The movement against the systematic racism and police violence that brutalizes black people (especially men) has catalyzed in the last few weeks in response to the murders of George Floyd (and Breonna Taylor). Many in the academy have heralded this as a moment to incite revolutionary change in our society. Yet all too often we turn a blind eye to ways in which our own discourses (even supposedly anti-racist ones) mask the ways we participate in practices that perpetuate the erasure of black voices and bodies in our own academic communities and institutions. In particular, US liberal arts colleges have been all too often prone to creating a hostile environment for black men in both discourse and practice.
Today we discuss this deeply problematic situation with Tommy Curry, a leader and founder of Black Male Studies (BMS). BMS creates a much needed space to theorize about racially subjugated males and to build places for interdisciplinary scholars devoted to the subject in the academy, especially black scholars (and other scholars of color) in the field who find all too little support and mentorship for their work. Curry has co-launched the first book series in the field with Temple University Press. He is also the author of The Man-Not: Race, Class, Genre, and the Dilemmas of Black Manhood (Temple University Press 2017), which won the 2018 American Book Award, and of Another white Man’s Burden: Josiah Royce’s Quest for a Philosophy of Racial Empire (SUNY Press 2018).
In the podcast, we explore the limitations of academic discourse, including what it misses in the current movement against racist police brutality and white supremacy, and what it misses about its own communities and the way it structural dismisses the experiences of black men. Curry provides us insight into how BMS built a field that respects and draws on these experiences and provides the mentorship and resources to cultivate, support, and mentor black scholars and teachers.