As I sit here reflecting on a year (at this point it’s more like 15 months) of Blackademia, I still can’t believe how much Autumn and I have accomplished in such a short time span. Just two years ago, Autumn and I used to be on the phone venting to one another about some of our frustrations with work and the issues our colleagues were dealing with. I still remember when she was like we should write a blog about this and do a podcast and talk about all of these things because they are real and I feel like we don’t dialogue about this as a community. If we do, we do it in silos, and not together.
I was recently listening to a Ted talk by Dr. Victor Rios, professor, author and speaker, about helping kids the education system ignores. In his talk, Rios provides strategies we can use as educators to help our students, one of them being for us to stop grouping students as at-risk but instead see them as at-promise
A few months ago I read an article on Inside Higher Ed regarding students at Ptizer College who were looking for a roommate and requested that only other students of color inquire. Some of the students’ peers had an issue with this requirement and the whole scenario made me think about how people of color (POC), specifically underrepresented minorities, navigate predominately white institutions (PWI).
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.
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.
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. .