Foundation system

SUNY Black Faculty and Staff Collective Receives $50,000 Spencer Foundation Grant to Fund Critical Black Studies Research and Conference

POUGHKEEPSIE, NY – MARCH 30, 2022 – The SUNY Black Faculty and Staff Collective (BFSC), a nonprofit led by two founding DCC faculty members, has been chosen to receive a $50,000 grant from the Spencer Foundation to fund research and a conference dedicated to exploring the concept of Black Critical Studies.

Recently, educational research has focused more on the concepts of anti-blackness, Afro-pessimism, and critical black studies, or “BlackCrit” as it is commonly referred to among scholars. Afro-pessimism is a theoretical framework suggesting that due to institutionalized white supremacy, racial equity can never be achieved as long as the construction of blackness exists. BlackCrit is a nascent and under-theorized theory that marks a current turning point in anti-Blackness research. Most of these works are discussed within disciplinary and subjective frameworks with Eurocentric epistemological origins; there is a lack of interdisciplinary exploration of pro-black fugitives from Afrocentric frameworks. This impairment has specifically harmed and contributed to the prevailing misperceptions of black students.

The conference will contribute to educational research by sparking a commitment to deepen and expand the possibilities of how BlackCrit can serve academia and beyond, by delving into the material, social, theoretical, psychological, historical, and practical implications of anti blackness. It aims to challenge the problematic ways in which stakeholders approach and deal with diverse and nuanced experiences, educational needs, psychic/prophetic imaginations, solid knowledge and future possibilities for countless black scholars and students who are perpetually exposed to anti-darkness.

“This is an extremely positive example of SUNY’s cross-campus collaboration, linking the research efforts of faculty at community colleges, colleges and university centers,” said Willie Morris, co-founder of SUNY BFSC and English instructor at DCC. “It is also an example of faculty commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion efforts through their research and service to academia.

image of Jordan Bell

Morris, along with DCC English faculty member Jordan Bell, will serve as co-principal investigators in this initiative, working with faculty and staff colleagues from SUNY and the University of Minnesota, Rutgers University, Oakland University, Fordham University and Columbia College. . Work begun at this conference of established and emerging BlackCrit scholars will be featured in a special edition published in the Journal of Equity and Excellence in Education.

The BFSC was founded as a “bottom-up” effort by black and brown faculty, staff, and students across the system in response to the death of DCC student Maurice Gordon at the hands of a soldier from the state of New Jersey in 2020. His death came during a national pandemic and an outcry to see justice and fairness for black people in their dealings with many parts of society.

The BFSC promotes educational advocacy, research and scholarship, as well as collaboration and community action. It recognizes blackness as uniquely diverse in its representation and expression, multinational in its experiences and contexts, and expansive in its presence and presentation in social identities. It centers the needs and experiences of black people wherever and how they are. It strives to be a space that repudiates racism, misogynoir, xenophobia, colorism, homophobia, and transphobia, and is dedicated to advancing policies that support black people. It challenges its members through scholarship, teaching, and advocacy to demand fair and equitable space for Black students, staff, and faculty within SUNY, the state, and the nation.

The Spencer Foundation has been a leading funder of educational research since 1971 and is the only national foundation focused exclusively on supporting educational research. He believes that educational research is integral to improving education, making education systems more equitable and increasing opportunities for lifelong learning. This grant is designed to support rigorous, intellectually challenging, and technically sound research relevant to the most pressing issues and exciting opportunities in education.

# # #