Earlier this year the Society for Classical Studies made headlines in higher education news for the blatant racism that was on display at its annual meeting. Among the documented incidents was a scholar of color being told that he “may have gotten” his very prestigious position because he is black. The incident was disturbing and upsetting to say the least, but when I learned of it a few hours later, my first reaction was, “That is not the first time he has heard that.” I could make that claim with near certainty, not because I know the scholar who was targeted (I don’t, though I would like to), but because this is an all too familiar experience for an academic of color. I would venture to say that any academic of color has heard some version of this — indeed, this is a defining experience for us, particularly those few of us who work in as white a field as Classics. What it means to be a person of color in academia is to have our credentials questioned or undermined in some way at some point. It happens in our interactions with our peers and in our course evaluations. And sometimes — as was the case at the SCS meeting — in public spaces. The only unusual thing about the offensive comment in question was that it occurred in a room full of witnesses with ready access to Twitter.
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