By Elise Harris
Last week, as academia took a much-needed break from “business as usual” during #ShutDownAcademia to engage in praxis–action and reflection–in solidarity with the fight for humanizing Black lives, I found myself revisiting the “OG” Black female scholars who pushed and persisted in academic spaces to humanize how Black children, youth, families, and people live and thrive. I also felt a sense of gratitude for their persistence and making space so that I, an African American woman scholar, can stand and make space for a new generation of brilliant Black scholars. These OG’s pursued academia, navigating the hidden curricula, pushing against “business as usual” while making fugitive spaces for upcoming scholars, and equipping us with the tools to persist while subverting the system...Subtly teaching us that the power of the pen and being in control of producing our narratives is key to our liberation.
Although we #ShutDownAcademia to fight systemic racism, Black scholars “been been on,” reflecting and acting in ways to make institutions better for the Black community.
Yet, Black scholars’ work goes uncited or decentered in conversations across disciplines. Not only are our intellectual contributions left off of syllabi, we serve within universities, leading intradepartmental Diversity Equity and Belonging initiatives, teaching white students, colleagues, and others about institutional racism - labor that’s highlighted in university brochures, but goes unrecognized when being considered for tenure. Additionally, though many Black faculty love to support their students, they often bear the silent load of supporting Black students and other POC within departments where they are “included” but do not feel they belong.
For this labor of love, I am compelled to recognize the OG scholars. I want them to know that they are loved, that we see them, and that we thank them for their labor. Their work is not invisible to us. We walk in your legacy.
On the heels of #ShutDownAcademia, NYU Metro Center seeks to #UpliftBlackScholarship with our Twitter campaign to spotlight the intellectual contributions of Black scholars who have been working to counternarratize and humanize academia for the Black community. This spotlight series lifts up the work of Black scholars who are making a difference in our communities, rejecting deficit interpretation by showing the world Black ways of knowing, being, joy, love, and learning.
With our twitter campaign to spotlight the intellectual contributions of Black scholars who have been working to counternarratize and humanize academia for the Black community. This spotlight series lifts up the work of Black scholars who are making a difference in our communities, rejecting deficit interpretation by showing the world Black ways of knowing, being, joy, love, and learning.
Elise Harris is an Assistant Director of Evaluation on Metro Center’s Policy Research and Evaluation (PRE) team. Her primary area of research focuses on schooling practices and critical consciousness among youth, educators, and researchers. She leads PRE’s Exploring Youth Leadership Councils Study which is a four year, mixed methods study that examines whether and how youth leadership councils (YLCs), a type of youth-adult partnership, foster developmental competencies and critical consciousness, both of which are associated with school engagement and later postsecondary outcomes. Elise earned a BS in Psychology from Xavier University, a MA in Human Development and Social Intervention from New York University, and a PhD in Child Study and Human Development from Tufts University.