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is blackprof.com a dead blog?

Blackprof.com has been a favorite of mine since it started. I always thought a black perspective on law and academia might be a nice counterpoint to Volokh. However, it’s now firmly entrenched in left2right territory, even though it had periods of high activity. Hasn’t been updated since Dec 8 and too much focus on celebrity issues like OJ Simpson. It also had some well known guests and it raised some good issues. Too bad. Now that we have a black POTUS and a black AG, you’d think there’d be high demand for the blog. RIP, blackprof. Previous posts on blackprof.com.

Written by fabiorojas

February 8, 2009 at 3:12 am

Posted in blogs, fabio

sunday afternoon link: blackprof.com

Fabio

Blackprof.com is very interesting blog written from the perspective of African American law and policy professors. Posts are written from an unapologetic liberal point of view and are highly accesible to the general reader. Some recent fun posts:

Check it out!

Written by fabiorojas

December 3, 2006 at 6:19 pm

Posted in fabio, uncategorized

minority profs in the classroom

Fabio

The advice columnist at blackprof.com responded to a fellow law professor who worried that her students penalized her evaluations because she was black. I think Richard Delgado’s advice was pretty much on target. Yes, there is evidence that female and minority profs get systematically lower evaluations. But Delgado also said she should continue to teach in ways that are comparable to other professors and she should try be relaxed and calm. I’d add a few more things:

  • Some people of color worry a lot when teaching majority class rooms and sometimes forget that students are individuals with their own issues and problems. Trying to relate to students can help get through the barrier that exists in some classrooms.
  • Don’t try to reform or convert students to your point of view. View the class as a transmission of knowledge. Most people react pretty well to that, even if they disagree with you.
  • If you teach a lot about race, you might get dinged more. Personally, I’ve had remarkably few problems because race and ethnicity issues, when appropriate, are integrated into broader course themes. I’ve also seen profs who teach race specific topics and do well because they try to make the class enjoyable, not a sparring match.
  • There is a lot that professors can control to address evaluations. Students at my own university greatly enjoy the class if you make it highly structured. My evaluations improved enormously when I switched to power point and I started giving out review sheets to help students identify what they needed to know for exams.
  • Prep time is not usually a good predictor of evaluations. In my own case, my seminar class, which requires little prep, gets very high marks, while my prep intensive lecture class gets only somewhat above average marks. It’s all about what kinds of students select into your class and what you can do to make the class itself stress free. Most students could care less about time spent prepping.

Overall, I view this issue as something that can be addressed. Minority profs may have to deal with some skepticism, but I think you can do a lot to boost evaluations and become known as a good instructor.

Written by fabiorojas

November 13, 2007 at 1:13 am

Posted in academia, education, fabio

thursday morning links

Fabio

1. Loyal reader Belle Lettre on taking organizational theory courses in different academic departments.

2. Charlton Copeland at blackprof.com asks whether black alumni from majority white schools should give their money to historically black colleges. Comments worth reading. Best answer: yes, you should give to white majority schools because you can help wherever black students may be.

3. Matthew Ygelsias discusses Gen. Patraeus’ Princeton poli sci dissertation on the Vietnam War’s effect on future military decisions. The (not so stunning) conclusion:

History in general, and the American experience in Vietnam in particular, have much to teach us, but both must be used with discretion and neither should be pushed too far. The Vietnam analogy, for all its value as the most recent large-scale use of American force abroad, has limits. Most importantly, the applicability of the lessons drawn from Vietnam, just like the applicability of lessons taken from any other past event, always will depend on the circumstances of the particular situation at hand.”

If nothing else, it’s worthy thick description. The interviews show how traumatized US leaders were by the Vietnam war and how that affected later choices. Another case study of letting the worst outcome carry too much weight in policy judgments.

Written by fabiorojas

September 6, 2007 at 12:53 am

obama doesn’t need the black vote

Fabio

Over at blackprof.com, Terry Smith links to an article by Earl Hutchinson that pokes a hole in the Obama bubble. According to Hutchinson, black voters may dump Obama for a more electable candidate. This argument, which has some plausibility, really misses the point: Obama doesn’t need the black vote. To put it bluntly, Obama’s chances for president do not hinge at all on increasing the black vote beyond what democratic candidates normally get, which hovers around 90%. 

Why? The early Democratic primaries are in states that have small black populations – Iowa, Nevada and New Hampshire. The first primary state with any sizable black population is South Carolina – which comes fourth in the current calendar, a week after New Hampshire. To see my argument, let’s consider the outcomes of the early democratic primaries (IA,NH, NV):

  • Obama landslide – This situation, done without the black vote because they simply don’t exist in large numbers in these states, creates a Kerry style chain reaction. Early wins create a band wagon effect where all Democrats jump on board the “electable candidate.” See Kerry 2004, Gore 2000, Carter 1976.
  • A mixed result – Obama does well in one early primary and not in the others.  Or so-so in all three. In this case, I think that the Hillary machine will effectively finish off Obama with a crushing defeat in South Carolina, which will come primarily from white democrats. Even if Obama dominates the South Carolina black votes, it wouldn’t be enough to off set the monolithic white vote behind Hillary (or Edwards in the upset). South Carolina also has a nack for putting the breaks on non-establishment candidates in the GOP primaries as well. See Buchanan 1992 or McCain 2004.
  • Bad showing – Obama tanks in two or three of the early primaries. Game over. South Carolina isn’t even an issue if this happens.

If you notice, black voters have no real impact in any of these scenarios. And of course, Obama can take the black vote for granted in the general election. The only scenario I can imagine where the black vote will matter is if the early primaries end up with three candidates splitting the three primaries (e.g., Hillary wins in NH, Edwards gets Iowa, and Obama gets NV). Then the expectation of a Hillary cake walk is shattered, which allows Edwards, a local favorite, to split the white democrats in South Carolina. If Edwards and Hillary do manage to split white SC democrats, then Obama’s possible strength in the black community may allow him to assemble a winning coalition of white anti-hillarite professionals and African Americans. Otherwise, when you sit down and count votes, you can see that Obama faces the unusual possibility of being the first Black president who was elected without any extra effort to mobilize the black vote.

Written by fabiorojas

February 9, 2007 at 6:18 am