Invisible Jim Crow: An Interview with Michael Tillotson

Article excerpt

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Michael Tillotson is a graduate of Indiana University in Bloomington where he earned the A.A. and B.A. He holds the M.A. in Africana Studies from the State University of New York at Albany. He is a 2008 graduate of Temple University's department of African American Studies where he received his PhD. From 2008-2010 he was a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the African American Studies program at the University of Houston. In the fall of 2011 he joined the faculty in the Department of Africana Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. His articles have appeared in the leading scholarly journals in the field of African American Studies: The Journal of Black Studies, Africalogical Perspectives, The Journal of Pan African Studies, The Journal of African American Studies and the Quarterly Review at the Institute of Race and Social Thought. His latest book Invisible Jim Crow: Contemporary Ideological Threats to the Internal Security of African Americans is published by Africa World Press and was awarded the '"Best Scholarly Book Award" for 2011 by the Diopian Institute for Scholarly Advancement. His current research agenda centers on the intersection of anti-egalitarian ideologies and their influence on the contemporary intra-racial social landscape of African Americans.

Karanja Keita Carroll (KKC): Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to participate in this interview. As a warrior-scholar within the discipline of Africana/Black Studies, it is an honor to have you participate in this interview with the Journal of Pan African Studies (JPAS) on your recent publication Invisible Jim Crow: Contemporary Ideological Threats to the Internal Security of African Americans (2011).

Michael Tillotson (MT): Thank you Dr. Carroll and the editorial board for offering me the opportunity to speak with you and the JPAS readers.

KKC: Can you explain to our readers the genesis of this book? How did it come about? When do you remember the first seed for this text was planted? When after did you see it blossom and do you believe it has been well-received from those within and outside of Africana/Black Studies?

MT: The title of the book, Invisible Jim Crow: Contemporary Ideological Threats to the Internal Security of African Americans, speaks to a vitally important area moving forward in the 21st century. Henceforth, after examining the contemporary Zeitgeist of the Black American in the United States from 1980-2007, I set out to bring forth a text with content relative to issues and ideas that affect this population's unique reality. The book is a response to contemporary anti-egalitarian ideological conditions that needed illumination from an African-centered location. The work is concerned with cultivating collective agency, recovery, and transformation in the Black world. The ideas in the text provide information that offers an informed perspective so the reader can make enlightened decisions about the nature of reality for Black Americans in contemporary American society.

Institutionally speaking at the time of this interview, the text is being used at Cal-State Northridge, Temple University, the University of Pittsburgh, and the University of Chicago Charter School. The work is required reading for the National Association of Kawaida Organizations (NAKO) in New York. The information in the book is currently being cited by African centered thinkers in published works. There is an expanding cadre of community groups that are working with the text which is quite rewarding on many levels. Domestically, the work is experiencing active requests for lectures and presentations in both academic settings and community group forums. This reality dovetails with the credo of Africana Studies: "Academic Excellence and Social Responsibility."

KKC: You have forewords to this book by Molefi Kete Asante and Lewis Gordon. Can you explain how they both contributed to some of the major arguments discussed within this text? …