I’ve felt at times, that professors all must have some unspoken rule that they have to speak with arcane, esoteric language – I’ve seen some hide behind their ‘doctorate’, and use it as leverage above their students in any social or professional setting. Dr. Spence is in the ranks with his students. He uses our language – highly intellectual, highly precise- but he speaks in our time….

Johns Hopkins Alumna

I am an Associate Professor of Political Science and Africana Studies at Johns Hopkins University and the Center for Emerging Media Scholar in Residence. I specialize in the study of black, racial, and urban politics. Over the past decade I’ve published articles on American institutional legitimacy in the wake of the contentious 2000 Presidential election, the effects of long-term black political empowerment on black participation, the role of media narratives on black attitudes about HIV/AIDS, and the determinants of support for black nationalism. But with my first book Stare in the Darkness: The Limits of Hip-hop and Black Politics(2011 W. E. B. Du Bois Distinguished Book Award Winner)  I’ve become particularly interested in black politics in the wake of the neoliberal turn. My second book Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics, represents a sequel of sorts.

In the classroom I strive to accomplish three goals: To infuse my love of learning and the life of the mind in my students; to make politics and the various ways we can and SHOULD think about politics real to them; and finally, to give students the capacity to change the world they live in. In 2009 I received an Excellence in Teaching Award from Johns Hopkins University.I teach an array of courses in American Politics and Africana Studies. In 2010 I received an Arts Innovation Grant to fund a course that combined Black Politics and Documentary Photography. I co-taught the course (Black Visual Politics) the following year. In 2016 I am teaching two “deep dive” courses designed to get students to understand the political circumstances leading up to the Baltimore Uprising.