Saturday, August 8, 2009

Recruiting Talent, Building Black Studies

Recruit the talent and Black Studies will grow.

Maybe that was the mantra buried somewhere in my subconscious, only just now revealing itself in a sentence, that got us to this point.

Over the last couple of years, I've tried to be quite persistent in recruiting folks that I viewed as really talented to assist in the design and implementation of black studies projects.

If you ever meet any of our longtime contributors like Shelley and Henderson, Marci and Tristan, Chris and Kirk, Rozina and Pongo, and they say they came to Black Studies on their own free will, don't believe it. I, then we, chased, hounded, bugged, "discovered," texted, emailed, and friended (on facebook) them and others until they were regular contributors.

In short, we recruited them. When they agreed or grew tired of avoiding us, they helped out.

I don't even want to wonder what lowly levels our projects would be at now if I had waited on folks to arrive at black studies. Our lead contributors didn't really need black studies, so why would they have come? But we--black studies--did need talented folks with far out ideas and contributing energy, so it made sense to search these folks out and convince them to become a part of our crew.

What if SIUE and then individual academic disciplines at the university felt it needed, talented black students and talented multiracial groups of students the way Black Studies does? I don't mean needed them to achieve "diversity" but needed them to produce really groundbreaking and far-reaching projects.

As we begin designing or better yet tweaking our projects for the fall, we'll have to also put ourselves in recruitment mode. Our experiences have confirmed that recruiting talented folks (and in this case folks with interests in race matters) facilitates the growth of black studies.

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