The Academic Freedom Double Standard: “Freedom” for Courtiers, Suppression for Critical Scholars

By Johnny Eric Williams


Academicians are told that tenure and academic freedom protect us whenever we speak out and pursue political or provocative research. But more often than not, this autonomy is not afforded faculty who are of the wrong political persuasion, “race,” or religion. Suppression of academic freedom is especially pronounced for socially defined black faculty who critically examine white supremacy. This essay uses a cultural lens to examine why academic freedom is conditional and how its contingency is used to ensure that most faculty will not use their teaching and scholarship to foment the social seeds necessary to mobilize revolt against systemic oppressions.

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Bravo to Dr. Johnny Williams on such vindicating scholarship. If only more scholars would stop cowering in the shadows pretending to work on race, power, inequality, oppression, and all that we love to say we specialize in, but fail at, in Sociology, we might not be in this mess. If only more of us were courageous enough to WRITE TRUTH TO POWER, PUBLISH TRUTH TO POWER, AND TEACH TRUTH TO POWER instead of just watching brave protesters SPEAK truth to power alone! Thanks Johnny. Keep holding it down! Peace and Justice...

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