Q&A with Caleb Dawson, PhD Candidate
EGAL Researcher Profile
Caleb E. Dawson is a PhD candidate in Critical Studies of Race, Class, and Gender with a Designated Emphasis in Women, Gender, and Sexuality at UC Berkeley. Caleb engages in humanistic social science research about educational institutions and social movements. He boldly researches, teaches, and intervenes about how antiblackness is nestled across the macro-, meso-, and micro-levels; how Black people experience suffering in higher education; and how Black folk sustain themselves amidst and contest oppression.
What inspired you to conduct the type of DEI research that you do?
As an undergraduate student, Black women advocated for me even while that subjected them to all sorts of racialized and gendered retaliation from their employers and supervisors. I have since become attuned to the dynamic and cross-sectional network of care and leadership that makes Black life possible in otherwise hostile institutions, and have strived to design my research to honor and support them.
How have findings from your research in the past influenced your own perspectives and leadership approach?
I have learned from previous research about nuanced distinctions in the riskiness of activism for Black campus leaders. It seems to vary considerably by organizational group status, gender, and the type of activism that a person engages in. I also learned that coalitions across groups can decrease the riskiness to vulnerable leaders and increase the impact on power brokers. Accordingly, I have supported coalition building across Black undergraduate students, graduate students, staff, faculty, and administrators. Through coalition-based activism, we can grasp a fuller picture of Black peoples’ needs and desires and we can mobilize according to the dynamic means of the entire group.
Who is a notable Equity Fluent Leader who inspires you? What are the traits that make them such an effective leader?
One of my immediate shoutouts goes to Dr. Mia Settles-Tidwell who is now the Vice Chancellor for Inclusive Excellence at California State University, Sacramento. She is a Black Berkeley alumnae who returned as an administrator to lead our campus in better service of marginalized peoples. She has refused to dissociate her politicized identity and convictions from her position of authority, and has worked diligently in-front and behind the scenes to address major crises and more subtle injustices. I am so proud to call her a friend, mentor, and co-conspirator!