Responses to Sara Monoson and Alvin Tillery
September 7, 2016
The student reporter for the Daily
asked that I comment here on Alvin Tillery's claims that
he was forced to endure my "microagressions" and that he is being
victimized by a narrative of the "angry Black man." (The
Dean's ban apparently also extends to speaking with student reporters
seeking an interview, so the only place to address her questions is
here.) I also have received questions from another reporter
about the latest spin by people who seem to have nothing better to do
with their time than malign a productive and effective scholar and
teacher. Below are my replies.
While I already have colleagues running this encounter through a number
of theoretical frameworks, I am restraining myself and will focus on
the facts and also some questions that many of you reading this are
right to be asking.
1. Tillery now is accusing me of a pattern of
unspecified "microaggressions." Either Tillery is inventing
interactions that never occurred or he is having an idiosyncratic
response to general statements made in the context of department
meetings or subfield exchanges on email. (Tillery seems to have
discerned early on that the butter for his bread was coming from the
Provost and the administrative chain of command and expressed no
interest in speaking with me; as he told the Chronicle for Higher Ed,
he found me "creepy." We seldom even were in the same room or spoke.)
2. If Tillery were feeling insulted by me, then why not file
a complaint tied to a specific action and, if we were unable to resolve
it within the department, bring in a mediator? Why be
used by people whose causes, according to Tillery, are not his own? Does
he want to solve a problem or be part of a mob?
3. The letter banning me indicates no specific actions
associated with microagressions against Tillery. As I
mentioned, it indicates no specific actions whatsoever, just fear
based, in Tillery's case, on the observation that people are violent in
the workplace "all the time."
4. Tillery apparently told the Daily Northwestern that that
my complaint about him yelling and slamming the door is complicit in
the "angry Black man" narrative. Could be, though Tillery's
self-presentation as a dutiful political scientist who goes out of his
way to assist Northwestern execute its neoliberal priorities doesn't
quite fit the bill. Regardless, I don't make up
these narratives. The fact that Tillery's behavior could be
narrated as that of the angry Black man is beyond his control, and mine
as well. If the accurate, unblemished account of him yelling
and slamming a door
further propogates that image, this is unfortunate and of course not my
5. Not beyond Tillery's control: 1) exploding and
persisting in yelling at me after I asked that he lower his voice; 2)
slamming the door; 3) lying about it.
6. Also not beyond Tillery's control: deciding that the way
to assuage his anxieties is to suck up to the administration and trot
out the "she's-blaming-the-angry-black-man" story in order to ban me.
7. The absence in one's scholarship or public
politics of a narrative of personal trauma is not noble, but it also is
not evidence of a biography unblemished by violence.
8. In Tuesday's statements to the reporter for Inside Higher Ed,
Monoson and Tillery are claiming I am disruptive, threatening, and so
forth. Why these general statements and no specific examples?
"Lots of people agree with us" is not evidence of misconduct nor
grounds for banning me, even if Monoson's and Tillery's gang dislikes
9. There is a huge amount of information being circulated
about me that appears factual but is complete fantasy. Two
issues need immediate correction and I'll address others later: a) I
have never been fired from any job, anywhere. Indeed I have never
been sanctioned or disciplined, including, by the way, now, or at least that's their official story. To
date I have been charged with nothing; that's the problem. b) People
are not banned
because students drop a class, nor was I. Like other issues,
this was manufactured for the purpose of banning me.
I cannot go into any details because of
privacy laws but I can say that an NU official sent me an email on May
3, 2016 stating that "we have no records about you at TGS [The Graduate
School] that are in any way negative" and that referenced the situation
with the drops as "between you and your department" and does not involve students.
Moreover, the same quarter of the drops, students in
another seminar gave me high marks and have written to the Dean on my
10. Tillery claims that because I said my phone was under
surveillance, I am a nut job. This suggests he has not read a newspaper
in the last few years. To the point, a digital forensics
expert who has been a witness in over 200 cases
will testify that my phone had malware installed that was consistent
with it being under surveillance by the government and not corporate
espionage. I have records from Sprint and video that document
effects, and colleagues and students can attest to seeing my phone in
the French network, even though my phone supposedly is not technically
capable of this.
Those attacking me are squandering their privilege. They allege, with zero evidence, that I am a threat.
But if they prevail, our jobs are pointless. Their PhDs and our students' PhDs will do little more
than allow them to mouth whatever harmless inananities Abbott, Boeing,
Caterpillar, and General Dynamics deem fit, since clearly these
interests and not forces on behalf of an independent academy are behind
this disgraceful action. The actions by Sara Monoson and Al
Tillery, not to mention Lindsay Chase-Lansdale, Daniel Linzer,
and Adrian Randolph, suggest they are so self-absobed by the
task of controlling me that they have lost sight of why they have their
jobs in the first place.