“We need diversity in philosophy because you probably don’t know who Alain Leroy Locke is.” – Terron Davis

MAP Chapter Profile: Brooklyn College at the City University of New York

by Jesi Taylor

Our first event of the 2015/2016 academic year was a lecture by professor Tom Digby of Springfield College. He discussed his book Love and War: How Militarism Shapes Sexuality and Romance and engaged nearly two hundred students in a lively Q&A on topics ranging from militaristic culture and misogyny to masculinity and heterosexual antagonism. The event was co-sponsored by the Brooklyn College philosophy department thanks to the help of department chair Andrew Arlig and the Jay Newman Chair in Philosophy of Culture, Serene Khader. Following that event, we began a bi-weekly reading series during which we discussed papers by diverse philosophers we read prior to the event. Thus far we’ve read and discussed Tommie Shelby’s “Ideology, Racism, and Critical Social Theory,” Donovan Miyasaki’s “Freud or Nietzsche: The Drives, Pleasure, and Social Happiness,” and Elizabeth Anscombe’s “Causality and Determination.” Each meeting begins with a brief presentation on the paper by a current MAP member followed by informal but engaged dialogue. We’ve created short videos of the sessions called “Philosophy Bytes” that showcase members’ ideas related to the papers as conversation progresses.

“The world would be a lackluster place if everyone was the same and just as it is important to have diversity in the world, we need diversity in philosophy to represent all the great thinkers and various intellects of the world. Only though diversity can we truly have meaningful discourse with manifold thoughts and ideas.” – Christina Weinbaum.Our most recent focus has been our Being Qua Brooklyn campaign, from which you can see a few photos here. Resident photographer and treasurer of MAP, Christina Weinbaum, photographs students and faculty around campus and asks them why they believe diversity and inclusivity are important for academic philosophy. The campaign is continuing to grow, and our photos are being shared on various social media platforms with the hashtag #BeingQuaBrooklyn. Our most popularly shared photo features Samir Chopra of Brooklyn College and CUNY Graduate Center.

“We simply aren’t doing justice to the human condition or our place in the world by being so narrow in our ambit. Our claims to universality and atemporality ring quite hollow when the emanate from such a parochial standing. Bringing in women and non-white philosophers gives us a chance to change this. Different histories will be introduced and perhaps our philosophical bookshelves will be stocked differently. I can’t see a downside to this.” -Samir ChopraThree members of the Brooklyn College MAP council have been travelling the east coast to attend different conferences whose themes include diversity and non-Western philosophy: rising juniors Jesi Taylor [Treijs] and Jennifer Innes and rising sophomore Christina Weinbaum. Our main goal has been to network with other MAP programs and students in order to learn how we can succeed on our own campus.

While we’ve already had so many exciting events, we are still a new club, so our biggest challenge is attracting new members. We all contribute, out of pocket, to making sure there are snacks and other refreshments at meetings, since we always meet during “common hours” when students usually eat lunch. Our chapter president, Jesi Taylor, manages the official Facebook page and updates it daily with posts about upcoming deadlines for summer programs and calls for submissions as well as a Graduate Program Spotlight and Philosopher Spotlight where she showcases programs and philosophers around the world with photos, blurbs, articles, and more. Our internet presence continues to grow, and we’ve reached many students via Facebook and Instagram!

“We need diversity in philosophy because there are different ways of seeing & existing and philosophizing about the world… other than through the eyes of white men. There are different ways of understanding ourselves and others than through the logics of colonialism, white supremacy, patriarchy, and anthropocentrism. Diversity in philosophy is important because a different world than the one we’ve been given is possible. – Francesco Yugiro AsanoIn the future, we plan to host fundraising events on campus to both continue to spread the word about MAP and raise money to fund visits to other campuses/conferences and host on-campus events and talks with different philosophers. We also plan to organize workshops and other exciting events sure to attract budding and professional philosophers. We are supported by the philosophy faculty at our school in every way they can, and it means a great deal to us that they help us to promote our events in their classes and lectures. The MAP council members practically live in the Philosophy lounge on campus, and it’s wonderful to have such an incredible group of professional philosophers on campus who genuinely care about our MAP chapter and the missions of MAP and who engage with us inside and outside of the classroom about all things philosophy!

Jesi Taylor is an undergraduate philosophy major and poet currently attending Brooklyn College. Her areas of interest are pyrrhonian skepticism, philosophy of language, metaethics, and anything related to Aristotle or Heidegger. She is particularly interested in how language and culture affect belief-formation processes. She is the president of the Brooklyn College chapter of Minorities and Philosophy and looks forward to applying to graduate programs in Philosophy. 

“I’d never advocate for the silencing of the myriad important figures of the canon. I just belief that it’s important to amplify the voices that have been historically silenced. We can fight the systemic exclusion of minority philosophers by refusing to remain silent and by advocating for the diversification of curriculum. It’s time to admit how chocked academia is by the ‘Eurocentric, masculinist knowledge validation process’ and evolve.” – Jesi V. Taylor

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Posts in this series: Introduction / Princeton / UCSB / Brooklyn

If you have something to say about diversity and inclusiveness in the philosophy profession, we’d love to hear about it. Pitch a post to us here.

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