Dr. Billy Hawkins, University of Georgia
A typical error Black academics make is to believe that the academy is open and accepting of new ideas and insights. They initially welcome us with open arms, but we soon find out that the shelf life of this welcome is brief and that their minds were never really open and accepting. I have come to think of it in terms of the structural deficiencies and inability of these institutions to sincerely assimilate fresh new perspectives and energies into their paradigms. Therefore, in the context of the phrase “new wine in old wineskins” the evolutionary Messiah, Jesus Christ, informs of the perils of progressive thinking within an archaic system.
Dr. Boyce Watkins lack of tenure at the University of Syracuse speaks to this issue and to the broader issue of how Predominantly White Institutions are conservative and myopic in their agendas, curricula, and missions than they are progressive and bastions of forward-thinkers. The tenure process has always worked as a mechanism to temper and corral the radical embers that spark change from the status quo and challenge previous preconceive notions. Inherent in the tenure and promotion process are prescriptions for appropriate behavior and academic inquiry. Speaking truth to power is not one of the prescriptions rewarded in this process, especially if you are a Black professor.