Myisha Cherry is a philosopher whose research interest lies at the intersection of moral psychology and social and political philosophy. She is a former faculty associate at John Jay College Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics. She is also a former lecturer at the City University of New York, St. Johns University, St. Francis College, and Long Island University, where she taught courses in moral philosophy, philosophy of religion, and ethics and law. In 2018, she will join the department of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside as an Assistant Professor.
Cherry is the co-editor of ‘The Moral Psychology of Anger‘ (with Owen Flanagan), forthcoming with Rowman and Littlefield. She has written about emotions, race, state violence, and the philosophy profession in such journals as Hypatia, Radical Philosophy Review, and Critical Philosophy of Race. In addition to her academic work, she has written publicly about political emotions, race, and justice for the Los Angeles Times, Salon, and the Huffington Post. She has contributed essays to three volumes of Open Court’s Philosophy and Pop Culture Series, exploring themes such as manipulation, white privilege, and community and police relations. Cherry is also the host of the UnMute Podcast, a podcast where she interviews philosophers about the social and political issues of our day.
Myisha Cherry holds a BA in philosophy from Morgan State University, a Masters of Divinity from Howard University, and a Masters in Philosophy from University of Illinois, Chicago. She is currently a PhD candidate in Philosophy at the University of Illinois, Chicago. Her dissertation looks at what we may reasonable asks of citizens in the pursuit of moral repair and political reconciliation. The requests she specifically focuses on are requests for forgiveness aimed at black victims of anti-black racism, white violence, and state violence. In 2016-17, Cherry was a Visiting Edmond J. Safra Graduate Fellow in Ethics. Currently, she is an Advancing Equity Through Research Fellow (formerly the Research on Women and Girls of Color Fellow) at the Hutchins Center for African and African American Research at Harvard University and a Santayana Fellow in the Harvard Department of Philosophy. She is proud to have been born to and raised by Vernell Cherry, a physically disabled single-parent, who taught her the importance of service, accountability, and perseverance.
LETS CHAT …
SO WHAT DO YOU DO?
I am a philosopher and educator. Yes, there exist philosophers who are Black and are women.
So what exactly is a philosopher? Well, I am interested in lots of things that psychologists, neuroscientists, and activists find interesting but the questions I ask are quite different. Instead of asking how the brain works, I ask given that the brain works this way, how does this inform what we should do? Or if anger occurs in the motivational part of the brain, what does this say about its usefulness in politics? Or if there is an injustice, who is responsible for rectifying it and what would be an apt. way of doing so?
WHAT ARE YOU WORKING ON?
I am doing work at the intersection of moral psychology and political philosophy, with special interest in political and moral emotions. My research intersects with issues of race and gender. Currently, I am doing work on anger, empathy, and forgiveness. You can read some preliminary thoughts about my dissertation here. I also am currently co-editing ‘The Moral Psychology of Anger’ with Owen Flanagan (currently under contract at Rowman and Littlefield).
A former educator at the Fortune Society, an organization that supports successful reentry from prison and promotes alternatives to Incarceration and a Former Faculty Associate in John Jay’s Institute for Criminal Justice Ethics, I am also passionate about criminal justice ethics and mass incarceration. A recent essay on black lives matter, state racism, and state violence published in the Oxford Handbook for Philosophy of Race can be found here. I’ve also recently published work on empathy and race. Philosophically, I find forgiveness, character, and emotions very fasinating and I am interested in how race, class, and gender affects how we conceive of the three.
HOW DO YOU VIEW YOURSELF WITHIN THE PHILOSOPHICAL TRADITION?
Like David Hume, I am interested in human nature, empiricism, and moral psychology. Like Nietzsche, I see myself as an iconoclast engaging in a revaluation of values. But my purpose for doing so can be found within the African-American and feminist philosophy tradition. My work always has as its end goal this question: How can my work aid in the empowerment and liberation of those who are marginalized and oppressed?
WHAT DO YOU TEACH?
I have over 10 years of experience teaching on the university level. I teach courses in ethics, ethics and law, and social and political philosophy. I have taught philosophy at University of Maryland Baltimore County, City University of New York (John Jay College and York College), Long Island University, St. Johns University, and St. Francis College. I do not only teach college students. During several summers, I have taught philosophy to high school students at Columbia University, organized a summer philosophy program for formerly incarcerated adults at John Jay College, and I have taught debate and critical thinking to high school students in Harlem, NY.
IS EVERYTHING ABOUT THE ACADEMY?
No. I am a blogger for the Huffington Post , a contributor for Enterprenuer.com, and I have written for Salon.com and the LA Times. My Op-Eds is where I like to explicitly merge philosophical ideas with contemporary news. I am also a former music reviewer for allhiphop.com URB magazine, and OkayPlayer.com. Yup!! I have appeared on BET and HuffPost Live to offer up social commentary on issues of race, gender, and ethics.
In 2015, I created the UnMute Podcast. The purpose of the podcast is to make philosophy accessible and to also provide a platform for people and topics that have not been given much attention in mainstream philosophy. At UnMute, I interview young, brilliant, and diverse philosophers as they give their take on controversial issues, pop culture, and the social and political dramas of our day. We laugh. We learn. We plot revolutions.
When I’m not teaching, I hope I am writing. When I procrastinate about that, I ride my bike & longboard, run 5K’s and participate in adventure races, roam comic book stores, obsess about Lebron James, and engage with the world through social media.
ARE YOU AN ANTI-SOCIAL PHILOSOPHER?
Of course not! If you have a question, you can reach me by email or social media. I am also experienced with speaking to audiences in academic settings where I have given talks recently at Princeton, University of Michigan, Harvard University, and the University of Witts in South Africa. I also have experience with non-academic settings as I have spoken at South By South West Edu (SXSWedu) and TEDx. I am available to present or offer social commentary on emotions and social justice, race, ethics, gender and sexuality, and mass incarceration.
Take a look around the page. I blog about anything I consider philosophical. I hope you find my videos and interviews informative. I also have some teaching and research resources that I hope are helpful. Enjoy and Share.