Professors Abosede George, Alexandra Watson, and Tamara J. Walker at the February 22 event

On February 22, Barnard hosted the second annual Cite Black Barnard Faculty Salon, which brought colleagues together to talk about their scholarship, teaching, and research interests.

Sitting in discussion together were two esteemed associate professors — Abosede George (history and Africana studies) and Tamara J. Walker (Africana studies). Each speaker shared their experiences of being Black women in academia as well as the role that mentorship played in their journeys.

Walker, who began the evening by reading an excerpt from her 2023 historical nonfiction and travel memoir, Beyond the Shores: A History of African Americans Abroad, said, “[We are here] creating connections in the academic environment. There is something beautiful about a connection created from cold emailing.”

Cite Black Faculty Salon
The Cite Black Barnard Faculty Salon on February 22

Alexandra Watson, lecturer of First-Year Writing and associate director of the Writing Program, moderated the chat. 

“Our faculty salon is designed to be a space where colleagues can come together and talk about their work and interests in a setting less formal than the traditional academic talk,” said Watson. “It’s an opportunity for them to connect with other faculty, students, and staff who share their interests — to be recognized and appreciated for the work they do, within and outside of the Barnard community.”

 Alex Watson headshot
Professor Alexandra Watson

The discussion ranged from the lives and motivations of African American expatriates to the global apartheid system and the social hierarchies found in academia.

The event — co-sponsored by the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, the Department of Africana Studies, the Center for Engaged Pedagogy (CEP), and the Barnard Center for Research on Women (BCRW) — was organized to emphasize the importance of crediting and incorporating the voices of Black women scholars, activists, and thinkers in fields where they have typically been overlooked.

“The Cite Black Barnard faculty salon gives the Barnard community time and space to learn from our brilliant Black faculty and contribute to the larger and ever-urgent project of citational justice,” said Melissa Wright, the executive director of the CEP. “It is a genuine gift to have this time together to celebrate the depth, vitality, and power of our colleagues’ thinking and scholarship and to consider how one might cite these works and ideas in one’s own teaching and research.” 

George, who was selected as the 2022-2023 Fellow in Residence at the Netherlands Institute of Advanced Studies in Amsterdam, read from her current book project — detailing the experience of being denied a visa to visit the United Kingdom due to not having American citizenship at the time. 

The forthcoming book will “consider the role of the global apartheid system and its symptoms [affecting] the achievements of Black women and how they regain a sense of life in progression,” said George.

Cite Black Faculty Salon-Tamara Walker
Professor Tamara J. Walker
Abosede George Black Faculty Salon
Professor Abosede George

“Bringing more Black people into academia is a challenge of meaning,” said George. “It’s a challenge because of the labor of the places you want to serve, and [the places you] are in labor to. If you want it done right, you have to do it. Our hands are so full, and there are so [few] hands — you can’t do it all on your own.”

Travel comes as something of a mix between passion and pedagogy for Walker, whose biweekly podcast — Why We Wander — focuses on the transformative effect of international experiences. She co-founded the nonprofit The Wandering Scholar to help prepare high school students for Fulbright scholarships in the future. She was inspired to start the podcast and write her travel memoir about her own time as a Fulbright scholar, from when she was the only Black person in the program while in Peru.

Cite Black Faculty Salon-audience
Students at the event

“[Writing] Beyond the Shores haunted me,” said Walker. “I was constantly asked, ‘Why are you writing this piece on slavery and gender in Latin America?’ when my white counterparts were not facing the same things.” 

During final remarks, Walker urged audience members to search for positive affirmations on their own research journeys. “It is sometimes hard to come by an affirmation in this profession and easy to internalize [racist] comments,” said Walker. “Positivity can be as contagious as negativity. Find positive affirmations — and cling to those.”