Commentary: Blogger's Review of Black Studies Is Misguided

education and Black Studies

Commentary: Blogger's Review of Black Studies Is Misguided

Naomi Schaefer Riley's essay shows she isn't that well-versed in Black Studies.

Published May 21, 2012

Since her blog on the Chronicle of Higher Education early this month Naomi Schaefer Riley has become the Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest with her response to an article on Black Studies.  


Riley’s piece “The Most Persuasive Case for Eliminating Black Studies? Just Read the Dissertations” cited several dissertation topics, including “‘So I Could Be Easeful’: Black Women’s Authoritative Knowledge on Childbirth” and “Race for Profit: Black Housing and the Urban Crisis of the 1970s.”


What all this amounted to in her estimation was “left-wing victimization claptrap” and reasons enough to suspend the entire field of study.


And for someone to make such a stern pronouncement about the elimination of a discipline, you would think she was armed with a trove of evidence, but, alas, we have to consider the source — she’s neither that well-versed in Black Studies and moreover, this was a 500-word essay in the blogosphere.


From a very few dissertation titles she is able to condemn the field all as “left-wing victimization claptrap,” and this designation tips her political hand as obviously she’s riled to learn some of her right-wing heroes are being taken to task, that is Thomas Sowell, John McWhorter and Clarence Thomas in one of the dissertations. Otherwise, how to do you arrive at a left-wing conclusion about midwifery?


In the end, the Chronicle apologized for Riley’s post and pink-slipped Riley. Since her firing, she has published two opinion pieces in the The Wall Street Journal, where she used to work and her husband is a member of the editorial board, including a rebuttal to the Chronicle brouhaha.


As it appears, she landed on her feet. She’s still living the life of Riley. 



Herb Boyd is a journalist, activist and an author of 22 books, including Black Panthers for Beginners and We Shall Overcome: A History of the Civil Rights Movement.



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Written by Herb Boyd


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