In the news story “Kept down by menial tasks? Black scholars and the ‘neoplantation’” (16 March), Lamar Johnson, an assistant professor in Michigan State University’s department of English, argues that “scholars of colour” are “always asked to do more things than our white colleagues” and that menial tasks such as “multiple service committees within a department” leave them less time for their research than their white colleagues.
Really? If academics of a given ethnicity/gender were not being appointed to service committees, no doubt the author would be at the front of the line shouting “racism” or “sexism” (provided his ethnicity or gender was the one being under-represented). Now that universities are doing the right thing by making diverse appointments to committees, he complains (like every academic who gets tapped to sit on a few committees) that it eats into research time.
Sure it does. It’s the same for all of us: black, white or candy-striped; male, female or “other” of your choice. We all have to juggle teaching, admin and research to get everything done and get home at night.
If you want to whine, pick a sensible reason: perhaps your university is short on administrators and expects too much from academics, maybe there are just too many service committees and they could be organised more efficiently. Look for solutions, don’t merely moan about something you cannot change – find something that you can change.
Fix problems, not blame.