Quick Tips on Choosing PhD Programs for POCs

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

Forbidden Knowledge, Collective Action, and Marginalization in Academia

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”

Africana Sociology and the Postcolonial Challenge to “Global” Sociology

WP_20140206_15_21_24_ProIn my previous post the argument was presented that at their core the social sciences are Eurocentric projects and that project of decolonization need to be undertaken to challenge this eurocentricism. The proposal that I put forth was Africana Sociology that would upend the hegemony of European social thought and place a premium on the development and use of African epistemologies and methodologies. Sine those first postings my thoughts on the prospects for an Africana Sociology and its relationship to the mainstream have changed. Continue reading “Africana Sociology and the Postcolonial Challenge to “Global” Sociology”

Building an Africana Sociology

As a sociologist-in-training and a grad student it is my job to eat, breath, and live sociology, the study of human interaction and social institutions. I spend most of my week either reading sociological pieces, listening to lectures and talks, or participating in class discussions with faculty and fellow students. Through all this we are supposed to be thoroughly indoctrinated in the sociological imagination which is the ability to see the connections between the macro and the micro, the individual and society. We assume that this imagination is universal and abiding and that terms such as society, institutions, the state, and others are also universal. What I have come to realize over time is that what I am really learning in graduate school is a European sociology and an European sociological imagination. As a person of African descent this sociology is stifling and at time hostile to my mind and humanity. Continue reading “Building an Africana Sociology”

[Interview] Breaking the Silence in the Congo with Satori Ananda

Part of our blog’s purpose is to highlight struggles for liberation and freedom going on around the world and do what we can to let everyone know about them. On that note I had the pleasure some time ago to talk with Satori Ananda, an activist and organizer working with an organization called Friends of the Congo. Their organization’s goal is to highlight the abuses, outside influences, and internal conflicts that is tearing the Congolese people apart. Their main organizing effort in this capacity is an event called Congo Week which was October 14-20th last year. They also have a speaker tour which also spreads their message across different communities. Below is an email interview done with Satori about conditions in the Congo, her organization’s involvement, and what you can do to support their efforts.

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Oppression Bias and Why It Sucks to be a Black Sociologist

The social sciences as they have developed in the western world has it as it’s goal to develop, catalog, understand, and organize human behavior. Sociology, Political Science, Psychology, Philosophy, Anthropology, Communications, and all the other social sciences seek to make sense of the social world human beings have created for themselves over the past million years of our existence. For myself, I chose to study Sociology, the study of  human interactions. Much like many of the other social sciences, it has it’s roots (in the western world, other societies have their own forms of all these fields hundreds or thousands of year before Europe) in the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution. Because the period that Sociology came into being along with other social sciences it’s focus was on Europe and interactions between European people, to the detriment of other societies and groups of people.

Europe’s barbanistic and imperialistic interactions with the rest of the world over the intervening 200 years influenced the social sciences in a way that is classist, sexist, and racist in both their theories as well as the professional practice of these fields. Examples of racism for instance infecting these fields is the “culture of poverty”, eugenics, functionalism (or at least some applications of said approach), the entire field of Anthropology, and Democratic Peace Theory.

Although in recent years, the influence of the Civil Rights/Black Power, Women’s Rights, LGBT*, Anti-Colonial, and Anti-Capitalist movements have influenced a new generation of social scientists who have not been as influenced by these oppressive circumstances, problems still remain. I can only speak for myself as an African in Sociology, but there are still great and many barriers to having the oppressed voices heard in the social sciences. especially for those of us who are practitioners of those social sciences like myself. One of the most important and basic of these barriers is what I would like to call the “Assumption of Oppression Bias”. Continue reading “Oppression Bias and Why It Sucks to be a Black Sociologist”