The Black Lives Matter movement protesting before an election debate at Hofstra University in New York in 2016. Photo: Wikimedia / Brian Allen, Voice of America

#blackintheivory: scholars share their experiences of racism


Various researchers reveal that racism is a problem in the academic world too. They are sharing their stories using the hashtag #blackintheivory.

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"Is that really you?” A security guard refused him entry to the library, tweets Mario L. Small, sociologist at Harvard University. He showed the guard his badge, including his photo, but that was not enough.

The head of catering was angry that she was late for serving the coffee, recalls Ulla McKnight, science and technology sociologist from Sussex University. Except she wasn’t at the conference to serve coffee. She came to present her paper.

Molecular scientist and rapper Raven Baxter, better known as Raven the Science Mavenwas prevented from accessing the pigeon-holes on her first day at work in a chemistry department. Someone blocked her path and threatened to call the police, convinced that she was a student trying to steal the letters.

Ivory towers
Scholars from Anglo-Saxon countries are sharing these kinds of stories on Twitter. ‘Black in the ivory’ means ‘black in the ivory towers’, a common reference to universities. Ivory is white.

It could be even worse than these stories indicate, suggests behavioural psychologist Neil Lewis, Jr. from Cornell University. These are only the stories people dare to share. Furthermore, we are not hearing from people who have left the academic world behind them.


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