Roxanne Gay Agenda

Brie Scolaro, LMSW

I posted about my final project last week, so this week I use my post to speak in response to the podcast, Hear to Slay: We Don’t Have The Same Job (with Patricia Matthew, and Dr. Nina Banks),” and will use my comments to support the projects of my peers.

But first…centering the voices of these amazing Black Womxn…

“Having a PhD doesnt mean you have a job. And having a job doesnt mean you keep that job”…regarding the fact that when someone like Cornell West doesnt even know where he is gonna go to seek security. Dr. West was offered the beefiest package except for tenure (in reference to blocks to tenure at Harvard).

Academia is vastly different for Black and Brown scholars than it is for White individuals. The major structural inequality highlighted by Roxanne Gay is that of achieving tenure in academia. Tenure means security. Tenure means we want you, we invest in you, long term, and no matter what you do, stand for, or say, we back you.

Tricia Matthew and Dr. Nina Banks, Roxanne’s guest speakers, highlight two messages that have stuck with me in particular and that I think are worth all of us knowing about and/or discussing.

The message is that White academics, “want you to do or be what affirms the path they took to get here. When you do not affirm this, you threaten this.”

This speaks not to the institutional structure of the university, but the culture of White supremacy within.

The notion to affirm the path of White individuals directly relates to second message around the concept of “pet or threat.”

White folx demand BIPOC to be their pet in the work, almost like an object to possess or to make them feel good, but while also always holding the power and a (false) feeling of inherent superiority. And if not pet, then threat.

The positions of Black and Brown folx within academia is a precarious one for these reasons and more. Even when holding the experience, the expertise, the Black womxn in this podcast, Roxanne and Tricia, share how they are constantly have thwt expertise devalued, are offered “mentorship” by White folx without being asked, are expected to speak on behalf of all Black folx, are hired for administrations to fill a checkmark as opposed to finding true worth in ones academic/research knowledge. 

Kudos to Katina for assigning podcasts like these in this DH class. I can imagine it is uncommon in the DH space, and I think it is awesome to be challenging business as usual and doing that work. Love the dialogue in and around this class and look forward to actually continuing to hold space with yall.

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