Been wanting to talk about being “Black in the Revolution”, I figured it would be good to start with the most obvious and most visible political moment and space we have today which would be the Occupy Movement. This movement was birth as an American manifestation of the spirit that gave rise to the Arab Spring that overthrew the Egyptian and Tunisian dictatorships (I still have questions about Syria and Libya…ya’ll already know my stance on that one) that sought to bring the pro-democracy spirit to America in its own way. The main slogans of the Occupy Movement are things like “Occupy Everything” and “We are the 99%”. These slogans manifested themselves quite literally in the hundreds of occupations of public parks, buildings, and central spaces across America, the rest of the western hemisphere, and even in parts of Europe and Asia that are going on as we speak. They organize without leaders, using consensus democratic processes in most places, and seek to create the basis for equalizing the wealth of this nation between ALL its citizens. Continue reading “The 99% Isn’t Me: Being the Minority in the 99%”
As a graduate student in sociology studying racial segregation and other forms of racial oppression, the realities of my people’s lives and deaths are a constant part of my lived experience. Part of why I became a sociologist was to do the research that uncovers hidden forms of oppression and documents avenues of resistance that my people and other oppressed people can utilize in their … Continue reading Killer Cops Won’t Wait On Your Next Article: The Role of Academics in Anti-Oppression Struggles
Not too long ago I penned a piece for Inside Higher Ed and University of Venus’ Scholars Strike Back Series about the limited discussion around academics and public engagement. My core argument was simply that we need to not only focus on increasing positive public engagement but also combating public engagement that harms the public, which in my opinion also includes our research subjects. There was one part that has had me thinking recently:
We build our careers off of studying the social life and stories of other people and are submerged in a culture that, more often than not, treats people as opportunities for information extraction and exploits research subjects. Alternatively, if we taught scholars to engage in an ethic of equivalent exchange (an idea I borrow from a favorite TV show), giving equal value to what we are obtaining, we can make sure that their participation in our work will be worth their time. Research like that of Celeste Watkins-Hayes are examples of how scholars have given back without compromising their academic goals.
I am currently finishing up my MA Thesis on how residents of segregated communities define the border of their communities in relation to others around them. One of the big findings was that respondents used personal experiences as well as “taken-for-granted” knowledge about the city to define their borders. Because this project is taking place in my home community it got me thinking about all the little bits of social knowledge that black folks in Buffalo use everyday to navigate their lives and each other. Much of this knowledge comes out in conversations where we jokingly generalize the people living in our community. Contrary to the origin stories of many sociologists these conversations are what helped me develop much of my sociological imagination before I even knew what sociology was. In my mind I refer to this body of knowledge as hood sociology. Continue reading “The Hood Sociology Series”
I am in the process of choosing a PhD program to attend this fall. The job of choosing a program has been one of the most intensive things I’ve had to do since deciding to start graduate school. I mentioned in a previous article the lack of information transmission from one generation of academics to the next about how to navigate structures of advantage and disadvantage. I was … Continue reading Quick Tips on Choosing PhD Programs for POCs
I recently attended the Eastern Sociological Society annual meeting to present a paper. That paper was proposing an Africana Sociology that would use African epistemology and social thought to reimagine the sociological enterprise. My primary task at the conference was to gauge interest in such a topic so that I could get a feel for how scientifically useful/well received (interesting how those things are often the same) the project could be if I expanded it into a dissertation project. Lucky for me and my future career it was well received and in that I was very happy. My other purpose for being there was to find a reason to stay in sociology. That task wasn’t fully conscious for me until after the conference but was driven by the many bad experiences me and my peers have had in academia thus far. As I talked with people and watched presentations I realized for myself that in 2014 the fact that we’re still being abused in academia is often related to the fact that we often aren’t speaking up as much as we should and in many places POC academics aren’t organized enough to protect themselves over the long term. Continue reading “Forbidden Knowledge, Collective Action, and Marginalization in Academia”