Windy City Media Group Frontpage News
Celebrating 30 Years of Gay Lesbian Bisexual and Trans News
home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2019-10-16
About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage



E. Patrick Johnson now heading NU's African-American studies
by M. Shelly Conner

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

E. Patrick Johnson, Carlos Montezuma Professor of African-American Studies and Performance Studies, has been named the new chair of the African-American studies department at Northwestern University.

Johnson is no stranger to university administrative posts, having previously served as the chair and director of graduate studies for the Department of Performance Studies. He replaces colleague and African-American Studies scholar Martha Biondi whose work he cites in illustrating the creation of Black studies departments by Black student protests in the 1960s and 1970s.

The history is an appropriate one, as the country currently witnesses universities and communities mired in race-related protests; faculty of color embattled in tenure disputes and continued struggles to integrate predominately white departments; and the ever-present racist and culturally appropriated actions of college co-eds, including blackface, recorded racist chants and slurs. It is a heavy atmosphere for a newly appointed chair to enter, even if the aforementioned incidents are not associated with his particular institution.

As a performance scholar, Johnson's work centers around the lives of Black gay men in the South. ( Note: This journalist first encountered his work in the Black Queer Studies Anthology that he edited with Mae G. Henderson. Also, this writer was inspired by his essay "Quare" Studies, or Almost Everything I Know About Queer Studies I Learned from My Grandmother. ) Johnson's performance work includes Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South—both a collection of narratives and a one-man show based on the collection—and its follow-up, Honeypot: Black Southern Women Who Love Women.

Talking about the impact of this new position on his work to Windy City Times, Johnson said that it is about "African-American studies is an interdisciplinary field, which means I get the pleasure of working with and learning from colleagues trained in various disciplines such as sociology, religion, literature, anthropology, history, political science and theater. Despite these disparate fields and methodologies, however, what we all have in common is a focus on race as a key category of analysis. I don't take that lightly, as many traditional departments don't [bestow the] privilege or even account for race in the same way. Having a safe space to conduct research without having to justify the importance of race as a category of analysis or demonstrate why race matters is something that I don't take for granted. At the same time, because African-American studies is so interdisciplinary that I still can be pushed by my colleagues to think about different ways of analyzing race and, particularly, blackness."

Yet positions of more authority don't necessarily mean that these analyses can more easily make their way into institutional policies and procedures. Johnson said, "A chair cannot necessarily implement procedures or policies that address social issues due to academic freedom."

"A chair can use the bully pulpit of the office, however, to reach out to communities beyond the university to stand in solidarity against racism and other social forms of discrimination," Johnson added. He said he fully intends to use the office and continued legacy of Black studies scholarship and activism coupled with Northwestern's resources "to speak out against institutionalized racism, sexism, homophobia, classism and other forms of oppression."

Johnson added that he hopes to facilitate continued discussion among faculty as well as to provide opportunities for students most affected by social and racial injustice to control their own narratives. "Since they are the ones who are most affected by these concerns, I think that it's important to empower them to create their own events that address those concerns," he said.

As for Johnson's legacy for the department, he said, "I never think about such leadership positions as creating a legacy. I believe my job as chair is to build on the success of the past to carry the department into the future. That is something that is done with the good will of colleagues and with resources from the administration.

"The department was in good shape when I became chair and, hopefully, it will be in even better shape when I step down in three years. If anything, I want to create an even safer space for faculty, staff and students to share their ideas and experiences about race without fear of retaliation, threat or condescension. And, I want the department to be a space of laughter—lots and lots of laughter!"

facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Windy City Media Group does not approve or necessarily agree with the views posted below.
Please do not post letters to the editor here. Please also be civil in your dialogue.
If you need to be mean, just know that the longer you stay on this page, the more you help us.


Gay News

MOMBIAN LGBTQ-inclusive books, and hope, in rural schools 2019-10-16 - LGBTQ students in rural schools are more likely to face bias and discrimination than those in urban and suburban ones, but their schools ...

Gay News

Suburban high school has gay homecoming king 2019-10-02 - Anthony Arnori—an openly gay senior and hockey player at East Leyden High School in Franklin Park, Illinois—was voted homecoming king, The Advocate reported. ...

Gay News

Law school honored for TGNC efforts 2019-09-26 - Chicago-Kent College of Law recently received the 2019 Henry J. Ramsey, Jr. Diversity Award from the Law Student Division of the American Bar ...

Gay News

District 211 to deliberate on crafting transgender locker room policy 2019-09-20 - Officials from Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 said Sept. 19 that they'll need more time to determine logistics of a policy that would ...

Gay News

NCAA trans swimmer at Oakton on Sept. 24 2019-09-20 - Schuyler Bailar, the first transgender National College Athletic Association ( NCAA ) Division I men's athlete, will speak in Oakton Community College's Student ...

Gay News

Township High District 211 board of education to discuss trans students, restrooms 2019-09-19 - PALATINE, Ill. —September 19, 2019— Tonight at their September board meeting, Township High School District 211 board of education will discuss ending their ...

Gay News

Trans athlete to headline ISU dinner Sept. 20 2019-09-03 - Swimmer Schuyler Bailar will be the speaker for Illinois State University's ( ISU's ) Housing Services LGBTQA Cultural Dinner at 5 p.m. on ...

Gay News

Applications out for Illinois High School Musical Theater Awards 2019-08-29 - Broadway In Chicago is inviting high schools throughout the state to participate in the Ninth Annual Illinois High School Musical Theatre Awards. Beginning ...

Gay News

IL Safe Schools Alliance, Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago merge 2019-08-15 - Chicago, IL - After almost a year of integrating operations, the Boards of Directors for Public Health Institute of Metropolitan Chicago ( PHIMC ...

Gay News

Gov. Pritzer signs pro-LGBTQ measures 2019-08-10 - On Aug. 9, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a number of measures—including at least three that are seen as specifically benefiting LGBTQ individuals. ...


Copyright © 2019 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.







About WCMG Publications News Index  Entertainment Features Bars & Clubs Calendar Videos Advertisers OUT! Guide    Marriage

About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Subscriptions      Distribution      Windy City Queercast     
Queercast Archives      Advertising  Rates      Deadlines      Advanced Search     
Press  Releases      Event Photos      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Post an Event      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Blogs      Spotlight  Video     
Classifieds      Real Estate      Place a  Classified     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.