some of us are brave

The Feminist Wire Forum on Black (Academic) Women’s Health

Black academic women and health can seem like a narrow topic living at the axis of too many intersections to be of interest to many people.

And, that may be right.

It would also be the point.

I was asked two months ago to serve as guest editor of a two week forum on just such a topic for the amazing team at The Feminist Wire.

We were overwhelmed with responses for a forum that doesn’t count towards tenure, does not pay, and won’t get anyone a google citation or literature index. That so many women took a small window of opportunity to share their work, their essays, their data, and their stories should tell you that that something in the academic milk ain’t clean.

Black women in the Ivory Tower want to talk about what that means for them and to them.

And you should care for the same reason coal miners care about a canary.

Fears about what adjunct labor means for aging tenured faculty at prestigious universities is not unfounded. If you want to know what your future career in academe looks like? Look at the work lives of black women in higher education. We’ve borne the brunt of contract labor, fluctuating schedules, lack of health insurance, and prestigious poverty for decades now. You can be forgiven for not knowing that. Few of the stories ringing the alarm about the decline of autonomy, prestige, opportunities, and career security for those with advanced degrees rarely examine the gendered, racialized patterns in those numbers. But that does not mean we aren’t there, first and most, plugging away because we care about our work, our intellectual lives, and our students.

But we also want to be able to work and live.

And trust me, I study this, they will come for you next with an offer to teach an extra class with fewer resources, to take a higher insurance deductible, to split your teaching between two campuses, to donate the intellectual capital in your syllabus to a free online class, to stay later for less.

If you don’t care about the health of black women in the academy? Care about your own.

It has been a privilege to contribute to this project. Follow the essays over the next ten days. Join the conversation. SHARE the conversation. And be well.


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This entry was posted on October 29, 2012 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , .
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