Between Activism and Academia: Black Studies Legacies at Yale

By Redmond, Shana L. | The Western Journal of Black Studies, Summer 2010 | Go to article overview

Between Activism and Academia: Black Studies Legacies at Yale


Redmond, Shana L., The Western Journal of Black Studies


"Scholars have an obligation not just to interpret but to act."

-Manning Marable (2000, p. 189)

The growth of Black Studies has been documented by numerous scholars in the field, many of whom grew intellectually with the student protests of the late 1960s (Alkalimat, 1990; Karenga, 1982; Marable, 2000). A new cohort of intellectuals is now coming together to put forth an agenda for the discipline in our contemporary moment of social and political crisis: the post-Affirmative Action, neo-liberal moment. This moment is also constitutive of a professional crisis; as the U.S. political system and social culture bend toward conservativism, so too do our intellectual institutions and our students, much to the detriment of our careers in the profession. The assault on truly liberal programs within U.S. colleges and universities necessitates the buttressing of Black Studies as a location for radical inquiry and conscientious effort within and between our communities. I will discuss Black Studies at Yale University with attention paid to the ways in which its scholars and students understand the New Haven community and the academy at large. Through that focus I articulate my investment in Black Studies as a site in which to address pressing intellectual, material, and political conditions within U.S. and global societies as well as a pivot point in the struggle against the supreme individualism and isolation of a professionalized class of intellectuals in the U.S. academy.

The Corporate Academy, Race, and Labor

The academy is a particular site of contradiction within U.S. society, especially with respect to its relationship to studies of race and to the bodies who produce fields of knowledge about race. Scholars from my own institution have been vocal about the intersections of race, class, and the academy, particularly through writings about academic labor. This focus on class and labor is a necessary component of Black Studies scholarship. Scholars like Manning Marable (1983) have pushed Black Studies towards a needed political economy analysis but we as academics additionally have to address a sphere closer to home; in addition to economic effects in the broader society, the academy has become a battlefront in the critique of neo-liberalism and U.S. labor practices. Scholars of Black Studies at Yale have played an important role in addressing this issue. Yale graduates Michelle Stephens (Robins & Stephens, 1996) and Cynthia Young (1996) warrant notice for their scholarship, but additionally for their vocal commitment to enacting an engaged critique of this complicated intersection which places undue demand and stress on the lives and professional opportunities for scholars of color. Their work highlights the important function of identity politics in the maintenance of the corporate university; they are used to delimit who teaches, what is taught, and who receives instruction. The conditions under which these women taught and studied while at Yale sheds some light on their acute sense of labor's work in the production of knowledge and power relations.

During their graduate careers, both Stephens and Young were leaders in the Graduate Employees and Students Organization (GESO), a union of graduate teachers founded in the interest of entering into contractual relations with Yale University. Labor actions, coalition-building, and research characterizes much of the work of the organization which is persistently denied the right of collective bargaining by the University. The involvement of these women in the organization made way for me and other people of color to advance a multi-faceted approach to labor which has recently addressed issues of the under-representation of faculty of color in the academy (2004-2005) as well as mount a public campaign for prison divestment by colleges and universities (2005-2006). For me, these projects exposed the critical role of activism in Black Studies and it is this dialectic in the discipline which sustains my investment in the academy. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Between Activism and Academia: Black Studies Legacies at Yale
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.