Does academia = expertise?

For this week’s blog post I’d like to focus of the Forbes reading, “Do These Earrings Make Me Look Dumb?” It detailed an account of a transsexual woman who also is a scientist and an acclaimed academic. In her account, she discussed the hurdles and curiosities presented when speaking of gender. However, the curiosity did not stem from lack of knowledge but rather, acquiring the title of speaking of it at an expert level. Since she was not “professionally” taught on the subject, there’s some speculation on whether or not she’s considered an expert. I chose this reading because I felt that this situation can be universal and portrayed in so many other scenarios. For example, I, as a African-American, consider myself well-read when it comes to my race (part of my identity) however, I’ve got the feeling that I may not comment on the subject due to my lack of academic training on the subject. Perhaps, though, since I’ve grown and lived within the race and am the ultimate ethnographer for my own life, I have the merit to speak on the subject at non-expert but equal level that academics do. I may not use the same language as they do but I’ve been immersed in the culture and race my whole life and I believe that there is essential understanding that’s coupled with that upbringing that need not require an academic training to speak at an expert level. Regarding the reading, I readily believe that Forbes is probably eligible to speak on gender as an academic expert. That being said, it may be more direct to say that she’d be able to identify and elaborate on maybe a cohort of gender and not the theory itself. I’m not sure. However, I ultimately believe that having an academic background is not required for one to speak as an expert on any topic. Learning takes place everywhere, everyday, and even when we don’t realize. Thoughts?


One thought on “Does academia = expertise?

  1. The Forbes reading also really connected with me. It is honestly incredible the amount of times that I have heard, “I have read about this before” or “I just watched something on tv about this” when talking about different identities that i associate with. Understandably, having some sort of academic background on issues allow an indiviudal to be able to talk about certain topics in an educable manner. At the same time however, a person’s experiences should never be taken for granted but rather used as a basis for discussion. One of my favorite lines of the article was that a life should not fit into a theory but a theory should fit into a life. Rather than trying to fit the things that we read or hear about into our lives, our lives in it of themselves are endless databases of knowledge and theory should be able to mold around it. As with you, I am an African American and consider myself well read into my and my peoples’ past. Growing up however, and even now, i often do find myself in situations in which i am not comfortable sharing thoughts, simply due to the fact that I do not want to be the voice of an entire race, that my thoughts, actions and experiences will not align with those who look like me. I do however believe that my experiences are enough for me to talk about race issues, and simply having an academic background helps.


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