I hear you, and you are not alone. I know what it feels like to step into academe, to face students and faculty who don’t look like you and give you the vibe of “unwantedness.” (Sorry grammarly, I am not going to change this word because yes, I am saying unWANTEDness. We are sometimes not wanted.
What we know and what some of them know may seem worlds apart.
Many of the institutions that we work in, were not built for us. They were made for them, and perhaps for us to clean, to feel like a timid guest in them, but not like we could ever call it our home.
Knowledge knows no limitation. There is no way for a sexist, racist, classist, white supremacist, fascist, or any other “ist” that can wrestle the knees of knowledge to the ground. They have tried and knowledge, all forms of it, the kind that you bring into it, changes the molecular structure, it alters the educational DNA.
We write as scholars of color, and we sing songs when the pain is to great to bear. We write even though the words first come out in scrambles, and we may trip over our words during our lectures, and feel great fear when facing the eyes with oppositional gazes. We research topics that make some of them cringe. We don’t fit in, and fitting in only lasts for a short while anyway.
My work has no tenure, no promotion, it is homage to the pain and determination of my ancestors. It situates itself in a broader framework of freedom, my work claims a space of power in the face of oppression.
It stands on the breath of my enslaved ancestors, on my brothers and sisters who are native Americans whose land was stolen in day light. It carries the arm of my Japanese sister who watched as her family was interned, thrown behind bars because of national fears. It lifts the voice of my Latina and Latino whose language I may not speak but I honor their rights to belong and share in American Citizenship. It lifts the hearts of transwomen of color whose lives are tortured, forgotten, and those who are fighting for gender freedoms. It holds a space for invisible and visible disabilities and those whose life is cut short by illness, those who stand with you and me.
My work stands with all of those who feel not included by the callousness and judgment that may be in the harshness of the academic hallways, classrooms, and meeting spaces.
Knowledge in all its form can know no limitation.
I stand with you as a witness to the traumas, in my own experience as a feminist, artist, scholar, and human.
Many of us have been battered and bruised, but we chip away each day with all of the tools we have in front of us.
On somedays all I have is rage, tears of loneliness, and on other days, I celebrate how far we have come as a people.
You are not alone.
Being a scholar of color is hard, confronting sexism, racism, misogyny, violence, and invisibility, especially in the wretched treachery that comes with pockets of White supremacy.
I know these dark spaces and although it may feel that you are alone–there are spirits with you. Feel them, know them, let them in.
And know this too–your heart, soul, and teaching matters, the holes matter–some of them our generational, leftovers of what happened to our people.