July 2018 Newsletter www.orwac.org
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01/31/2018

Ask the Oracle

Melissa Harris interviews Dr. Tia C. M. Tyree

Dr. Tia C. M. Tyree is a Professor in the Department of Strategic, Legal and Management Communications at Howard University.

Melissa Harris:  Currently, media coverage is punctuated by women becoming more publicly vocal regarding a myriad of issues, including politics, the gender wage gap, and sexual harassment. As researchers, how can scholars engage #MeToo in the most impactful way?

Dr. Tyree: First, me, too.Dr. Tia C. M. Tyree

Second, I would have never made such a bold, public and personal declaration of the abuse in my life without the recent support of the women who have joined forces to raise their voices to evoke change through the MeToo Movement.

Third, and most importantly, we can all do our part to make a difference. So many women feel hopeless, helpless and voiceless. Of course, they should not feel this way, as we all have sheros inside waiting to make a difference. However, as a community of scholars, we are situated in a powerful position to bring hope, help and voice to all women. We not only have the education denied to so many women and girls around the world, but we have the platforms to personally educate young women going into the workforce as well as bring new knowledge to the world through our scholarship.

I always ask my doctoral advisees why they select their dissertation topics. The answers to this question usually involve profoundly personal stories about a moment or moments in the students’ lives that undergird their desires to study certain topics. I then work very hard to ensure they feel supported and nurtured through the journey to not only complete their graduation requirement, but explore the issues deeply rooted in their personal experiences.

Each of us has a story tell, an issue to investigate or a phenomenon to highlight related to our womanhood. We need to be inspired by the MeToo Movement to move forward and evoke change. Our scholarship has meaning and can make a difference. We cannot and should not be afraid to investigate topics that are taboo or may not fit within the neat research lanes we have drawn for ourselves. It is time to break through the constraints put around us. This is the moment. This is our moment to do it.

Perhaps, it is inspiration you seek. There are many places to have scholarly exchanges in social media and online. From LinkedIn, Academia Stack Exchange and Academia.edu, scholars are connecting to exchange ideas, meet each other and share scholarship. Facebook also has numerous groups designed to bring women together to discuss research.

Many of us work alongside other faculty who share similar research interest, but we often do not stop to discuss possible collaborations. The MeToo Movement can be the starting point for a conversation. You can also search the National Archives by research topic to find ideas. There is a section for women. You, too, can lean on the very researchers you have read in the past who have left ideas in their research for future studies. Many of us often take the time to offer ideas to others in our research, and we should all use this time as great opportunity to reread past studies for inspiration. Finally, this very organization can be the catalyst for the development of a collective research agenda for members to investigate 

More importantly, as women, our lives are complex. We are not a homogeneous group. Therefore, understanding intersectionality should be critical to our investigations. It relates to the consideration of the differences that exist when the interconnected nature of gender, class, race, ethnicity, sexuality and other social categorizations overlap to create discrimination or disadvantages. Investigating our multiple identities through our lived experiences is important for us all to do.

As a musicologist, I always believe in the power of song. We can truly be inspired by so much of the music around us. The MeToo Movement reminds me of Rachel Platten’s Fight Song. The lyrics are “I might only have one match, but I can make an explosion.” Each of us can take one thought and turn it into one study, and this one study can make a difference. Collectively, when we each agree to use our agency to create knowledge designed to impact our sisterhood, it will have a profoundly positive ripple effect in the world. 

This is the time to fight. I am ready. You, too?

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