• Gator Quad


Updated: Oct 22, 2020

I spend lots of time lately thinking about how to be a better ally, as an individual. But as Chair of my Department, I also hold extra responsibility to our students and to colleagues and friends at Allegheny and beyond.

Last month, the #BlackInTheIvory hashtag exploded on Twitter. I spent hours reading the personal face of the well-known stats on race in academia: people accusing black profs and grad students of not doing their own work, assuming they're the janitor, devaluing their admission as mere tokenism.

Then there’s the massive under-representation: some fields have almost no black PhDs at all; countless promotions are denied despite ample qualifications.

Two threads hit especially close to home. Dr. Jason Johnson recounted his horrific experience taking PhD qualifying exams in my own field, and a grad school colleague pointedly asked how the thread would spur meaningful reforms by white readers.

So what now? By highlighting both micro-aggressions and patterns across fields and academia in general, my hours reading #BlackInTheIvory has given me lots of concrete ideas for what we can do in Allegheny’s Political Science Department, as well as how I personally can better support my students, friends, and colleagues.

~~ Shanna Kirschner (Associate Professor, Political Science at Allegheny College)

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