Journal Apologizes After Excluding Black Writers From Black Lives Matter Issue

The editors called it a “grave oversight.”

A prestigious academic journal has come under fire after publishing an issue dedicated to Black Lives Matter with no black writers.

The Journal of Political Philosophy allotted more than 60 pages of its June issue to the movement, authored by three white professors. Two academics in African-American studies wrote open letters addressing the lack of black voices and criticizing the journal for routinely ignoring issues related to race.

University of California, Los Angeles professor Melvin Lee Rogers sent the editors of the journal an email, which he later posted on Facebook, expressing his disappointment with the series of articles.

“It is profoundly troubling that a symposium named in honor of the movement effectively performs the invisibility and devaluation of black life via the exclusion of scholars of color that the movement would otherwise challenge,” Rogers wrote on Wednesday. “This is especially upsetting because there are a number of political theorists and philosophers of color positioned to easily say something meaningful about the movement and its connection to substantive normative issues.”

He then listed several black philosophers who would have been more suitable candidates to contribute to the journal.

Yale professor Christopher Lebron also wrote a letter on Wednesday noting the irony of all white writers addressing Black Lives Matter, a movement aimed at ending the erasure of black lives. He also criticized the journal for completely ignoring issues dealing with race for the past few years.

“One might (or might not) be surprised to learn that at four issues a year, making a total of nearly twenty issues ... the Journal of Political Philosophy has not published a single article on the philosophy of race: voting, elections, immigration, global markets, and animals have gotten their time in the journal’s sun,” he wrote.

“But as black Americans, and the philosophers who study racial inequality ― a political philosophical problem ― have directly engaged one of our era’s most sinister moral and political quandaries, the journal has failed to represent race in its pages,” he continued. “Maybe more damning, so far as I can tell, not one black philosopher has seen her or his work appear in the pages of your respected journal, on race or any other topic.”

As the letters circulated, Twitter users chimed in.

The journal issued a letter of apology on Thursday, calling the omission of black writers an “oversight.”

“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.”

The editors said that they’ve scheduled a meeting to review their “inadequate” procedures and said that they would extend invitations to add “at least two” black people to their board. They also said that they would work harder to include work from philosophers and political theorists of color.

Before You Go

"Black Lives Matter" March