NFG Community Organizing Toolbox

colist-admin at colist-admin at
Sun May 13 21:23:49 CDT 2001

[ed:  Eric continues the conversation on academic and community-based 
knowledge.  A quick note from me at the end.]

From: Eric Weir <eweir at>

At 12:47 PM 05/07/2001 -0400, "Hartnett, Helen P" <helenh at> wrote:

 >to me the issue is power, not letters after a name.

Why put the letters after the name? What are you doing when you do it?

 >"knowledge is not power-alone", but it can assist
 >in moving local power forward.

Notice, "can." Too often, it seems to me, statements coming from people
with letters after their names, by those make them and those who hear them
alike, are assumed to have a privileged legitimacy, to be more deserving of
serious consideration than those made by people without letters after their

I suggest they stop using the letters. Let their statements earn their way
in the world. [I'm not suggesting they can't, just that they should. What
else is our commitment to democracy about?]

Eric Weir
Decatur, GA
eweir at


[ed:  as I mentioned in a previous message, sometimes the community group 
actually wants the PhD after my name to help legitimize the information we 
have collectively gathered.  And I have sometimes even been yelled at by 
community people when I haven't presented myself as a degreed academic (I 
still get mistaken for a student at times--probably the long hair).  To me 
the letters are a strategic issue with status implications that need to be 
taken into account as part of the strategy.  But I do agree that letters 
should not grant automatic legitimacy and perhaps should incite automatic 

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