Black feminism

Antiracist Scholar-Activism: Critical Race Theory and Public Scholarship

The Scholar Denied: W.E.B. DuBois and the Birth of Modern Sociology by Aldon D. Morris

Regardless of the venue, scholar-activism is a dual learning-teaching experience premised on the use of knowledge for the liberation of the oppressed.

Recent officer-involved shootings prompted a group of social scientists led by Abigail Sewell at Emory University to initiate the Race and Policing Project. This effort begins with a compilation of 100 articles of recent research on race and policing. I had the opportunity to summarize some of this research for Racism Review with an infographic and create an annotated bibliography.

Why Do Police Kill Black Males With Impunity

The next step for those who are interested is to apply to contribute to the Race and Policing project in one of four capacities:

  1. Editorial Board – help the project grow as it continues
  2. Working Group – create content for race and policing project
  3. Community Member – keep updated on the project’s progress
  4. Contributor – provide or suggest content

Typically, people think of the academia and activism as separate spheres. Scholars who work in the legacy of critical race theory, however, advocate for the use of science for the progress of the people. The race and policing project operates as a form of antiracist scholar-activism. Antiracist scholar-activism involves the use of what sociologist Aldon Morris calls ‘liberation capital‘ in his book The Scholar DeniedW. E. B. Du Bois and the Birth of Modern Sociology 

Liberation capital is a form of capital used by oppressed and resource-starved scholars to ignited and sustain the research program of a nonhegemonic scientific school (Morris 2015: p. 188) 

In the digital era, scholar-activists can use their liberation capital to manage blogs. Typically, these digital platforms serve as the catalyst for larger projects whether they be books, conferences, or even the creation of associations/organizations. Thus, the digital labor of scholar-activists serves the purpose of linking the social media public to research useful for their liberation.

This includes using other platforms like Youtube, Twitter, and Facebook which sociologist Rashawn Ray has done with his new #DocYourChange. Ray’s use of digital video as a scholar-activist puts a voice and face behind critical race theory. Therefore, Ray offers a stark contrast to people who perform scholarship on social media for the exploitation rather than the education of the people.

So what can the people do with a scholar-activist’s research?

  1. Read more work by scholar-activists. Visit your local library, buy their books on Amazon, or follow their blog/social media page.
  2. Cite the policy suggestions in research by scholar-activists in letters to their representatives to get legislation changed.
  3. Invite scholar-activists to speak individually or on an a panel at your workplace, social organization, newsroom or university.
  4. Hire scholar-activists as consultants in social projects developed for the betterment of oppressed people.
  5. Create digital content based on the work of scholar-activists (be sure not to violate copyright laws in doing so). For example, I developed the infographic above developed in concert with the original authors. Additionally, I used all images that were royalty-free and labeled for reuse.

My personal contribution includes developing and maintaining social media pages dedicated to antiracist scholarship. This includes the Critical Race Initiative Twitter and Facebook page. The Critical Race Initiative involves critical race as praxis including an annual symposium, a writing group, and brownbag seminars.

I also use my personal page for antiracist scholar-activism. For example, I recently tweeted an #antiracismsyllabus, a list of books that provides insight into the principles and history of antiracism. My scholar-actvisim has afforded me numerous opportunities to connect with the public  and other scholars beyond the digital spheres as well. This includes panels, conferences, and publications. Regardless of the venuehowever, scholar-activism is a dual learning-teaching experience premised on the use of knowledge for the liberation of the oppressed.

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