights movement. That movement has served as a model for peoples all over looking to create social justice and equal opportunity the world over. For example, some Brazilian advocates for racial equality have reaching out to lawyers with the NAACP in the United States, in an effort to get guidance and how they can address some of their racial justice issues (which historically some in positions of economic and political power within the country of Brazil contend does not exist). However, there must be diligence to ensure that gains in the areas of social equity and fair access aren’t lost under the push for a paradigm shift in the United States that wants to focus on “class” versus “racial” social conceptions.

      2) Injecting “Black history” into our overall historical record is an important part of creating justice and slowly uprooting assumptions of inferiority.” I agree with you here as well. Black history isn’t something that needs to be “made up” or something like a fairytale. It’s in fact part of our history of civilization story. I also agree that there is a tendency to present the Black narrative as a deficit model. That needs to be challenged and resisted. Not every Black person (or “another” racialized person) descended from Kings and Queens. But, when (and why) did that idea become the measuring rod for our being substantive and whole human beings?

      3) Mentorship is so important in academia. Heck!! It’s important in life generally. Having someone to steward or shepherd you through unfamiliar terrain is a pedagogical approach used for centuries. Being able to observe someone during the learning process has existed from prehistoric times progressing through apprenticeship relationships at the turn of the century. Today, we call those relationships “mentoring” or “coaching”.

      The fact is that socially, most people tend to form interpersonal relationships with people who they perceive are like them or they are comfortable associating with another person on an informal level. That is not to say that a non-Black faculty member cannot be a mentor (Lord knows I’ve had my share) but the statistical probability for a Black graduate student to have a Black faculty mentor is currently very low. That certainly can (and should) change over time but in the interim, there needs to be a “critical mass” of those faculty (e.g., Black academics) who can make the inroads to broadening the vision of the academy on multiple levels.

      Again, thank you so much for stopping by my blog page and engaging with me and my content. I really appreciate this and always enjoy reading your blog posts as well. Qué te vaya bien hermana! 🙂


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