Academe Through the Eyes of a WoC

her_black_wings_by_melissasigalovskaya-476-x-550I recently read a piece over at Kiita’s that said so very much about how women of color experience a pre-K to grad school fast-track in academe with so very little verbage. (I obviously did not write it. huh?) It seems to me that we have two places in academia: 1. throw aways and 2. the special case. Kiita’s outline of the “special case” rang so true to me b/c it is so recognizable.  At the end of it, she also does one of the bravest things anyone of us “special cases” can do, which is to put our wholeness above a lifetime of expectations and hard work, above the promises, ahead of the disappointments and the talk, to believe in the promise of the life society does not condone and our peers have all rejected. The lack of lyricism in a post by someone who is so often lyrical is its own piece of the story. Go read it. I expect that many of you will miss the beauty in it but some of you, you “special case(s)” will know exactly why it is spectacular.

PS. I get a lot of grads of color in my office asking “what is the point?!” disheartened by the latest bout of othering that is hard to fight inimage academic settings, to my colleague’s horror, I tell them all the same thing “Sit down. Breathe. Now ask yourself what you want out of life and who you want to be. Don’t answer me yet. Wait. write it down on this piece of paper and seal it in. Tomorrow, if you are brave enough to re-open it, bring it back and we will talk again.” And after they write it down, seal it tight, I tell them, “Remember, the anxiety you feel now will always be part of it if you stay.” (I’ve never had anyone quit yet, but I have also never had anyone resent me for lying to them about the oasis that waits on the other side of tenure.)


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