Meet 2016 Diversity Champion Derrick Brooms

In this Q&A we find out about Professor Brooms commitment to diversity. Instruction, research, and service are not just part of his professional life but also part of his social life. He engages with underrepresented populations and with students who face various risks and are high need. Read more about Dr. Brooms.
Meet 2016 Diversity Champion Derrick Brooms

Dr. Derrick Brooms, 2016 Diversity Champion

Brooms’ research focuses on African American identity and culture

Department: Sociology
Years at UofL: 3
Degree: PhD, Loyola University Chicago; BA African and African-American Studies, University of Chicago

Dr. Derrick Brooms prefers to think of himself not only as a scholar, but as an “educational activist.” And he was awarded the 2016 Diversity Champion Award for embodying that role above and beyond his duty as a professor and researcher.

With “a trajectory filled with unlimited potential,” according to Dr. James L. Moore of The Ohio State University, Moore embodies in practice and intellectually the qualities of a champion of diversity. The Diversity Champion award honored Dr. Brooms for his understanding that a commitment to diversity means focusing on dismantling the unjust structures that systematically marginalize or exclude some, while privileging and advantaging others; his work to consistently promote an inclusive campus community at UofL; his on-going commitment to diversity; his understanding of how the commitment to diversity is an integral part of the College’s mission and inseparable from the goal of excellence in achieving that mission; and  for going beyond his job description or student responsibilities to accomplish these objectives.  

Dr. Brooms' efforts in promoting diversity and inclusion are boundless, encompassing nearly every aspect of his professional and social life.  

From Prof. Brooms:
A good portion of the research and creative activities that I do is publicly engaged scholarship. In this realm, my work is motivated by the larger umbrella of sociology along with demographic and sociocultural influences - such as race, ethnicity, gender, and age. These activities directly align with activities for which I am evaluated: instruction, research, and service. Additionally, the services that I engage in - College of Arts & Sciences Diversity Committee, Inclusive Teaching Circles, African American Male Initiative, and the Association of Black Sociologists to name a few - are all interwoven in enhancing my own teaching, research and service.

My research and service are publicly engaging activities that contribute to a number of communities - for which I have been invited to speak with students, staff, faculty, and other constituents. In my work with African American males, I am continuously engaged with this student population here on campus, presenting research at professional conferences, and engaging with colleagues across college and university campuses on programming and organizational efforts along with student engagement and leadership. Furthermore, I intentionally engage in these services as measures to contribute to the classroom and the institution along with the Louisville Community (such as the high school connection program and the Network Center for Community Change) and the broader community as well (Black male collegians, the sociology profession, and various other communities).

My professional responsibilities demand that I engage in and with underrepresented populations and with students who face various risks and are high need. This work is important not only within the communities where I engage but also to the institution as well.

Research Focus:
My research has two primary areas of focus. First, I examine the lived experiences of African American men with a particular focus on their educational experiences. In this realm, I investigate their experiences at both the secondary and postsecondary levels. At the secondary level, I examine school culture, resilience, motivation, and academic achievement; at the postsecondary level, I focus on campus climate, peer relations, involvement on campus, and persistence.

Additionally, I also am interested in how relationships and experiences with race impact the lives of African Americans. My second area of research examines how they are represented within the media, with particular attention to museums. Here, I explore collective identity, collective memory, representation strategies, and the narratives deployed in museums.

Recent publications:
We Didn’t Let the Neighborhood Win: Black Male Students’ Experiences in Negotiating and Navigating an Urban Neighborhood. Journal of Negro Education 84(3): 13. (2015)

We Need More of This: Engaging Black Men on College Campuses. College Student Affairs Journal 33(1): 19. (2015)

Who had the greatest influence on your career path?
I have had a number of people influence my career path. Most importantly, my father supported my academic efforts at each level as well as supporting a variety of my professional experiences. I was blessed and fortunate to engage with Dr. Edgar Epps during my undergraduate years. Dr. Epps' research focused on African Americans in higher education. I had the opportunity to take several of his classes, through which I was exposed to a wide range of literature that helped me develop a contextual knowledge to better understand urban education, academic aspirations, and higher education.

Additionally, my learning experiences with Dr. Ayana Karanja, who served as my dissertation chair, helped certify my goals for a career as a faculty member. She stimulated my intellectual growth, challenged my ways of knowing, and reaffirmed my aspirations for excellence.

Also, I had a number of professors who modeled what I wanted to accomplish, such as Dr. Daniel Black, Dr. Sandra Taylor, and Dr. David Dorsey (Clark Atlanta University) to name a few.

If funding were unlimited, what would you choose to research?
If funding were unlimited, I would choose to research the same topics that I investigate now – the lived experiences of Black males and representations of African Americans in the media. These issues are pertinent to the fields of sociology, education, and Africana/Pan-African/Black Studies and are relevant to multiple communities as well. If I received funding, I would complicate my research further to speak to multiple social identities across a broader spectrum of students and I would extend my museum research into an international context.

What is something your colleagues don’t know about you?
One thing that my colleagues don't know about me is that I enjoy playing miniature golf.

Who or what inspires you?
I remain inspired by our youth. It is a privilege to share space with them and learn from their voices and experiences--they have so much to offer us. I remain inspired by their efforts to achieve in spite of lacking resources and opportunities and I am inspired by their willingness to dream and hope for a better future--for themselves, their families, and communities. Also, I am inspired by our elders and ancestors who gave birth to our present possibilities.

What’s the most thrilling or adventurous thing you’ve ever done?
One of the most adventurous things that I have done is to hike up Mt. Rainer to close to 7,000 feet.