About 20 years ago a JBHE survey (The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education) counted only 11 Black economists teaching at the nation’s 25 highest-ranked Universities. Well, today that number has more than tripled you would hope is the case, but it is actually not, and today there are now 13 Black economists teaching at the nation’s 25 highest-ranked Universities. Yes, a big whopping 13, is the number they expect for us to accept as acceptable. Well, indeed, that embarrassing low number is horrid, and should and must be modified immediately. Unfair huh, how many Black people grew up and were raised around a diversified group of Black professionals? Many of you are from major cities where you saw nothing but Black professionals, but this doesn’t seem right to you does it? How can Black children or individuals be from major cities where they saw nothing but Black professionals, but don’t see this reality displayed in the world beyond our scope?
Since 1994 nothing has changed, so who’s to blame? The system, the people, who? What’s wrong with this picture, and what’s wrong with Black economists where Universities don’t want to hire them? Maybe it’s not a matter of Universities not wanting to hire Black economists, but then what is the issue then?
In a recent interview, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked why the top echelon of the State Department was almost entirely White. She said without hesitation, “That’s an artifact of foreign policy,” Rice said. “It’s not been a very diverse profession.” So, maybe the same can be said about academia, especially economics. Why not just include about every field then, because in fact this isn’t an isolated issue. So okay, there is an outpouring number of Black Doctors and Lawyers, and these were the top professions that Blacks went into but we aren’t discussing Medicine and Law. We are focusing on why another important field such as economics has such a low number of Black economists working at the nation’s leading Universities.
Some may or can argue that there are actually more Black economists working at the leading Universities. You would be correct to say there are more Black economists teaching at the nation’s top-rated Universities, so that you can scream at the top of your lungs to say you’re correct. So here it is, a dynamic 15 total of Black economists are teaching at the nation’s first-rate Universities. Wow, a whopping 15! Hold the presses! Start the party! Let’s get real; in order to come to that specific number of 15, the JBHE survey had to include more Universities in order to arrive at that number. This means the survey was expanded to include 30 of the nation’s top Universities instead of 25 Universities- and only 25 Universities was included in the original survey. So, let’s put this into perspective, the great number of 2 more Black economists was found after JBHE expanded its survey to add 5 more Universities.
To really put this issue into perspective, the 15 Black economists comprise only 1.6 percent of the whole total faculty in the economics departments of the 30 highest-ranked Universities. Again, from where does the issue start? But furthermore how does the issue get corrected, and what are we prepared to do about the solution(s)?