In an effort to include all of the voices of people who started this project, we decided to make this section dedicated to our reasons WHY…
As most novel creations form these days, this project began as a post on Facebook. That’s right…
I’ve never been very shy about critiquing academia. Years in this space have taught me how Black voices are undervalued, underrepresented, and buried behind the idea and imagery of whiteness in scholarship. We still have quite a long way to go in dismantling how we position the idea of purity and acclaim alongside whiteness and, predominantly, maleness.
That post was a bitter seed of turmoil over the death of George Floyd and America coming to grips with very racist realities. I have seen the breadth of freedom ringing disturbingly loudly for those who don’t look like me – those who look like my father, a white man. I am the biracial (Black/white) echo in the room that screams for change. This project is how I exercise that voice.
The post referenced above was shared on a tenure-track moms group on Facebook. I suppose during the COVID-19 mayhem many of us clung to the platform’s community features (groups) to find connections and support each other. Rachael, my first team member for this project, saw the post and described how she wanted to make representation of Black authors a requirement for the articles her group publishes, and that a centralized resource could help make that possible for many academics. I love to know that there is interest like that! After an exchange about how we could build on this idea, I shared a concept long put on the backburner: a website dedicated to Black authors with their citations to use in research papers. Oddly (or perhaps just fitting) the domain CiteBlackAuthors.com was available (in retrospect, Cite Black Scholars may have been more catchy, but that was taken). Rachael immediately jumped on board. We asked for others to join and quickly gained a robust team! Editors, graduate students, long-time friends, and the husband of my faculty senate buddy who happens to do web development all came together to make this happen.
I adore this team for every ounce of themselves that they bring to the site. It is voluntary labor (LABOR yall) of love. What began as an idea quickly transformed into a massive project (we are accepting help — join the team, seriously).
My “why” is likely very simple: I want to see the world authored by people who build it. I long for everyone to read and associate scholarship with every hue, not just white and male. I am encouraging the extension of this project to anyone who wants to build databases that help us cite people of color, a group largely missing from academic publications. I’m very much invested in Black people and how we are represented in academic journals and books; the logical addition to that is being regarded as experts within our fields. It’s time. It’s past time. Let’s cite Black authors and enrich our research.
I’ve asked the members of this team to add in their WHY.
Like so many, I am fed up. I am tired of waiting for change. We know that the standard approach to academic citation practice will elevate the majority and suppress the minority. We know that equity will not be achieved without changing our default approaches, which I succumb to myself. I want to change citation practices by destroying excuses. “It’s hard,” “It takes too long,” “I can’t find the right name or the right topic,” or “I searched and nothing came up on google” – these are solvable problems, and this website will help remove barriers to enable equitable citation practices. Speaking more personally, as a white scientist, I am acutely aware that I benefit from systematic racism that oppresses those who do not share my skin color. It is my hope that this effort will reduce the activation energy needed to overcome implicit bias and institutional racism, to elevate Black scholars and their voices to the forefront of academia.
As a female, African immigrant, I have always been privy to a different perspective than many of my peers. Growing up in this country has exposed me to the inequalities that people of color face in various aspects of their lives. Specifically, I became aware of the struggles that many Black scholars are experiencing today. Seeing first-hand the racial disparities that exist for Black researchers has made me cognizant of the urgent need for change within the academic community. Cite Black Authors (CBA) is an initiative that presents an opportunity for such change. It has been said that knowledge is power, and I firmly agree. In the words of Nelson Mandela, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” I chose to join CBA because it uses information as a platform for fighting injustice. It does this by providing a database by which individuals can access the publications of Black scholars and information on other social justice initiatives. This not only elevates Black voices but advocates for them as well. The CBA initiative is a double-edged sword: educating and empowering. With such a capable weapon, I believe change can be achieved within this generation.
As an international student from Nigeria, I have grown in my appreciation for the tremendous sacrifices that Black students and scholars made in years gone by and continue to make so that I could feel safe, welcome, and valued at two predominantly white institutions (PWIs) in Texas. I believe that I should join like-minded people who are working to solidify the place of Black students and scholars in the academy, people who are working to make that place permanent and prominent.
My interest in Cite Black Authors came from conversations with my long-time friend Jennifer Sadler (Leading Team Member) where we frequently spoke about the importance of uplifting and giving space for Black authors in white-centric spaces – like Contemplative Practices and Mindfulness in Higher Education. As a Black woman from the south who had a history of mindfulness and meditation steeped into my life from both an African and South Asian perspective, I found myself frequently showing up in academic spaces that did not reflect the inherent historical and cultural practices indigenous peoples from around the world created, cultivated, and innovated. I knew something had to be done. I am excited to be on a team of intentional scholars whose focus is on equity and inclusion in academia.
I joined Cite Black Authors because I believe in the saliency and urgency of amplifying Black scholarly voices within academia, particularly in my field of study, Art History. In a moment in history when Black culture is continuously threatened by misrepresentation, appropriation, and shallow consumption, it is critical to give primacy to those with lived experiences who are courageous enough to share their perspectives embedded within their scholarly work. I hope that this database serves as a productive space for the empowerment of Black academic voices.
I joined Cite Black Authors because I’m passionate about helping put Black authors’ work in front of readers’ eyes. As an editor, I’ve worked with authors who wanted to be sure to cite Black authors but didn’t know how to find them. It was difficult to find resources, so I’m thrilled to help create something that’s needed. I hope that this project begins to counteract the structural racism in Academia.