A Response to the Washington Post article, “It’s 2015. Where are all the Black college fy aculty?”

Here is the article if you haven’t read it.

Black faculty are here. We’re not mythical unicorns.  Some are the walking wounded. Some are the successful few who have navigated the university politics to make it to full. Some black faces appear in the slick university brochures. Others toil behind the scenes, not quite sure if they are noticed and hoping that they aren’t.

But we are here. You might not see us for the following reasons:

We’re probably in diversity meetings called by the dean or provost that will lead to nothing but lost time and increased aggravation.

We’re probably frustrated and marginalized. We’re probably not on tenure track.

We might be in a hiring committee meeting, only to see certain candidates declared as “not a good fit for the department.” We might be asked to recruit people of color to apply for these faculty lines to “get our diversity numbers up.”

We could be seeking out other professors of color on campus, just to see a friendly face or another brown or black face on campus. And many of us fail at that task.

We’re probably working with the students of color who were left behind in the graduate program because they considered deficient by faculty. We’re sponsoring and mentoring those who were left to wither on the vine.

We might be mentoring an endless stream of students who seek you out because you are a safe haven. We keep tissue, petty cash, candy, and a good word tucked away at all times just in case one of those students need it.

We may be grinding out the service work that counts for nothing but takes up so much time. We didn’t volunteer for this committee, but somehow we’re on it. We might be told by a department chair that since we’re good at that administrative stuff that we are a good fit for time-intensive, labor-filled service that will amount to one line of the CV and no goodwill from those making merit, tenure, and promotion decisions.

We probably aren’t focused on research as much as we like because of that other stuff. If we are research focused and we happen to do work on our community, we’re probably being told that it isn’t enough for tenure.

We’re likely dealing with classroom issues that have to deal with being black, being black and female, or being black and queer or disabled in the classroom.

We might be dealing with the structural racism, sexism, and other -isms that prop up the academy and dealing with the physical and mental toll that wears your body down.

We’re here, but we are occupied.