About a month ago I was having a conversation with a friend about this Trump-era we live in. I remember saying that out of all that’s happening right now, the thing that might scare me most is that DeVos has been extra quiet for a minute. She paused, and then agreed. Fast forward to about a week ago when DeVos reneged on President Obama’s guidelines for sexual assault on college campuses.
Four years ago when I graduated college I packed my bag (yes, singular), moved to Atlanta, and started teaching. I was convinced that I was somehow going to save the world, change the lives of all my babies, make fabulous new friends, and live the life of an Atlanta socialite in my spare time.
I couldn’t have been more wrong.
This post was not on our regularly scheduled program of topics. However, over the past couple of weeks, I’ve felt a pull deep down in my spirit to acknowledge my village (and when the Spirit moves, well…). It could be because I’m hitting that mid-semester wall and could really use the comfort of my bestie, a 1705 couch, and a glass of moscato (or chocolate wine). It might be that I spent time with my mom this weekend and she really helped put some things in perspective for me. Or it could be the fact that I haven’t been able to stop thinking about all of the things that are dangers to Black folks in America and how quickly I could lose any one of the people closest to me because of that. Whatever the case may be, I’ve felt compelled. So here it goes.
Most days I walk around academic spaces feeling like I'm wearing a mask. I’m not referring to my head wraps, my fro, or t-shirts I wear that display my pride in being Black (although I’ve been asked if those are costumes). I’m not even referring to the professional wear I don myself in when formally presenting (even though this feels much more like a costume than anything else I wear). Nope. I’m talking about the way in which I code switch each and every time I walk into an academic setting.
As an academic and person who genuinely cares about the research she does and the people it effects, there is nothing more infuriating than when a professor attempts to invalidate my research because of his or her ignorance and/or discomfort with the issues I choose to discuss.
There have been numerous incidents that I’ve sat in classrooms and stated my research interests (which center around all things Black kids and equity in k-12 education) and have then either watched the professor's face deflate or listened to them try to explain why that interest would be particularly challenging to pursue. -_-
I’m sure that by now it is news to none of us that another unarmed Black man and a protester were killed by police officers this week. If you are anything like me, you were the farthest thing from numb when you heard the news. This week my heart bled. There were several moments where I turned to loved ones with tears in my eyes and declared, “I just can’t anymore.” But the truth is I can. I must - or at least that’s what I’ve been told.
Last week we discussed the cringe in our stomachs, the anxiety we suffer, and the feelings of loneliness that many of us experience as a result of tokenism. But for just a second, I want you think about the other side of the coin:
Imagine walking into your orientation, class, or job on day one and seeing folks who represent every color in the rainbow. You see your Black brothers and sisters and your Latinx cousins. You notice some Asian and Middle Eastern friends. You might even hear different languages. It’s beautiful. It’s the educational experience you’ve always hoped for. You sit back in your seat and breathe a little sigh of relief because you know this time it’ll be different. This time, you won’t be a token; you’ll be in one of many. Your voice will be heard and ya’ll might even be out here singin’ kumbaya.
My very first doctoral class will begin in exactly 17 days, 22 hours, and 42 minutes from when I am writing this.
By the time I walk through the doors of that class, I will have gone through all of the following motions:
Now that we've given you some solid advice about graduate school and an opportunity to preorder your t shirt, we thought it might be a good time to introduce our blog and ourselves.
Blackademia was birthed by Tiffany and Autumn after several unplanned conversations that seemed to revolve around the issues we face as Black women in academia.
Our hope is that this blog will be an informal space to address the experiences of people of color in academic spaces, share the things that keep us motivated on this journey, and celebrate the work and accomplishments of academics of color.
Blackademia the blog
Two Black women navigating the world of academia. Read about how Tiffany & Autumn discuss (and bring levity to) issues of education (both secondary and higher) in America. .