Bioethics Blogs

What are you doing for black philosophy?

by Keisha Ray, Ph.D.

“What are you doing for black philosophy?” This was the only line in a Facebook message that I received a few days ago from someone I did not know. My immediate reaction was one of anger. I kept thinking how dare someone ask me what I’m doing for black philosophy. That anger grew as I clicked the sender’s name and a profile did not come up. I drew the conclusion that this person is likely just an internet troll who found the profile of a seemingly black person with some relation to philosophy, sent this message to aggravate me, and then deactivated or deleted his or her profile. This is all a guess on my part.

After spending far too long being angry I tried to answer the question. My immediate answer was to question why my very existence in philosophy, and more specifically in bioethics wasn’t enough. Isn’t being doing something? We usually applaud or at least acknowledge the first African American or the first Latino (and other races) to do something that we consider noteworthy. I am by no means the first black philosopher or black bioethicist, but I am one of the few. I am one of the few representations of racial diversity in the field. And very frequently I feel the effects of being one of the few. When I go to conferences or when I attend department or university-wide meetings, it is rare that I see a face the same color as my own. On an almost daily basis I have to sort out what being one of the few means for me personally and professionally.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.