The Blackest Questions

The Blackest Questions: Insecure or Living Single?

Episode 7

Shark Scientist Carlee Jackson dives into The Blackest Questions this week. She’s the founder of Minorities in Shark Sciences but can she find a win with Dr. Greer today?


Promo [00:00:00] You are now listening to theGrio’s Black Podcast Network, Black Culture Amplified.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:00:06] Hi and welcome to the Blackest Questions. I’m your host, Dr. Christina Greer, politics editor for theGrio and associate professor of political science at Fordham University. In this podcast, we asked our guests five of the Blackest Questions so we can learn a little bit more about them and have some fun while we’re doing it. We’re also going to learn a lot about Black history, past and present. So here’s the way this works. We have five rounds of questions about us Black history, the whole diaspora, current events, everything. With each round, the questions will get a little bit tougher and the guest has 15 seconds to get it right. If they answer the question correctly, they will receive one symbolic breakfast and hear this. If they get it wrong, they’ll hear this, but we’ll still love them anyway. After the five questions, there’ll be a Black bonus question round at the end just for fun. Our guest for this episode this week is Carlee Jackson. Carlee is a shark and sea turtle scientist with an M.S. in marine biology from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. She worked with the NSU shark tagging program, tagging sharks along the coast of Broward County, Florida, and researched the effects of provisioning tourism on nurse sharks in Belize. We’ll learn more about that term shortly. Currently, she’s the co-founder and director of Communications for Minorities in Shark Sciences, called MISS. Carlee was the recipient of the 2022 Justice and Equity Diversity and Inclusion Award by the Florida Marine Science Educators Association. Previously, Carlee has worked as a research associate for the New College of Florida, assisting the Disney Conservation Team with In-Water Sea Turtle Research. She was also a marine turtle specialist at Gumbo Limbo Nature Center and an environmental educator in South Florida. And lastly, Carlee has a show called Jaws Invasion. And it can be streamed anytime on Disney Plus, which is part of their sharkfest. Again, that’s Jaws Invasion on Disney Plus. Hi Carlee. Thank you so much for joining the Blackest Questions.

Carlee Jackson [00:01:59] Hi, Christina. Thank you. I’m so excited to be here.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:02:03] I’m so excited to have you, first of all. My family’s from Florida, so I have a great love for the Florida coastline. I’ve got family in northern Florida. In southern Florida and throughout the state. Florida. And then when I saw your bio, I thought about this when I was eight years old, living in Philly. I really wanted a turtle. I was, you know, into, you know, the sciences and I love the sea. And my parents told me, Carlee, that turtles were illegal in the city of Philadelphia. And I’m embarrassed too, because they didn’t want me to have a turtle. I ended up getting a cat, which was great. But you will not believe this, Carlee, for the longest time, and I’m going to say deep into my thirties, I thought the turtles were illegal in Philadelphia.

Carlee Jackson [00:02:43] Oh, that is so funny. That is hilarious.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:02:47] Proving the point that we can have a lot of education and not a lot of common sense. But I want to know two things. How did you get into this line of work? And the second thing is what is provisioning tourism? I’ve been dying to know what that is.

Carlee Jackson [00:02:59] Yeah. So I got into this field at actually a very young age. I was about five or six years old and I read a book on sharks and that’s how I got like, that’s how I fell in love with the ocean. And I’ll also note that I am from Detroit, Michigan. So I originally grew up in Detroit. Yeah, very far away from the ocean. But yeah, this shark book, like, I just remember I was real really young and I saw this book with a picture of shark and I was like, I have to read it. And my mom was like, All right, I’ll get it for you. She got it for me. And I was, like, obsessed after reading it. Like, there was something about sharks. I was just like, This is it. That’s why I want to do. And then it stuck with me for the rest of my life. My parents were like, Oh, it is serious. So you really like sharks. But yeah, so kind of just went from there. Here I am.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:03:49] And then what is provisioning tourism?

Carlee Jackson [00:03:52] So provisioning tourism provisioning is just a fancy word for saying feeding. So it’s feeding tourism. So it’s a type of wildlife tourism that tour guides will do to get animals to come out in front of humans. Because, you know, most animals are scared of us and they need some incentive. But yeah, so provisioning tourism is just feeding animals, wildlife to get them to come around humans for tourism purposes.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:04:18] And you also you often see that like on tours where it’s like they’ll bring bread and food to like get monkeys to come out of the trees or they’re like have some sort of chum to put in the water to get animals to come. Okay. And is that a bad thing or is that something that we should be concerned about or. No?

Carlee Jackson [00:04:36] Yeah. So it’s it’s a slippery slope. So I never say if something is like bad or good because it really just depends. It depends on the area. It depends on the species of animals. But for the most part, I would I personally don’t think that feeding animals for tourism purposes is very sustainable. So, you know, I. I wouldn’t join in on the practice, but I wouldn’t pay money for the practice. But you know, there’s some places where it they’re using it as a research tool. So it depends.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:12] Okay. All right. Well, listen, are you ready?

Carlee Jackson [00:05:15] I am ready. Let’s let’s see how I do.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:18] Oh, you’re going to be fabulous. And the thing is, I think our listeners are really going to enjoy learning a lot more about the ocean and marine life. So let’s get started. Okay. First question for Carlee, who is the only female swimmer of African descent to hold a current world record in swimming in an individual event?

Carlee Jackson [00:05:40] Simon Manuel.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:42] No. No. Is Alia Atkinson.

Carlee Jackson [00:05:46] Oh, my God.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:05:47] Jamaica’s Alia Atkinson currently holds two short course meters world records in breaststroke, the 50 and the 100. She was the first Afro Jamaican to win a world title in swimming, and she holds 74 gold medals. She won a total of 124 medals, of which 74 were gold at swimming World Cup circuit throughout the course of her career. And so I started with this question because I was told you were an athletic swimmer in college.

Carlee Jackson [00:06:13] I was. And now I’m like ashamed of myself for getting that wrong. But I do know of Alia Atkinson. I definitely know of her, so. Yeah.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:06:27] And what was your race in college?

Carlee Jackson [00:06:29] I swam. Freestyle, freestyle and breaststroke. I kind of did like sprints and stuff in college, but earlier, like growing up, I did more distance events, but definitely freestyle.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:06:41] Now the only event I was ever pretty good at and not even good, but like so-so was backstroke. I really loved.

Carlee Jackson [00:06:50]  No backstroke and butterfly were like other absolute not.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:06:54] Butterfly just seems like a shoulder rotation nightmare.

Carlee Jackson [00:06:59] Exactly. And that’s why I never was good at it. Cause my shoulders don’t move that way.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:07:04] Right. Now, did you ever consider the Olympics or do you knew that you were going to go into shark sciences? And so swimming was just something that was a way for you to be in the water, but not necessarily a lifelong dream.

Carlee Jackson [00:07:15] Yeah, when I was younger, I definitely wanted to go to the Olympics. I had like, there’s a lot of stuff that went on in swimming that kind of a lot of like mental blocks that didn’t really get me to where I wanted to be. But, you know, it was okay because I still wanted to do like other stuff on the academic side. So I didn’t. You know, my entire my entire life was swimming up until college, basically, when I realized, like, you know, you’re not going to make a living from this.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:07:46] Right. But it’s interesting because growing up in Philadelphia with there was the PDR, the Philadelphia Department of Recreation, which there is a movie with Terrence Howard that was made about it. There is this interesting long history of Black people in swimming. And then it’s juxtaposed to, you know, currently I live in New York and we’ve got all these drownings that are happening this summer and a disproportionate number of drownings that happen every summer with Black children and Black people, unfortunately. So what do you feel? A way that we can get more Black people into swimming since there’s so many stigmas and I think some people have mental blocks about the water for a host of reasons, a lot of folks aren’t near water or have access to water and swim lessons. You know, in your career of swimming. How do you think that we could advance that conversation and that training with our Black community?

Carlee Jackson [00:08:33] Yeah, I love this question because it’s definitely something that is close to my heart. And I’m passionate about teaching kids, especially how to swim. And because it’s a lifesaving skill, like that’s always why it’s so important to know how to swim, because it will save your life if you’re around any type of body of water. But yeah, like swimming, especially with Black among the Black community, it’s such a generational fear as well. Like it’s started back when they were bringing us over here on slave ships, you know, like a lot of us couldn’t swim or we would just drown. And a lot of those ships and I think it’s a generational fear. And then also the fact that what like 60 years ago, we weren’t even allowed to be in the same pools, white people. So there’s just a whole lot of history with that. And I think that a good way to, you know, get more of us learning how to swim is to just continue to talk about how important it is. Like I said, it’s a lifesaving skill. It’s something that, you know, it can also open a bunch of career doors. You can go scuba diving and you can get paid good money to do work and scuba diving and just do a lot of different things with your career just because you know how to swim, swim, coach, lifeguard, get a summer job. So, yeah, swimming opens a whole lot of doors for you.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:09:58] Hmm. I love it. I love thinking about swimming, not just as lifesaving skills, but also as a way to put money in your pocket. Yeah, and it’s a different career path. Okay, so you ready for number two?

Carlee Jackson [00:10:07] I guess so. We’ll see how I do. I’m already discouraged. Just on that first question.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:14] I already learned about Alia Atkinson. I knew nothing about her. And now I can’t wait to do more research. With 74 gold medals, I feel like I should know her. She should be a household name. Okay. Question number two. This was the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in zoology. Who is she?

Carlee Jackson [00:10:32] I literally know her name. I just did a project on her. Oh, my gosh. I just. I’m having a mental block, but I know exactly her name. She’s a strong Black woman. Got a doctorate in zoology. Oh, my gosh. I see her name.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:10:51] This is what happens on the show. And I know our audience is like who is it who is it?

Carlee Jackson [00:10:55] I literally know her name and I see it in like I see the post that I made on her.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:02] It is Roger Arliner.

Carlee Jackson [00:11:04] Oh, my gosh. Yes. Roger. Arliner. Oh, my goodness. I am failing as a Black marine biologist right now.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:11:11] Not at all. Well, I know that I do not know this. I mean, I’m basically Alex Trebek, right? Like I’m pretending like, you know, I know these answers. No, I’m doing research, too. And the whole purpose of this podcast, obviously, is just to make sure that, like, there are so many great Black people who’ve done so much and are continuing to do so many interesting things in and around our world, in society. It’s important that we know who Roger Arliner Young is. So after receiving her Bachelor of Science from Howard University in 1923, she made significant contributions to our understanding of structures that control salt concentration in marine paramecium. Look at me. Single celled organisms pulling out that that ninth grade bio and 12th grade A.P. bio. So her first article on this topic was published in 1924 in the scientific journal Science, which was the first time a Black woman in this field had had her research published. And then she spent her summers at Cape Cod conducting research in Martha’s Vineyard at Woods Hole and leading the Oceanographic Institution Marine Biology Lab as a student. She then became an assistant professor at Howard, and she experienced both racial and gender based discrimination for many years during her time in Falmouth, Massachusetts, at Woods Hole and at Howard University. But despite this, Young’s dedication to science was unfailing, and she went on to receive a Ph.D. in zoology from Pennsylvania in 1940. So Dr. Young was also recognized in a congressional resolution in 2005 celebrating the accomplishments of those, quote, who have broken through many barriers to achieving greatness in science. So as a marine biologist, you are well aware of Dr. Young’s contributions to the field yes?

Carlee Jackson [00:12:47]  Yes. Yes, definitely.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:12:50] And so have you ever done any research in similar locations as to Dr. Young?

Carlee Jackson [00:12:55] I have not done research in areas that like Dr. Arliner, Dr. Roger, Arliner Young has been in. But but I do know someone who is over at Woods Hole doing some research up there. There is a really cool research facility up there in Massachusetts.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:14] Yeah, I’m familiar with Woods Hole. And, you know, that’s how I used to get to the Vineyard as a kid. Oh, yeah. And then you mentioned this book. I want to sort of circle back really quickly, because you mentioned the book as a child that sort of got you hooked. Do you remember the name of that book?

Carlee Jackson [00:13:30] Yeah, it’s literally called I’m pretty sure it just is called Sharks. Like it was um,. I actually have the book with me, but it’s called Sharks. And like I said, it just had a picture of a shark on the front. And I was just like, that was so cool. And then, yeah. And then I also this year wrote my own book on Sharks and published that this year. So it was kind of like a full circle, you know.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:13:54] Absouletly. What’s the name of the book and the publisher?

Carlee Jackson [00:13:57] So the name of the book is Sharks A Day in the Life. So it’s a part of a series called A Day in the Life where you are picking different animals to go through 24 hours and see what these different species are doing. And the publisher is MacMillen.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:12]  And is it a children’s book or is it a book for all ages?

Carlee Jackson [00:14:16] I think it is fun for all ages because it is very like packed with facts and like beautiful pictures. And the illustrations are absolutely gorgeous. If anything, I would just buy the book for the illustrations.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:28] Well, I think it’s so important because we saw how one book got you hooked and changed the trajectory of your life. And I think, you know, your book could do the same for a young Black child somewhere. You know.

Carlee Jackson [00:14:40] That’s my hope.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:41] Whether they live near a body of water or not. Okay, I’m loving this. I’m learning so much. Are we ready for question number three?

Carlee Jackson [00:14:49] I’m ready. I’m ready. Hopefully, my brain is caught up by now.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:14:53] Right. When you have brains, you know, sometimes they just like to, you know, chill out. And here we are. Inspired by the books of Jacques Cousteau’s Silent World, as well as fishing trips with their father. This coral biologist and teacher was born in Florida in 1933. Who is she?

Carlee Jackson [00:15:12] Oh, you know, I’m not as good as coral biologist, you know? You know, I’m not sure I don’t know.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:24] I know our audience. Like, who are these people? Okay. I’m learning so much today. The person is Dr. Joan Merle Owen.

Carlee Jackson [00:15:32] Okay. I have heard of Dr. Owen. You’ve heard.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:15:34] Of. I mean, it’s. I’m finding out there’s so many Black women, especially in your field, that I knew nothing about. Dr. Owens was born June 30th, 1933, in Miami, Florida, where I have relatives. Dr. Owens attended George Washington University, University of Michigan and Fisk. She was the first Black American woman to be awarded a geology Ph.D.. In addition to her degrees, degrees in fine art and guidance counseling. And although Dr. Owens was unable to scuba dove due to sickle cell anemia, traits she used previously collected specimens in the Smithsonian Institute to work on the classification system of button corals, mysterious corals known for their button like form, deep sea habitat and solitary lives. And so her work shed light on the evolutionary relationships and uncovered new species and a new genus. And so Dr. Owens died in May of 2011 in Washington, D.C.. So had you heard of Dr. Owens before?

Carlee Jackson [00:16:29] Yes, I had. So basically, like all of these names I know of, because I’ve had to do like Women’s History Month or Black History Month stuff on them. So I’m familiar with some of these. But, you know, the the names. I’m terrible with names. But, yeah, I do remember Dr. Owens. She had discovered a new species of coral. And I think that’s just so cool, especially for Black women to do back then.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:16:54] Yeah. And tell our audience a little bit more about Coral because what I, what I sort of remember from science class and then obviously when I go snorkeling, it’s like, don’t touch the coral. Coral is really important for our ecosystem. It’ll burn you if you touch it. It’s really precious. That’s pretty much where my knowledge begins and ends. What else should we know about Coral and the work of Dr. Owens?

Carlee Jackson [00:17:15] Yes. So the first thing about coral is that they are an animal and not a plant. So a lot of people think corals are plants because they just sit there and don’t do much, but they’re actually made up of tiny animals. So they have a skeleton that’s made of like calcium carbonate. And then in the skeleton, they’re little polyps. So that’s what basically the whole coral is made up the skeleton, and then a polyps which are like kind of little think of microscopic jellyfish. So tiny little like upside down jellyfish living in the coral that gets food for the coral. And then also with these little polyps are algae. So they’re specifically called zooxanthellae and that’s getting real technical, but basically they photosynthesize and that’s how they give the coral its food. So basically coral is just made up of a bunch of different colonies of animal and you know, like they reproduce and everything. And there’s all different types of weird looking coral, beautiful coral. But yeah, and yeah, like you were saying, corals are very sensitive to environmental stuff. So when conditions aren’t right in the water, then those little algae that live on the coral, they’ll leave the coral. And that’s how you get that white bleaching. 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:18:39] And so in there’s so many areas where coral is dying and, you know, and we see it’s white and it’s no longer all these beautiful colors. What what’s your favorite place to sort of observe coral? Like if we were all going to go on a vacation together is like, you know, a Grio podcast Blackest  Questions fieldtrip. Where should we go and check it out?

Carlee Jackson [00:19:02] We should definitely go to Belize. So far, that’s been the place that I’ve been to have had the most pristine, beautiful coral reefs I’ve ever seen.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:19:13] Now, Placentia Caye Caulker, where.

Carlee Jackson [00:19:15] Caye Caulker. So that’s where I did my research. I mean, I’m sure anywhere along the Belize Barrier Reef, which is part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which is the second largest barrier reef in the world, dropping some facts on yall. And also kind of sad, but also kind of I don’t know how this is, but it is the largest living barrier reef right now in the world. So the Great Barrier Reef, unfortunately, is dying. So that means it doesn’t like make new coral colonies, but this one is still building parts of it is still building the reef. So it’s the largest living barrier reef. But yeah, it is beautiful, pristine.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:19:56] Shout out to our Belizean listeners. I was just in Belize in December. And I was too busy putting on, you know, SPF number four and drinking daiquiris. I should have gone snorkeling and paid attention. Now, can you see it snorkeling or do you have to go scuba diving?

Carlee Jackson [00:20:09] Oh you can go snorkeling. Like I when I was there, I was there for two months for my research and we were snorkeling in like five feet of water. And there’s just the water was clear, like hundred feet plus visibility. And the corals are just beautiful. You don’t need to dive. You can snorkel.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:20:29] Okay. All right. Well, I’m going to have to put, I Belize, back on my list since I didn’t see any coral last time I was there. Okay. You ready for number four?

Carlee Jackson [00:20:39] Let’s do it.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:20:41] Let’s dive right in.

Carlee Jackson [00:20:43] I love that.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:20:44] I do like to. Oh, I.

Carlee Jackson [00:20:45] Look at the ocean patterns.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:20:48] So this deadly riot in 1967 resulted in the deaths of 43 people, including thirty three African-Americans and ten whites. In what city did this take place?

Carlee Jackson [00:21:01] Oh, 19. Which what? 1967.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:21:05] 1967. And there’s a hint. It’s a city that you know well.

Carlee Jackson [00:21:11] Oh, was it in Detroit?

Dr. Christina Greer [00:21:13] It was Detroit, the Detroit riot of 1967. It’s considered one of the catalysts of the militant Black power movement. So the immediate cause of the riot was a police raid and illegal after hours drinking club and the sight of a welcome home party for two returning Vietnam War veterans. And the police arrested all patrons in attendance, including 82 African-Americans and local residents who witnessed the raid protested and several of them looted and burned less properties and started fires because of the frustration. So I don’t always call things riots, I call them rebellions. So during the next several days, more than 9000 members of the U.S. National Guard were deployed by Michigan Governor George Romney, father of Mitt Romney. For those of you who don’t know, along with 800 Michigan State Police on the second day of the riot, President Lyndon Johnson sent U.S. Army troops to the city to help quell the violence. Shout out to LBJ in this case. Not a good guy, but in most cases, my favorite president. The deeper causes of the riot were high levels of frustration, resentment and anger that had been created among African-Americans by unemployment and underemployment, persistent and extreme poverty, racism and racial segregation, police brutality and lack of economic and education opportunities. That’s why I don’t call them riots. I call them rebellions. And then this rebellion accelerated deindustrialization and the exodus of whites from the city of Detroit. And many buildings that were damaged or destroyed were never rebuilt. And so this is where we are with the city of Detroit. So I know that Detroit is your place of birth until you moved to Florida for school. But had you heard of the 1967 riot?

Carlee Jackson [00:22:50] The Detroit riots. Yeah, I’ve definitely heard of them. And so that was kind of the start of the kind of downward trend of Detroit. You know, it was pretty rundown and not a lot of money in the city and it just definitely just got real rundown. And but I will say that it is, I would say probably America’s biggest comeback city, because that places they’ve definitely made a big turnaround. They definitely gentrified it a little bit. But it is still it’s they’ve it’s beautiful. There’s like a whole river walk down there. Like I go downtown when I visit a lot and a lot of my friends hang out down there. So it’s it’s a city on the rise, but it definitely has a lot of history. Definitely a lot of history.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:23:42] Well, I’m an urbanist and so I study cities and I’m fascinated with places like Detroit, you know, places where Black folks migrated from the south, you know, not just we always think of it as the pull of jobs and opportunity when Detroit was like the height of, you know, factories and making cars and you can have a good job, a good union job, you could buy a house, but also like the push pull factors of like fleeing domestic terrorism from the south as well. And so when I moved to outside of Chicago for high school and so I spent a lot of time in these Midwestern cities, and I would always tell my parents, look, these people are so country, right? And it’s like, well, they’re from the U.S. South Girl letting you know their parents and grandparents are from Mississippi and Alabama and Florida. So, of course. But I love Detroit and I do I love the fact that you say it’s like it is a city on the rise, as are so many cities, Blacks, you know, historically Black cities that have been disinvested. And now we’re seeing reinvestment. And in a lot of cities, it’s Black Americans and also Black immigrants who are helping to rebuild and kind of restructure the way we view these cities. So in 2020, though, the the Black Lives Matter protests reignited conversations about race and, you know, what was going on in these urban centers. And it resulted in you and your colleagues Founding MISS The Minorities in Shark Sciences Research. Can you tell us a little bit more about that and how that came about?

Carlee Jackson [00:25:05] Yes, for sure. It’s one of my favorite things to talk about when that the whole George Floyd incident was happening in the summer of 2020. There was another incident. If you can remember Chris Cooper. He was a Black man, you know, birding in New York and had the white lady call the cops on him because apparently he was being aggressive, telling her her dog was off the leash. That wasn’t allowed.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:25:31] Which is illegal in New York.

Carlee Jackson [00:25:32] Exactly.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:25:33] As a New Yorker. Yep.

Carlee Jackson [00:25:35] But yeah. So when that happened, the whole movement started on Twitter with a lot of Black scientists and a Black naturalist. So they started a hashtag called hashtag Black in Nature. And basically it was to break the stereotype of Black people don’t like to be outside. So basically I posted pictures of myself doing like shark and sea turtle work with the hashtag Black in Nature. And from that hashtag, I actually got like a lot of like following and like likes and a lot of views. And Jasmine, the MISS CEO, she had commented on it and was like, oh, my gosh, like a Black girl in shark science. And I was like, What? Your Black girl is shark science. You know that like Spiderman meme, they’re just like, Yes, that’s literally how it was. And I was like, because at that moment, I had never met another Black girl in Shark Science. I’d never seen another Black girl. I didn’t know they existed. I thought I was the only one.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:26:30] You were basically Cellie and Netty running through the purple fields at the end of The Color Purple.

Carlee Jackson [00:26:33] Yes. Pretty much. Okay. But yeah. So Jasmine and then Amani and Jada eventually got in on that thread to their the other two co-founders. But yeah, we got in a group chat. We jokingly were like, how we should start a club? And then we all got on Zoom and we just felt like we had to do something. Since all four of us had found each other and had never seen another Black woman in the field, we were just like, We got to change this. So we decided to literally two weeks later after we met is when we launched. We have to figure out a name, a logo, all that. But that’s when we launched Minorities and Shark Sciences, and we basically wanted to create something that made shark science more accessible field and also create a community and like safe space of all gender, minorities of color that were interested in shark science or already in shark science, because a lot of us were in shark science, but like we weren’t, you know, our research wasn’t being presented and things like shark shows were not representing us accurately or at all, really at all literally, like Shark Week, things like that. It was very white male dominated. So that’s really why we created MISS and, you know, we are trying to make it a lot more accessible and I think we’re doing a good job so far.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:27:59] I love this. I love Black girls coming together. Well, this segways perfectly into my last question for you, which is question number five. This spring event ran from May 31st through June 5th in 2022 to highlight Black nature enthusiasts and the happiness found in this outdoor activity. What is it.

Carlee Jackson [00:28:18] The is it when you said March 31st through.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:28:22] May 30.

Carlee Jackson [00:28:23] May 31st. Oh, what was it you mentioned? Oh, the Black in nature thing.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:28:33] Very close. I think we can give you half a fist. It was  Black Birders Week.

Carlee Jackson [00:28:35] Black Birders Week okay I’m like it was something week.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:28:38] Yes it was our Black Birders Week which I take a part in. So Black Birders is Week is a weeklong series of online events to highlight Black nature enthusiasts and to increase the visibility of Black birders who face unique challenges and dangers when engaging in outdoor activities. The event was created as a response to Central Park Birdwatching Incident Police brutality against Black Americans. Christian Cooper obviously was one of the catalytic events, and the inaugural event ran from May 31st to June 5th in 2020. And so you like to go into the ocean? I like to look up at the sky because I’m a birder. I’m a Black birder and got really into it during isolation, during lockdown and COVID. And so do you participate in Black Birders Week, even though you’re a marine scientist?

Carlee Jackson [00:29:24] So I will say I never particpated in Blackbirds Week, but I do. I like to I’m like a half of a birder. I like like the what is it called? Like the waiting birds here in Florida. And the I can identify a lot of the birds here in Florida, but we did start a Black and marine science week. And that was a that was a really fun week. We started that in 2020.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:29:51] And then when when does that normally take place?

Carlee Jackson [00:29:54] That’s usually in like November or December, end of November. But yeah, so that was a really cool. That was the week that I hope I helped plan that week and then I participated in last year. And I’m sure there’s going to be one every year now.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:30:09] Now, before we go to The Lightning Round, I do want to ask you something, because, you know, as we pay attention to more what’s going on in our marine life, it seems and correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems as though there are more shark sightings. Is that indeed the case or are we just sort of making a tempest in a teapot or are sharks actually coming closer to the shore because of warmer waters and, you know, environmental sort of collapses in places across the world?

Carlee Jackson [00:30:38] Yeah. So there’s a number of different factors going into why we might be seeing more sharks. So the first one is that more people are getting in the water. So we’re just growing as a population. So as more people get into the water, you have a higher probability of encountering or having an interaction with sharks. And like I, I tell everyone, I’m like sharks live in the ocean. So when you go into the ocean, they won’t be there because imagine a shark coming out of the water and being like, oh, I hope I don’t see any humans today. Like that’t not going to happen. Exactly. So it’s human infested waters. And basically, yeah. So more people are getting the water, they’re seeing more sharks. And specifically in like the northeastern United States, they’re seeing a lot more great white shark sightings. And that’s because they’re seeing a comeback in the seal population. So seals are, you know, a main prey source for great whites. And since the seal conservation is paying off the white sharks, they’re coming in and they’re like, ooh, there’s more food for us. So we’re going to come here and eat all the seals. So so yeah. So there’s a healthy population of seals in that area. And so now you’re going to get a healthy population of sharks trying to come and eat their food. So the sharks always go where the food is. And also like especially with the great white sharks, like back in 1975 when Jaws came out, there was a lot of shark culling. So when you go out and just kill sharks, just go out there and kill them because people are scared of them. But since conservation started about a decade or so ago, we’ve been seeing the increase in those white shark populations. So. So, yeah, these are all good things, I think.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:32:33] Yeah, they’re all good things in that, you know, you want to be out in the water too far out there. I mean, in New York, you know, right now we’re sort of on lockdown just because we’ve got a lot of shark sightings. And so but my my thought is always like, well, I’m going to their house. So I actually have to respect the fact that they’re out and about. And I need to I need to focus out. Okay, so before I let you out of here, Carlee, are you ready for the Black Lightning Round?

Carlee Jackson [00:32:59] I guess.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:00] Yes, we’ll see. Oh, these are. There are no right answers.

Carlee Jackson [00:33:03] Oh, okay. I like that 

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:04]  This is just lightning round. So it’s either one or the other. Oh, okay. You ready?

Carlee Jackson [00:33:09] Ready? I’m ready.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:10] Okay. When you’re working out, do you listen to hip hop or Afrobeat?

Carlee Jackson [00:33:15] Hip hop.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:15] Cash Doll or Trina?

Carlee Jackson [00:33:17] Cash Doll

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:19] Best standup comedian Dave Chappelle or Kevin Hart.

Carlee Jackson [00:33:22] Dave Chappelle.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:24] Insecure. Living Single.

Carlee Jackson [00:33:27] Insecure.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:29] On Thanksgiving. Are we eating cornbread or biscuits?

Carlee Jackson [00:33:31] Cornbread.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:34] Favorite shark.

Carlee Jackson [00:33:34] Nurse shark.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:37] Sharks Or turtles?

Carlee Jackson [00:33:38] Sharks?

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:39] Okay, that’s it.

Carlee Jackson [00:33:41] Oh, I like that one.

Dr. Christina Greer [00:33:44] See these are nice and easy. I want to thank you so much for joining. And I want to remind our listeners to check out Carlee Jackson’s Jaws Invasion on Disney Plus. Check out her book as well. I want to thank you for listening to the Blackest Questions. This show is produced by Alikahh Shedrick, Cameron Blackwell and Camille Cruz. If you like what you heard, please download the app and listen to the podcast, the Blackest Questions and watch many more great shows and share it with everyone you know.

[00:34:11] Don’t forget, you can listen to the Grio’s Writing Black Podcast hosted by me Mayisha Kai. This isn’t your typical writing podcast. We interview any and everybody that has anything to do with writing from comics to poets to authors to journalists, to politicians and more. Remember, that’s Writing Black every Sunday, right here on the Grio’s Black Podcast Network, download the Grio’s app to listen to Writing Black wherever you are.