Thursday, May 14, 2009
Dr.Boyce Watkins dismissed
Hello to my friends,
In case you don't know, my tenure case was denied, which means I'll be dismissed by Syracuse University. I personally am not offended, as I didn't expect to receive tenure after the attacks by Bill O'Reilly last year and the work I've done speaking out on behalf of NCAA athletes (Syracuse earns tens of millions from athlete families and likely lost alumni donations after the Bill O'Reilly attacks - I stand by every word, however, since I won't allow a racist like O'Reilly to speak of lynching Michelle Obama or any other Black woman for that matter). Additionally, our business school (The Whitman School of Management) has not, to my knowledge, recommended tenure for any African American, in any department, in its entire 100 years of operating history (I can't concur with the conclusion that every Black scholar on the planet is unqualified to be here). So, while we can say all we want about elusive and idealistic concepts such as academic freedom, most scholars understand that the rules change when you are an outspoken Black man with no significant Black male power presence on your campus. My role was to support pre-existing intellectual, social and administrative paradigms, not to engage in active, progressive scholarship.
But the goal of this interview is not to talk so much about my tenure case, since I don't need tenure in order to be validated as a scholar (I get supportive email every day). The goal is to speak on behalf of my colleagues, many of whom are absolutely petrified of standing up to the administration in public (they typically agree with me behind closed doors and then say that they can't go public without being punished). A supportive senior colleague (who is not Black, by the way) made it clear to me that if I do not stand up on these issues, then it may be another 100 years before another Black scholar has the platform to do so. Being that I was the only African American on earth to get a PhD in Finance in 2002, I am used to fighting battles alone. I am willing to sacrifice the rest of my academic career in order to do so, for I see this as a great opportunity to help others.
But I stand out of respect and love, not out of hate or anger. Anyone familiar with the history of Syracuse University knows that racial progress has never come without struggle, so this is my opportunity to contribute to the legacy left by Jim Brown, my respected brother and spiritual predecessor. I would not be here were it not for the sacrifices of those before me.
So, this is the first of a series of conversations I plan to have on this topic, as my discussions with Cornel West and others have helped me to realize that what I am experiencing at Syracuse is not an idiosyncratic phenomenon. Academia is racially sick, and we must all give it the necessary medicine.
The first interview will be on "Make it Plain with Mark Thompson" on Sirius 146 and XM 167 at 6:30 pm EST. I hope you'll tune in. Also, if you want to see some of my commentary on AOL Black Voices, please click here. God bless.