I have a love-hate relationship with academia, especially with people of color academics. On the one hand, we need our people in the academy so we could challenge its inherent ethnocentric discourses and hierarchies. We must challenge it not just for the sake of inclusivity, but to build radical…
Being a person of Color (especially from a working class background) can be a point of tension internally and externally when in the academy. There’s a particular emotion management and mental health component you must continuously monitor when you’re operating within the Ivory Tower. You must check in with yourself. You must stop for a minute between grading, writing, revising, etc. and ask “Am I ok?” If not, that’s the point to stop everything, take a break, and engage in self-care.
The Ivory Tower doesn’t value all cultural capital the same - meaning, the ways of knowing/ being, the values and norms, etc that have been passed down to us in our families and communities are not always understood in these spaces. They’re
never really not always legitimated.
What do you do when you value the culture of your community but it seems the academy values your community insofar as they receive a direct benefit from it through the factors already named in the original post?
There can be a daily task of codeswitching.
Codeswitching can be resistance.
Style of dress as resistance.
Assertion of accents, dialects, language in these spaces as resistance.
On an insider-outsider tight rope.
However, there have always been people of Color in Higher Education who valued activism and advocating for their communities: WEB DuBois, Pedro Albizu Campos, Kenneth & Mamie Clark, etc ….
It’s in the legacy of our ancestors and desire to create a more radical and inclusive system that we keep going…
The above is about negotiating academia as a person of colour, but the section I bolded could just as easily describe my working life in England.