The Journal of Political Philosophy just published a symposium on Black Lives Matter, which initially sounds like a great idea. However, Chris Lebron writes (in an open letter to the journal):
So, if you might – please do – try to imagine my distaste when it was brought to my attention that your journal published a philosophical symposium on ‘black lives matter’ with not one philosopher of color represented, without one philosopher of color to convey her or his contextualized sense of a movement that is urgently and justifiably about context.
Melvin Rogers has also written to the journal:
I do not typically claim that persons of color have an intellectual monopoly on issues affecting their life chances, but given the meaning and purpose of the movement it seems especially egregious that a person of color was not included.
So I write to find out how it is that these group of papers, only one of which mentions Black Lives Matter, came to be classified under a heading titled Symposium on “Black Lives Matter”? This question is especially important since I have now come to understand that the authors did not know they would be classified as such.
I very much urge you to read the whole of both open letters, linked to above. They lay out with beautiful clarity just why the composition of the symposium is a problem, and correct some widespread misunderstandings of this kind of criticism.
The journal has replied in an open letter. Here’s the start of it:
We, the Editors, sincerely apologise for the oversight in not
including a Black author in a Symposium explicitly entitled ‘Black
Lives Matter’. We accept the point eloquently and forcefully made by
our colleagues that this is an especially grave oversight in light of
the specific focus of Black Lives Matter on the extent to which
African-Americans have been erased and marginalised from public life.
Part of the mission of the JPP is to raise awareness of ongoing
injustices in our societies. We appreciate and encourage having an
engaged and politically active scholarly community willing to hold
everyone working in the profession to account.