Journal Publishes 'Black Lives Matter' Issue Without Black Writers
The latest issue of the Journal of Political Philosophy is dedicated to the Black Lives Matter movement but does not feature any actual contributions from black people.
The journal features more than 60 pages to a three-author “symposium” on the movement but it is the symposium’s lack of black contributors that has resulted in a backlash against the publication. In the ensuing controversy, the journal has also been called out for its poor record of publishing black scholars and articles related to race.
In a report from Inside Higher Ed, two scholars in African-American studies have written open letters voicing their displeasure with the journal, Christopher Lebron and Melvin L. Rogers. The former, an assistant professor of African-American studies and philosophy at Yale University, began his letter by talking about the Black Lives Matter movement, saying:
The idea ‘black lives matter’ is an ethical demand calling for an end to the erasure of black lives and presence by systems of racist power anchored in a history of white supremacy. In our current moment, both the idea and the movement are aligned against the notion that black experiences are irrelevant or negligible for organizing our collective view of civil society.
Lebron then wrote:
“Try to imagine my distaste when it was brought to my attention that your journal published a philosophical symposium on ‘black lives matter’ with not one philosopher of color represented, without one philosopher of color to convey her or his contextualized sense of a movement that is urgently and justifiably about context. It certainly cannot be said there was no one to ask. I should know. I just published a book on the philosophical foundations of black lives matter.”
Ultimately, Lebron looked into the publication history of the journal where he discovered that “The Journal of Political Philosophy has not published a single article on the philosophy of race: voting, elections, immigration, global markets and animals have gotten their time in the journal’s sun. But as black Americans, and the philosophers who study racial inequality — a political philosophical problem — have directly engaged one of our era’s most sinister moral and political quandaries, the journal has failed to represent race in its pages. Maybe more damning, so far as I can tell, not one black philosopher has seen her or his work appear in the pages of your respected journal, on race or any other topic.”
As for Rogers, the Scott Waugh Chair in the Division of the Social Sciences and associate professor of political science and African-American studies at the University of California, Los Angeles, he wrote in his open letter that “It is profoundly troubling that a symposium named in honor of the movement effectively performs the invisibility and devaluation of black life via the exclusion of scholars of color that the movement would otherwise challenge. This is especially upsetting because there are a number of political theorists and philosophers of color positioned to easily say something meaningful about the movement and its connection to substantive normative issues.”
The editors of the journal have since apologized and vowed to not only discuss how the symposium was planned and how to learn from the controversy that came of it but invite two black scholars to join the journal’s editorial board (although the board does have nonwhite members it does not feature any black people).
Source via Inside Higher Ed.