Academic Anti-Racism

This post diverts from the purpose of the blog, but it is important to me to make my stance clear.

My week (last week) started at the Society for the Improvement of Psychological Science (SIPS) meeting on Monday and Tuesday. Two big takeaways were a desire to decolonize/diversify my teaching, course by course, and another to switch to a “The New Statistics” style undergrad statistics course focusing on Estimation rather than Hypothesis Testing. Consider these recorded here for posterity.

Later in the week, I read Dr. Simine Vazire’s incredibly timely piece on her experiences and opinions in the peer review process in psychology, and I was somehow taken by surprise. It seems like the message that something is deeply broken and has been for decades shouldn’t come as a surprise, especially given how snipey and ego-based early academic publishing was. It shouldn’t be surprising that the system that came out of that culture is also heavily ego-laden and interested in keeping up the status quo. No disrespect to the current editorship, but Dr. Vazire’s piece makes me wish so hard to have seen the world in which she was selected to EIC Psychological Science.

Though (white) academics like to think of ourselves and our institutions as bastions of open-mindedness and Liberal/Liberating Arts, it’s pretty clear by now that the academy is just as racist as every other place in American (and Western, even global?) society. White members of the academy may not feel that we are racists, but we’ve waited far too long to become actively anti-racist. The act of restructuring our system begins with decolonizing our courses. Then, effortfully and without tokenizing, hire and promote and recommend and award BIPOC faculty whenever you can. Maybe we discuss a racism checklist for reviewers in the short term, then entertain real ways to completely change the system in the long term (paying reviewers and establishing some system for reviewer recruitment randomized within subdiscipline seems to do a lot at once).

Edit: Can’t wait to work on the suggestions from this excellent Inside Higher Ed article!

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