That’s what my spirit animal, Zora Neale Hurston, is quoted as saying: “All my skinfolk ain’t my kinfolk.”
My experiences in academe have been…a textbook case of everything that could happen would happen. That includes a rocky start in a different program and a transfer and yadda, yadda, yadda. Needless to say my experiences primed me for this article, “My journey in academia has been littered with life lessons” from Karen Flynn. In the post she discusses her travails in navigating the racial politics among black scholars:
This tenure process might have turned out differently had I stayed in the academic program where I was first hired. After moving from Toronto to the U.S. to teach, I remember the joy I felt going to work among people who looked like me, whose scholarship was cutting edge, and by all appearances shared the same politics. I had this belief that I could speak freely and challenge authority, if necessary, without being punished, but I was wrong. I learned that Black men and women, (more so the former than the latter) in positions of power can be as treacherous as the white people they profess to critique about their racism.
I’m full up on oversharing this week (month? year? lifetime?) but I have made no secret about my feelings on choosing mentors just because you share an ethnic identity. People are people all over the world. The key is finding good people who treat you like a person (as opposed, to say, a deficit model) who are willing to invest in you. That is all that should matter.
And that’s where I’ll leave that. LOL
Check out Karen Flynn’s full essay here.