William “Sandy” Darity, Jr , Duke University


So, the first time I went to an American Economic
Association Meeting was during the year before I graduated because I was on the job market.
And so during the course of that meeting, I met Black economists who were involved in
the National Economic Association. And that’s how I started my own participation in the
organization. Well probably the most memorable moment was when the organization honored me
with the Samuel Z. Westerfield Award. That was very thrilling and I was highly highly
honored to receive that award. It is the award that’s given which is the highest honor that
the National Economic Association provides to its member economists. So that was very
special. I would love to see the NEA in a position where the NEA has truly altered or
found a way to alter the economic profession so that the economics profession doesn’t look
like a preserve that excludes Black scholars and Black scholarship. So, I would have said
that 40 years ago, so it hasn’t happened, so that’s my hope, that over the course of
the next 50 years that will occur. Obviously I won’t be around to see it but I hope that
whatever I’m doing now can help create a momentum in that direction. Maybe two major pieces
of advice. One is I think that young scholars, wherever they see injustice, should speak out
about it and not be afraid to speak out about it because of some kind of fear that they’ll
jeopardize their career. Because, my view is, if you don’t speak out before you have
tenure, you won’t speak out after you have tenure. So that’s the first piece of advice.
The second piece of advice is, this is a profession where it’s essential to meet the productivity
standards, so you should make a commitment if you choose to become a professional economist
in the academic world, you do have to make a commitment to being successful at publishing.
And I think that’s an essential dimension. We have certain kinds of penalties we face
as Black scholars, and our only protection is having a strong research portfolio.

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