Sunday, October 17, 2010

Meet Dr. Boyce Watkins

Q: What do you stand for?

A: I stand for fairness and doing what is right.  I am not a Finance Professor who happens to be black, I am a black man who happens to be a Finance Professor.  There is a great deal of inequality in America that runs along racial lines.  This is due to the fact that our country has built a 400 year social, financial and educational infrastructure that promotes the advancement of one group over the other.  It is my job as a public scholar to challenge this imbalance and work to find solutions to these problems.  My primary tools of choice are education and economic empowerment.  I work hard to teach youth, especially African Americans, the value of being highly educated and the additional value that comes from becoming Financially independent and empowered. Those were the choices that changed my life and gave me the freedom and strength to express myself honestly, creatively and (some think) intelligently.

I also want to challenge the NCAA to rethink the way it treats college athletes.  As a Finance Professor, I am not sure how we can justify earning millions for our coaches and administrators,  while allowing the sources of labor (the athletes) and their families to live in poverty.  This is wrong and unAmerican, for capitalism should give us the rights to freely negotiate our wages.  When we engaged in our campaign on CNN, ESPN and CBS to challenge the actions of the NCAA, people thought I was trying to attack them.  The truth is that I don't enjoy attacking anyone, I only want to fight for fairness.  One thing that my students have always said about me (whether they love me or hate me) is that I am fair.  I call it for what it is.

Q: Your work can be controversial, why do you do it?

A: I ask myself that question every single day!  Personally, I believe that the role of the black scholar in America is to work hard to uplift our communities.   Our intellect is needed, and in addition to engaging in scholarly research that lies in dusty academic journals, we should become active in our communities and throughout the world.  I believe strongly in the concept of Scholarship in Action.  The thing about Scholarship in Action is that it requires the combination of intellect, creativity, curiosity, commitment, passion and courage that stands at the root of all true genius.  I do not consider myself a genius, but I wake up every day thinking "I am one day closer to my last day on this earth.  How can I get the best return on my investment?"  That is what keeps me going.

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