|Google Image Result for Historian|
As basically everyone I know but me takes off for the MLA and the AHA, I’m sitting at home cleaning up from last semester and preparing a submission for the 2014 Berkshire Conference of Women Historians.
As I sat down to put together a submission for a panel on digital history, I realized that all the participants were, as far as I knew, white. I recruited via Twitter only (tweeted like a mad person using #wmnhist, #twitterstorians tags) and have never met three of the people who responded, but their twitter avatars are all snaps of white women, like me. Not too long ago, female philosophers raised the issue of all male panels, and started a “gendered conference” campaign. I’m wondering if historians need a similar effort?
One of the lessons I’ve learned from studying the women’s liberation movement is how damaging all white panels are. After one particularly uncomfortable discussion in a group I did not create, I decided that I’d not willingly create anything that included only white people. My twitter feed has all sorts of tweeps, from all around the world, and of various ethnicities. I thought, how is it this possible that my tweeting to over 800 people resulted in responses that made for a panel of all white women?
I returned to Twitter where I searched digital historian and scrolled though page after page of white people’s pictures. How can this be? How is it even possible in 2013?
Well here is how. According to the AHA, as late as 2010 the percentage of doctorates in history to the awkwardly labeled (although statistically accurate term in this case) “minority citizen” is just under 20%.
|AHA Report Who are the New Historians?|
The population of the US according to the 2010 census is comprised, of well that is a harder question to answer than you’d think. The AHA stats clearly include all Latinos (or Hispanics/Laintos in government speak) as part of “minority citizens” while the census does not include this group as a “racial” category. So the 2010 census results, which state that the U.S. is 75% white, include Latinos as an ethnicity who may identify as any race. Got that? Demographers thankfully sort that for us to get the white only (not in combination with any other race), non-hispanic/latino population of roughly 69% of the population.
Still by any measure (an the above leaves out individuals who claim more than one “racial” background) there is a gap and one that we need to fight hard to close. Part of closing that gap will entail, I believe, changing that google image collage. Systemic change includes images of the world that is possible and when the only people walking around with the label affixed to them as “historian” don’t seem to be like people who may aspire to be historians, we have a big problem.
I’m not at the AHA (or the MLA) but I’d LOVE tweeps to tweet if they are in panels that are homogenous as part of an effort to highlight the need to transform history (much like transformdh.org).
Impt point tweeted to me, which I’ve included here with permission. Ivette Rivera-Giusti
@ProfessMoravec I would add the injury some of us experience in academia, I’m out and miss parts of it, but much happier now.
I started a google spreadsheet to crowdsource observations of homogenous panels. Please contribute!