The prompt for this week’s blog and readings have compelled me to do some reflecting on my trajectory and everything that I have done to get to this point.
I first knew I wanted to be a historian while in the 10th grade. I had the opportunity to take classes at my local community college—Contra Costa College—and was greatly influenced by several faculty of color in the History and African American Studies departments. I saw them not only challenging their students and being exemplary educators in the classroom, but also committed to serving their communities, locally and transnationally. I was drawn to the ways in which they entangled the two—community and academia. For the next 10+ years I’ve found myself working to emulate their level of activist-scholarship.

In conducting research on radical social movements and organizations, I’ve never formally thought of the work that I do as being a form of “public scholarship” but just the nature of my research and positionally as a Black woman activist-scholar. I am here, at UC Davis in the Mellon Public Scholars program, because of my commitment to creating scholarship that serves radical and progressive social movements. I am here because education, knowledge of self, consciousness raising, and history are paramount within movement work, and why I am enthused to be working with the California Department of Education (CDE) on their Ethnic Studies curriculum and standards. I see this as an opportunity to not only influence Education policy, but also a means to help shape a new generation of future activist-scholars, organizers, and public servants from the margins.

However, the readings from this week, especially those around women of color and the tenure process, have me thinking, how do I stay here? How do I work to ensure that I, like far too many WoC scholars that have come before me, am not pushed out of academia? Many of the readings from this week spoke to the need for the academy and institutions to re-examine its policies and standards regarding tenure promotion. It was refreshing to see scholars and administration from UNC calling for the inclusion of public scholarship and service in the tenure review process, a change that would certainly validate the tireless work many WoC scholars undertake with little to no recognition. While this report was exciting to read, as someone that would like to one day land a tenure-track job, I also began to think back on my first blog entry where I began sharing some of my apprehension around the institutionalizing, gatekeeping, and appropriating happening with “public scholarship.” How do we work to ensure that the work of WoC is not excluded from this burgeoning field and new policies? As we’ve seen traditional fields and neoliberal institutions co-opting ideas and using them against the very communities that they were created for and/or by.