This paper provides a phenomenological analysis of the navigation of academia as experienced by two Black scholars, situated in dissimilar disciplinary and cultural traditions and origins. What is shared is an interest in the academic space that exists within which Black scholars may freely roam, and the structure and function of the boundaries that are present. The policing of Black thought and Black emotion within those boundaries, the violence with which the boundaries are enforced, and the strategies and rationales employed by Black academics in expanding, resisting, subverting, and acquiescing to said boundaries is explored by way of the authors’ testimonies. Drawing on our lived experience of academia, we suggest that the academy functions as a frontier of racist violence, where the thinking that grounds state-based racist violence is taught, legitimated and fostered.
Through a dialogue which brings to the fore the tensions and contradictions of the outlooks and strategies employed by Black academics, we testify to the emancipatory potential of Black pain, Black rage and Black thought.