Cultural Incongruence and Black Experience in the Academy
Kwan-Lamar Blount-Hill and Victor St.John
Race and Justice
First Published Online January 2017
Studies bear out that African Americans are drastically underrepresented in criminology and criminal justice doctoral programs and that, once admitted, they have lower-than-average rates of completion. On average, throughout their careers, African Americans are less likely to secure positions in the most prestigious programs; publish in the most highly regarded journals; or receive tenure, promotion, and compensation commensurate with their European American colleagues. One explanation is that the academy espouses ideals that disadvantage those from a Black cultural background. Through auto-ethnographic narratives, this article explores the ways in which criminology and criminal justice have adopted and reinforced a professional culture that may be incongruent with that of most Black academics. Borrowing from the tenets of critical race theory, we examine the ways in which the field imposes criteria for success counter to the cultural orientation of many African Americans. Finally, we argue the need for field-wide self-assessment and proactive measures to increase receptiveness to, and inclusion of, scholars who bring broader methodological and cultural lenses to both the academic discipline and the practical administration of justice.