Academic Noise and Naomi Schaefer Riley!

I’m so uneducated it is a sin, but as I’ve said a lot of times before, despite my lowly status when it comes to a degree, I can and do read a lot!

This time, somehow I started reading a post over at the Chronicle of Higher Education.  Naturally it isn’t the sort of place I hang out at regularly, but I heard some buzz and I decided to head on over and check it out.

It was a lot to check out!

In very simple terms there was this blogger for the Chronicle who read another article and then decided to take aim at a Black Studies course.  In 500 words she lambasted some new thinkers because she felt that their dissertations were simply rehashed defenses of well, of Blacks against the world, or at least against the Whites in the US.

Personally I was horrified by her flippant attitude.  She didn’t read the dissertations she simply read blurbs about the authors of the works.  And she addressed them each with what sounded like contempt.  For example she made fun of one of the women for writing about Black women and midwifery.  And one commenter supporting her agreed that we were all supposed to be one when it comes to birthing experiences.  White, Black, Asian, we all give birth the same way…Right?

Well, of course that isn’t right!  And that is the kind of foolish noise that infects arguments when you allow people who don’t know what they are talking about to start arguing about issues they don’t and can’t comprehend!

To say that “Black Studies” courses aren’t courses but causes is just more inflammatory.  It seems outrageous that we’d decide because of a snarky blog post that an entire field of study is worthless.

The editors at the Chronicle at first wanted the post to start a conversation and Schaefer Riley’s defenders are mocking the Chronicle for pulling her work by saying that the liberal Academics can’t take the heat and aren’t willing to have discussions if their ideas are threatened- but that isn’t the case.   What questions did Naomi’s post posit?  She didn’t ask any questions.   She made a case without any serious effort.  There wasn’t anything to debate but her opinion and in that case, it’s  moot.

I think we have room for debate in our society about the needs of individuals and of groups.  I think Black Studies and Women Studies, or Gender Studies are legitimate areas of study and I think that anyone that thinks otherwise should first explore them before they vote for doing away with them.  More importantly,  I think there should be discussion about issues that divide us, but I hope we’ll all remember that in order to have a quality discussion  the issues we address need to be be about substance and they should not be crafted by the flimsy nature of people’s opinions.

This blog post is of course my own opinion, but what I’m asking for in this post is an opportunity to make decisions in life based on things like evidence and supporting facts and I’d like to move away from deciding things based on numbers and “noise”.  It is my opinion that information far outweighs “noise” at least when it comes to human understanding.



I wish I had an  education!  It isn’t elitist to want to learn!  Sheesh.



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