UA professor receives gender studies awardBy Alaina Upman | 04/21/2015 10:16pm
Jason Black is the first male to receive the Gender Scholar of the Year Award of 2015. UA News
Black, associate professor of communication studies and affiliate professor of gender and race studies, said it is an honor to be the recipient of this award because it is an organic award that comes from his peers rather than through a competition. He said it’s honoring to have his colleagues recognize the work he has done throughout his career and recognize him individually.
Black said two of his three books have contributed to his winning the Gender Scholar of the Year Award. One of the criteria of the award is to have work published in the area of gender studies. He said he believes the book that stands out the most as it relates to the award is “An Archive of Hope: Harvey Milk’s Speeches and Writings,” published in 2013.
“Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected U.S. official in history,” Black said. “Milk was active in politics in California in the late 1970s, and so a colleague and I went out to the archive in San Francisco recently and found a whole bunch of his speeches. They had never been studied before.”
Black and his colleague put together a collection of Milk’s speeches representing the goals of 1970s LGBT activists of changing the social conditions. The groups worked to liberate themselves from oppression and homophobia, he said.
“Gender studies is not necessarily limited to women’s studies but also [includes] masculinity studies and race studies, particularly the way race and gender combine,” Black said. “Sexuality and gender go hand in hand. We can’t divorce or disentangle those from each other.”
Black said he is humbled to be a part of the 24 individuals who have been recognized before him. Two of the previous award winners are Black’s career mentors.
“Of those  folks, every single one of them are path, finders in gender studies,” he said. “Every single one of them is well-published, they are known as good teachers and mentors, they are known as good colleagues and friends, they are known as good community activists. The great thing is, is that I can kind of count myself in that group of really dedicated folks who are interested in changing the way we understand gender.”
Adam Sharples, a doctoral student studying communication and information sciences and Black’s doctoral advisee, said Black is an incredible academic citizen and absolutely loves what he is doing. He inspired Sharples to get his doctoral degree in rhetoric, he said. He said Black also has an incredibly infectious personality in everything he does.
“From his research to the way he interacts with students, he’s the type of person – if you spend five minutes with him, you walk away jazzed about whatever project you’re going to work on,” Sharples said.
Sharples said Black has intersectional approaches to his research. He finds the voices that get silenced in society and makes ways to figure out how they can make stages for them, he said.
“His research is foundational and provides future scholars and researchers a wealth of information to draw from,” Sharples said. “It’s one of the many reasons why Jason was selected to win the award.”
Sharples’s and Black’s department is supportive of the kind of work they do, Black said.
“I am grateful for the opportunities the University has offered me to do this kind of work,” he said. “I’m thankful for the safe and comfortable space the University has created for me to be able to do the kind of work that I do.”