NCTE/CCCC Cross-Caucus Present Tense Special Issue
“Diversity is not an End Game: BIPOC Futures in the Academy”
Edited by Ersula Ore, Kimberly Wieser, & Christina Cedillo
To situate diversity as the end game or final destination is to diminish the potential for an equitable future for higher education. Diversity is not a box to be checked or a certificate to be awarded; diversity is not “more diversity appointments.” When equity is pursued as the latest institutional and/or intellectual trend, reasoned as work best left to minorities (O’Meara et al. 2018), perceived as a goal, tool, or means to an end as opposed to an ongoing “holistic approach to change” (Dugan 2021), then equity becomes yet another modality through which whiteness is reified as the main determinant of social and professional worth—and full humanity. Diversity proves an elusive aim so long as it remains performative and tied to spectacle rather than accountability and concrete praxis. Furthermore, as long as this superficial add-and-stir, bait-and-switch mentality is the norm, the futures of BIPOC in the academy remain precarious.
A big part of what shuts down the development of BIPOC futures is the constant recourse to white time. White time refers to temporalities that privilege whitestream bodies, meaning bodies that have not been saddled with racial, disabled, class, and access stereotypes that permit institutions to weed us out by extracting, transfering, depleting, our time through structures that normalize the denial of our very real, human needs (Mills, 2014; Rafkin, 2017; Cooper, 2017; Ore & Houdek, 2020; Carey, 2020). What little time and life energy we can dedicate to education and the profession must be spent justifying our presence and fighting for respect, while white colleagues’ time can be dedicated to career advancement and research that furthers white aims. This is by design, since the same white national time (Ore & Houdek, 2020) that precludes the construction of Black subjectivities undergirds the space and time of our institutions. At the same time, white modes of time and space make diversity work a matter of reactionary crisis response, staunching the bleeding now with minimal effort while doing little to ensure that the violence that continually injures BIPOC stops. And believe us when we say that students from our communities notice (Whittaker, Montgomery, and Martinez Acosta 2015).
Reading the academy’s recent push for diversity and inclusion initiatives in response to the 2020 surge of US anti-Black violence amidst Trump’s 2020 ban on diversity training, and Biden’s 2021 executive order revoking it, this special issue gives voice to how higher education’s reactionary push for diversity treats diversity as a conclusive point to be reached as opposed to an ongoing practice of deliberative living. This proposed issue also explores the buzzword of “diversity” as a modality of whiteness that sustains the white habitus of the university through institutional modes of performative allyship and offers challenges to diversity discourse, mandates, and initiatives, etc. that serve as modalities of the same.
This special issue will focus on how rhetorical gestures of solidarity and support can actually foreclose BIPOC futurity/ies by setting limits on the amount of work that must really be done to enact change, and by dictating what said futures should entail. We invite a variety of genres and approaches to this issue from BIPOC scholars that include individual or collaborative vignettes; testimonials and critical ethnographic pieces; interviews; artwork with description/commentary; letters to the younger self or the academy; and video, podcast, spoken word and free-style or other multimodal-oriented commentary that dares to pose a radical alternative tomorrow. We call for pieces that deliberately center the voices of those most affected and reclaim time (Waters, 2017; Carey 2020) for BIPOC in ways that ensure that the structures that we build for ourselves will survive. We ask that formal essays, testimonials, and other print-based texts be no longer than 2,000-2,500 words. Accepted pieces are due no later than July 18, 2021.
This issue pursues answers for how BIPOC in the academy can build towards futures while on foundations of precarity. To this end, we seek 150-300-word abstracts from BIPOC scholars that address the question with attention to them following:
- How do we humanize the academy when much of diversity work relies on notions of white time, efficiency, and the reduction of the human component?
- How do we avoid using white time to do quick-fix diversity work even as we respond to crises that demand immediate attention?
- How do women of color dream of a future in the academy when already burdened by unrecognized labor?
- How does white performative allyship in the university allow institutions to get away with denying/limiting the time of BIPOC?
- How do we build toward the future on a foundation of precarity?
- The institutional push for diversity often heightens BIPOC’s desire for flight. What practical measures would actually invite BIPOC to stay?
- Throughout its tenure, the US university has been a settler-colonial ecological-dead zone (Wieser, 2016) built through Black and Indigenous genocide. In the age of COVID and yet-again rising hate crimes, how can we fight university necropolitics to envision living, thriving futures?
All abstracts must be accompanied by an 25-75 author’s bio that includes institution, rank, department, and research interests.
Please email abstracts and author bios to Ersula Ore at firstname.lastname@example.org by April 20, 2021 no later than 11:59 MST.
Accepted submissions are due July 18, 2021