What is it like to be a Black professor in the US? | The Stream


The board of trustees at the University of North Carolina (UNC) last month denied acclaimed journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones a tenured position, despite backing by the university’s tenure committee.

The board said it based the decision on the belief that Hannah-Jones had become too controversial due to the New York Times Magazine “1619 Project”, a series she edited that re-examined the legacy of slavery in the US.

The news shocked many given Hannah-Jones won a Pulitzer Prize for the project and had the full support of the UNC journalism department. Lawyers for Hannah-Jones have set a June 4th deadline for the board to reconsider.

The controversy has stirred up unrest online and in academia beyond UNC. Some 200 academics and cultural figures published a letter last week denouncing the decision. The incident has also sparked a wider conversation about Blackness in academia and the struggles professors of colour can face working in higher education. Black academics make up about 4 percent of full-time professors in the US.

In this episode of The Stream, we talk to a group of Black professors about the UNC case and their experiences of teaching in higher education.

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