The Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics seeks to strengthen teaching and research about pressing ethical issues; to foster sound norms of ethical reasoning and civic discussion; and to share the work of our community in the public interest.
Our new “Community Profiles” interview series highlights the longstanding members of our community at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.
An Interview with Myisha Cherry
Myisha Cherry is an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of California, Riverside. Her research interest lies at the intersection of moral psychology and social and political philosophy. More specifically she is interested in the role of emotions and attitudes in public life.
In 2016-17, Cherry was a Visiting Edmond J. Safra Graduate Fellow in Ethics at Harvard University. Her recent book, The Case for Rage: Why Anger is Essential to Anti-Racist Struggle (Oxford University Press, 2021) argues that anger at racial injustice is important for anti-racism work. Myisha Cherry holds a BA in philosophy from Morgan State University, a Master of Divinity from Howard University, and a Masters and Ph.D. in philosophy from University of Illinois, Chicago. She also hosts the UnMute Podcast, a podcast where she interviews philosophers about the social and political issues of our day.
This conversation happened on November 9, 2021. The transcript of the interview has been edited for clarity.
Alexis Jimenez Maldonado: You have been a part of the Center since 2016, when you were a visiting graduate fellow. It’s actually rare for the Center to accept visiting graduate fellows at all. Can you talk about how you became aware of the Center and what drew you towards pursuing a graduate fellowship?
Myisha Cherry: Tommie Shelby, he's on the faculty committee at the Center, told me about the program. He knew that, at the time, I was working on a dissertation about forgiveness and he thought it was a good fit for me to be in that space. I was also surprised, and not all that optimistic, that it would be approved and accepted. Basically, my connection was to someone who was on the advisory committee who suggested that would be a good space to think through and help improve my dissertation.
I hadn’t started on the dissertation until I came to the Center. I had just completed my course work and Shelby knew I would be working on the project after that course work. I was very clear about what I wanted to do for the dissertation before even going into graduate school. He was familiar with the project I was working on and thought that would be a good place to nurture the programming of the project. My fingers were crossed for like four months and it happened and I was very grateful.
It was because of being in the program that I was able to complete my dissertation as quickly as I was able to. But ultimately, Shelby just thought it was a good fit and that it would really help me think through and complete the dissertation. I'm pretty grateful for that experience.