Academic journal article Journal of Thought

Editors' Introduction: Special Issue by Sisters and Brothers of the Academy Institutes

Academic journal article Journal of Thought

Editors' Introduction: Special Issue by Sisters and Brothers of the Academy Institutes

Article excerpt

African Americans in the United States occupy an unusual space. While we are Americans, our contributions are devalued through the use of language and stories about the founding of the country. The American educational system celebrates the supremacy of Whiteness and continually adopts assessment strategies that reinforce the superiority of race and class. Simultaneously, we are also Africans. Yet, the negative connotations of Blackness deter some of us from connecting to that heritage, thereby challenging our ability to establish an authentic sense of self esteem.

Sisters of the Academy Institute (SOTA) and Brothers of the Academy Institute (BOTA) are attempts to overcome the systemic challenges that African Americans face. By providing vehicles to discuss the challenges to our health and well-being, economic success, and intellectual prowess, authentic strategies to transcend systems of domination can emerge. The BOTA Think Tank, first held in Kansas City, Kansas, during fall 2004 and then in Atlanta, Georgia, during fall 2006, is such a vehicle. By creating a bridge between local communities and members of the academy, we support the work of a new breed of scholars--community engaged scholars. Faculty members whose research or scholarly activities take place in and influence the community have a vehicle to develop new partnerships and to engage in conversations that give birth to new strategies to overcome a legacy of discrimination.

SOTA's signature event scheduled for August, 2007 was designed to facilitate the success of Black women in the academy by creating spaces

to develop the type of research skills necessary to succeed in graduate school programs and as junior faculty at research institutions. By creating mentoring networks and disseminating what we have collectively learned from our experiences in the academy, we have the ability to influence conversations, policies, and strategies that influence the quality of our existence as Black people. Furthermore, affiliations at overwhelmingly White institutions with climates not necessarily conducive to nurturing voices divergent from the mainstream are ideally less of a challenge because our disseminated voices can sustain other scholars feeling marginalized by their experiences in higher education.

The Journal of Thought has provided SOTA and BOTA with a forum to showcase some of the work underway within our organizations. As co-editors, we have collaborated to nurture the voices within SOTA and BOTA. The process of editing this volume has taken more time than the traditional editorship of a special issue because many of the voices you will read are those of emerging Black scholars. Nurturing these voices is necessary because these are the voices poised to develop more effective strategies for redressing the problems in our community.

A myriad of challenges face Black communities. These challenges are oftentimes caused by an intersection of race, gender, and poverty. Dannielle Joy Davis examines the critical role that research plays in defining policy. Davis warns against the adoption of color blindness when conducting policy research. To this end she identifies methodological strategies for conducting research, which directly examines the roles of race, class, and gender in our society. This is a necessary discussion because of recent and successful attempts to dismantle affirmative action and other race-conscious initiatives. After all, few institutions of higher education were able to achieve student or faculty diversity without considering the race and gender of applicants. Without doing so, campuses across the country would be more racially and class homogenous.

Necoal Holiday-Driver, Chippewa Thomas, and Monica Hunter highlight the impact that HIV/AIDS has on heterosexual African American women. While the world indicts developing countries for the growth in the transmission of HIV, these authors report an increase among African and Hispanic American women. …

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