Addressing Privilege and Anti-Blackness in Research Culture

Asking Different Questions logo in pink and black

This Asking Different Questions working group invites participants to consider how white supremacy persists in our research culture at a virtual discussion on July 14 from 1-2pm.  (RSVP here.)

What are we doing to address ongoing anti-Blackness and amend for generations of exclusion? How must our departments, professional organizations, research systems, mentoring practices, and administrative structures change? We will share resources to learn and identify sites for personal and collective action. 

Protests against police violence and the legacies of anti-blackness have sparked new conversations about the systemic racism faced by the Black community, including in universities. #ShutdownAcademia and #ShutdownSTEM challenge those working in higher education to take action against anti-Blackness in their teaching, research, daily practices, and administrative structures. Black scholars share their stories of racism under the hashtags #BlackintheIvory and call for researchers to #AmplifyBlackSTEM and #CiteBlackSTEM

UC Davis is not immune to these issues, as highlighted in a recent Davis Enterprise interview with Orly Clergé, an assistant professor of sociology. Our university has a very low number of Black students, particularly in STEM fields, and they continue to experience the campus as a hostile place. Deep change is needed that addresses the roots of white supremacy in higher education and counters the heightened level of surveillance Black students, staff, and faculty experience. 

This work must be rooted in the research and scholarship of Black studies, fields that emerged from the demands of an earlier generation of civil rights activism in academia. Suggested reading lists, thinking tools, and other resources abound, including at the UC Davis library and from the UC Davis Diversity, Equity and Inclusion office. Academic presses are making books and articles on racial inequality freely available. These include, but are not limited to, Duke University Press, NYU PressMIT Press, and Verso Press. At UC Davis, Dr. Tessa Hill led efforts to create a UC Davis STEM Faculty Resource Guide for faculty learning about equity, inclusion, justice, and anti-racism. Academics for Black Survival and Wellness created online trainings on anti-Black racism and white supremacy.

This upcoming Asking Different Questions conversation will augment our efforts toward self-education and create community in our efforts to redress the legacies of white supremacy in academia. Zoom information for the session will be sent out with RSVP. 

Asking Different Questions is an NSF-funded project run by the Feminist Research Institute. The project is dedicated to providing STEM graduate students with the intellectual tools to integrate a commitment to justice into their research.