IUPUI diversity researcher to co-edit special journal issue focusing on Black Lives Matter

Release Date: 
Aug 31 2016

INDIANAPOLIS -- An Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis diversity researcher will co-edit a special edition of a journal that will examine through multiple disciplines the Black Lives Matter movement. Leslie Ashburn-Nardo

Among the project's goals, said Leslie Ashburn-Nardo, an associate professor of psychology in the School of Science, is to collect a volume of interdisciplinary manuscripts that seeks to:

  • Understand the reasons for the Black Lives Matter movement.
  • Deconstruct the resistance to it.
  • Identify strategies for effecting positive change that demonstrates the valuing of black lives.

Ashburn-Nardo will edit the special issue of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion: An International Journal with Kecia Thomas, a psychology professor and founding director of the Center for Research and Engagement in Diversity at the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Georgia.

"People are sharply divided in their opinions of the Black Lives Matter movement," Ashburn-Nardo said. "We think that is because it is something that is poorly understood.

"When they hear 'black lives matter,' a lot of people think that means at the exclusion of other lives. There seems to be a misunderstanding that by saying 'black lives matter' it implies that maybe white lives don't matter -- or blue lives, given that a lot of attention regarding the movement has centered around police interactions with African Americans, " she said.

"I don't think anyone in that movement feels that other lives don't matter, but that seems to be how a lot of folks are interpreting it and have a lot of strong emotional reaction to it," she said. "We are hoping this special issue can shed some light on that."

In a call for papers for the special journal edition, Ashburn-Nardo and Thomas write: "The Black Lives Matter movement came out of the Black community's chronic experience with overt and covert racism and its collective frustration with being silenced when confronting the injustice of discriminatory treatment.

"The deaths of numerous Black men and women at the hands of police -- broadcast through smartphones and shared on social media -- gave voice to a modern Black experience largely unknown to and often poorly understood by their White neighbors. Although much of the attention to BLM has been directed toward Black encounters with the police and the U.S. justice system, the chronic devaluing and discounting of Black lives occurs across contexts studied by social and organizational scientists."

Among potential manuscript topics:

  • All Lives Matter: An attempt at inclusion or decentering black voice and reinforcing white privilege?
  • How employers respond to Black Lives Matter in the workplace: Punishment or pride?
  • Understanding racial health disparities through the Black Lives Matter lens.
  • Black Lives Matter in the classroom: Supporting grieving students when you don't have all the answers.
  • The selection and training of public safety officers: What Black Lives Matter can teach us.
  • Black and Blue: Work and non-work experiences of black police officers in the Black Lives Matter era.
  • The roles of Black Lives Matter in identifying and resolving racial trauma.

Manuscripts will be accepted for the special issue between Nov. 1 and Dec. 16.

Ashburn-Nardo said the editor of the journal initially contacted Thomas about editing a special edition of the journal. Thomas and Ashburn-Nardo had been discussing doing something like that after presenting together on a panel called "Teaching Diversity during Times of Turbulence" last April at the annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology.

This is the opportunity that presented itself, Ashburn-Nardo said. "We recognized that Black Lives Matter has the potential to cut across more than academics and teaching, more than just police and the criminal justice system," she said. "It cuts across a lot of domains."