The Hidden Racism Within Geoscience Departments: An Interview Experience of a Black Academician

 I have always praised and appreciated the diversity in knowledge that breeds through the geosciences. As a village scholar, this diversity in knowledge is one that has always kept in academia – the joy of having different knowledge perspectives. Can same be said about geoscience faculties? NO. There remain ˂1 of black geoscience tenure track professors throughout the US and Canada as compared to the over 14% of geoscience students who identify as black. So, when I saw advertisements from about four geoscience departments encouraging applications from consistently minoritorized people to apply for tenure track positions in their departments, I was very much enthused and applied. However, this turned out to be a scam that most departments use to cover their white linings. I took part in the final round of on-campus interviews (two via zoom and one face-to-face) for three of the positions. In this story, I share some of the hidden racist experiences I discovered.

First, in all my three on-campus interviews, there was no person of color on any of the search committee panel, faculty or students' population that I met although all schools claim to have at least some population of black students and faculty in their departments and colleges. So, the question is, why was no black student or faculty included in the search committee, faculty or students I met if not for racism. It is clearly not about the lack of people, but a deliberate attempt to favor some group of people than others. You claim to want to hire minoritorized people, but there is no one who understands their perspective on your search committee. 
Another white face-saving strategy these departments use "is the strategy of we do not have colored faculty because they do not qualify or apply for the job". This was mentioned in all the departments I interviewed, but they still had a very qualified black man and rejected him. What does this say about you? Two of these schools hired people that their CV, experiences and training nowhere compares to mine and this is no boasting, but I was denied probably because I did not conform to the white peoples' "all white faculty" agenda. I actually had people from all the schools telling me that per performance and talks, they are really surprised I did not get the vote for the job and they all attribute it to my skin which in itself is a mental pain. Oh yea, and in one school it actually became a serious tension between dean and department head.

Fast forward to my current department I interviewed at and actually got the job, THEY HAD 2 PEOPLE OF COLOR on the search committee. What does this tell you about Racism if there is NONE.


The writer holds a Ph.D. in Geoscience Education and a Post-Doctoral Fellow.