Introducing the CRTc Official Blog: The Bell Ringer
The Bell Ringer – Managing Editor
Africana Studies Librarian, University of Connecticut
Dr. Alice Corble
The Bell Ringer – Associate Editor
Editorial Coordinating Manager, Critical Race Theory collective
Dr. Anthony W. Dunbar (Tony)
The Bell Ringer – Assistant Editor
Coordinating Editor, Critical Race Theory collective
In 2021, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, a group of information professionals and scholar-activists from different parts of the globe joined together to form the Critical Race Theory Collective (CRTc). We were brought together by our shared commitment to fostering racial equity and justice in our communities and workplaces. We sought to learn from and with one another and to meaningfully engage with Critical Race scholars and theorists.
In our first virtual gathering, where many of us had met for the first time, we plotted a vision for ourselves. CRTc is an evolving, inclusive organization that aims to foster discourse and encourage new scholarship utilizing a critical race theory framework. Our work is rooted in the foundational scholarship of CRT pioneers – Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Richard Delgado, and others. Together, we seek to leverage our resources to broaden the collective, seize new collaborative opportunities, and contribute to shifting thought systems and practices within our organizations and communities.
Today, we take a new step towards fulfilling this vision by launching The Bell Ringer, the official blog of the CRTcollective. Here you will find scholarly blogs and essays written by CRTc members, as well as contributing authors from around the world. We welcome interdisciplinary scholars, information professionals, educators, community organizers and activists, and students to submit your work and share your knowledge, experience, and expertise.
The Bell Ringer: What’s in a name?
The phrase “bell ringer” has multiple definitions and associations.
In an educational context, bell ringers are quick activities or assignments used by many K-12 teachers. According to Learning for Justice, “bell ringers are warm-up activities that students complete at the beginning of the class – when the bell rings.” Regardless of where you are at in your CRT educational journey, The Bell Ringer is a place to gain new knowledge and access to resources related to equity and justice.
Throughout history and around the world, bells have been used to draw the attention of others. Ye olde bell ringers, also known as town criers, “were the original ‘newsmen’… [originating] in the early Greek Mythology.” The practice of heraldry lasted “well into the 19th century, [as] people came to rely on criers… as a useful way of hearing about proclamations, edicts, laws, and news.” Historically, bell ringing has been a way of sounding the alarm, alerting the populace of important issues. The Bell Ringer carries on this tradition in a modern way, by amplifying and disseminating critical race research to help us understand our contemporary world and act in our communities.
Honoring Bell Ringers of the Past
Our blog is also named in reverence and honor of two Black liberation scholars and path-pavers — Derrick Bell and bell hooks.
Derrick Bell is considered by most to be the visionary mind who laid the groundwork for critical race theory. Jelani Cobb, journalism professor and widely read author, considers Bell to be The Man Behind Critical Race Theory. The CRTc seeks to honor Bell as a prominent voice alerting our world to the challenges as well as possibilities of courageously interrupting racism along with other forms of disenfranchisement.
bell hooks, author and womanist/black feminist activistist, developed a LOVE language of liberation from intersecting structures of power that hooks generatively describes as “imperialist-white-supremacist-capitalist-patriarchy (hooks, pg 17).” The CRTc offers the Bell Ringer Blog as our contribution to the LOVE language of liberation.
hooks, bell, 1952-2021. (2004). The will to change : men, masculinity, and love. New York: Atria Books.
CRT Before the Formalized Theory: Calling a Thing a Thing
Aisha Johnson, PhD
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Outreach, Georgia Tech CRTcollective Member
Dr. Aisha Johnson (she/her) serves as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Outreach at Georgia Tech. An educator and scholar experienced in academic program assessment and administration, curriculum development, and outreach, she stands on a soapbox of advocacy for underrepresented communities. Her scholarship focuses on the development of literacy in the African American community through the development of Southern public libraries. Dr. Johnson’s impact has been recognized with honors including Distinguished Alumni Award from Florida State University’s iSchool (2020) and the Freedom Scholar Award from Association for the Study of African American Life and History (2021).