Peace and love, y’all! I Charles Davis and I am an assistant professor in @CSHPE where my work focus on issues of race, racism, and resistance in higher education. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@CSHPE @AERADivJGradNet Excited to tackle today’s questions with my amazing colleagues @katsch0, @DrBritWilliams, and @ant_duran about brand building. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@CSHPE @AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran As you may know, we have predetermined questions for today’s chat, but I will do my best to answer any replies I can in between question responses #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@CSHPE @AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran My goal is to be as honest, transparent, and reasonably critical about brand building in our academic community. My perspectives are in no way gospel, so please interpret and reframe things that better align with your own thinking. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@CSHPE @AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran A1 The first step to building any strong brand, whether in business or as an individual, is to be clear on one’s identity and purpose as it currently exists and translating that understanding to various public domains.  #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@CSHPE @AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran A1 As scholars, manifestation foremost means how we present in our writing and presentations of our research. However, and I think more importantly, it also means how we develop and maintain relationships in our proximity. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran A1 All too often we become disconnected from ‘the work’ in the lives of everyday people in exchange for rhetoric that suggests we are something ideologically that we are not in practice. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran A1 That is to say, we are more than what we produce. Our relationships can either strengthen or weaken our brand image. This is especially true of relationships with our students and colleagues, which are testaments to our legitimacy and authenticity. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran A1 As someone who publicly says they're committed to doing right by and being in right relationship with Black people, I have to demonstrate that not only in my scholarship and rhetoric, but in the way I actually treat and commune with Black people. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran A1 This means Black folks in my family, organizations of which I am a part, and everyday Black people I encounter along the way. I can neither write nor teach about anti-Blackness, if I am not living actually pro-Black anti-misogynistic life. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran A1 A second and equally important aspect of brand building is defining your audience. That is, who do you want to speak to with your brand? This helps determine messaging and imagery as you build your presence online. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran A1 For some this may mean your peers, others might focus on more senior colleagues and institutions for job market prospects. It could also be both/and or different at different times in your journey. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran A1 It might also differ based on specific types of content associated with your brand, which is perfectly fine. Simply be mindful, target your content to your audience(s), and prioritize audiences to guide where your brand will go over time. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran A2 I am probably a unique case in that my former career was in advertising as a designer and digital media strategist, so I have drawn from those skills and experiences to personally develop my website and social media content. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran A2 Of course, I do have a small group of other Black creatives and scholars I with whom I share and receive feedback throughout the creative process. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran A2 Like peer-review, this is an opportunity for me to learn from people in my “target audience” about how they receive what I put out into the world and how I can improve upon earlier drafts. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran A2 Additionally, although my own artistic practice includes photography, I had to relinquish control and build with others I consider dope, like @huny, to capture an aesthetic of who I was personally, politically, and professionally. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A2 I literally just refreshed my site ( and built the color palette and mood it entirely around @huny’s photos. All that said, a few considerations: #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A2 Websites need content (images, videos, texts, documents, etc.) and copy (the words used throughout to illustrate each section of your site. If you work with a designer, they will need you to create these things to populate your sight. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A2 Spend time planning out what you want included in your sight, identifying what you already have, and begin creating other things you may need. Ask a colleague to proof read ALL your copy for typos and errors. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A2 Although there may be pressure to conform to prescribed (and problematic) ideas of professionalism, consider disrupting those boundaries if they conflict with your desire to remain authentic and be seen as a full human being. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A2 This applies to both your website as well as social media. To be clear, doing so is not always without consequence for Black and other minoritized scholars. However, there are also consequences for reenforcing oppressive norms of professionalism. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A2 Lastly, a custom content-driven website isn’t always needed or best for academic work. For that, I recommend all scholars consider a site. It’s simple and organizes your work seamlessly for others to access. I use both.#DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A3 I mainly promote my platforms by including links to them in my various talks, op-eds, presentations, and bio – when shared externally – etc. I also often include my website and Twitter handle in my contact info and email signatures. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A3 Additionally, and importantly, I try to maintain a regular flow of engagement to let folks know I am an active participant in these digital spaces (like this Twitter chat). I try to add news, blogs, and other content to my website as well. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A3 To keep engagement manageable, I take an integrated marketing approach where I can syndicate my content across multiple platforms. For example, if I publish a piece, I post about it on my website(s) and all relevant social media accounts #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A3 More critical than these active strategies is doing ‘good work’. There is a tendency in such a mediated society to promote, promote, promote! But when we promote without the work, we feed the ego rather than serve purposes greater than ourselves. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A3 ‘Good work’ gets recognized and promoted (bad work too LOL), although not always immediate or instant. These things take time, diligence, and most of all patience. I, for example, never had a viral moment to generate a following socially. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A3 Instead, I had a number of opportunities, successes, and failures over more than a decade of having online presence that slowly grew interest and support for my contributions within and beyond the field of higher education. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A3 This is important. Taking a long-term approach of focusing on one’s work ensures they do not become distracted or allured by the emptiness of notoriety based on pretense rather than the substance of one’s contribution. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A3 It also ensures we are not swayed by some nebulous, clamoring public with whom we are not in real relationship but merely transact. Transactions often create vulnerability to unprincipled scrutiny; relationships over time build trust and solidarity. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A4 I’m a bit of a traditionalist in this regard and try not to network online (even if initial connections are made that way). I think its very different socially or organizationally, but prefer email, phone, or video chat to network (if not in-person). #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A4 What social media does help with is identifying people with whom I would like to be in community and better relationship. I often get introduced to folks work this way. When compelled, I may email them to set-up a time to speak and learn more. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A4 I also may meet someone then follow them on social media to gain greater sense of their work and presentation, and determine if there is alignment with my own. Obviously this goes both ways, hence the importance of embodying brand consistency. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny I also want to further amplify @ant_duran’s point about raising up and celebrating colleagues when they share their wins as well as offering affirmation when sharing their losses. Again, relationships matter and how we treat folks is important. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A5 Building a brand is an ongoing and iterative process, which is really about what artists refer to rehearsal and revision. This means we and our brands are always in the process of becoming and that is more fluid than static. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A5 This means making adjustments and full-scale changes is relatively frequent. As I mentioned, I just refreshed my website to be more consistent with who I am now as opposed to when I started it 13 years ago. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A5 Some moments were relatively short in terms of dedicated time whereas others required hours of thinking and revising, creating and revising, requesting feedback and revising. In those cases, I’ve tried to make it a part of my normal work hours. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A5 I probably spend more time than most or is recommended because of my #BIYDIY approach to my creative representation. But, again, find and work with others for whom this is their expertise to limit having to learn and think through things on your own. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A6 This is something I try not to think much about tbh. As I mentioned about doing ‘good work’, earlier, I try to focus on that and, when it’s time to promote that work, I do so strategically. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A6 One strategy I find particularly helpful is being prepared. As we know ‘success is when opportunity meets preparation’, so being prepared helps us rapidly respond in particular moments. Op-eds are a perfect example. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A6 So when a situation arose that aligned with that work, I was already in position to write relatively quickly and forcefully about the incident and provide my analysis to the public. Without preparation, the piece never would have been published. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A6 Furthermore, being able to offer commentary on a national news story within days also helped increase name recognition among that publication’s audience, including many of our colleagues. I’ve repeated this approach several times since. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A6 Now, I’d be remiss for not also stating plainly that my institutional affiliations and proximity to certain scholars over the years has privileged me with a platform to promote and engage my work nationally in ways not always accessible for others. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A6 At the same time, those relationships and affiliations have also created some serious tensions that have not always worked out in my favor and have led to a number of professional challenges. Another story for another day, I digress. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A7 One thing, which I thought I understood but did not until much later, was the extent to which professional jealously and theft would be results of my attempt to represent myself in particular ways online. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A7 To be clear, this started in 07-08 for me, a time where it was not common for many and even most academics to have strong or curated web presences. My very first academic mentor #RIP, who was a Black public intellectual, told me of his experiences. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A7 He said then that what I was doing, like his own experience, would not be received well by many, especially more senior scholars who felt it was too audacious for a graduate student with otherwise little work to show (see my earlier points in A3). #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny A7 This was entirely true and I would get a dose of those sentiments consistently during my time at @PennGSE as a student. In fairness, at the time, I did not have much what we would consider academic work undergirding my online presence. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny @PennGSE A7 But, I did have other things as a practitioner and former student leader. In hindsight, and after another intervention from a different mentor later, I learned a lot about why doing my work was so critical to everything else. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny @PennGSE A7 By doing my work, irrespective of issues related to professional jealousy or envy, I would create for myself a certain undeniability about whether I was a “serious” (read as legitimate) scholar (or serious organizer for that matter). #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny @PennGSE A7 As such, I was able to shift my energies to producing good work and developing real relationships (and letting go of others) that would challenge any illegitimate claims about the integrity of my scholarship or commitment to everyday organizing. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny @PennGSE A7 In that way, I had to resolve myself to understanding that folks could be mad, BIG mad if they wanted, and that was on them. But, they couldn’t legitimately question my the quality of work and that was on me. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny @PennGSE Another thing I’ll mention, which I think matters, is that having good models outside our field is really important. I am tremendously indebted to @tressiemcphd, @KieseLaymon, @divafeminist, @marclamonthill, @tamaranopper, and @HariZiyad among others. #DivJChat @AERADivJGradNet
@AERADivJGradNet @katsch0 @DrBritWilliams @ant_duran @huny @PennGSE @tressiemcphd @KieseLaymon @divafeminist @marclamonthill @tamaranopper @HariZiyad They all embody and practice so many of the things I mentioned in this #divjchat this afternoon and I honestly wouldn’t be who I am professionally without their modeling and demonstration of wrestling publicly with authenticity, legitimacy, and transparency @AERADiv_J

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More from @hfdavis

6 Jan
I take one day off from being #onhere to get ready for the semester and miss almost the entire act of domestic terrorism happening in D.C.
The discourse about this whole thing is something else to say the least. The comparisons to other countries wreaks of unoriginal exceptionalism that ought to be entirely illegitimate by now.
Not to mention the feigning outrage of “how could this happen?!” Like the Capitol has not, since its inception, housed white supremacy and white supremacists enacting violence on the Nation for two centuries.
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