It has been a really long time since I blogged. Three months, I believe. I have written with my friend Lisa on as many Mondays as we can manage to line up our schedules. We started this the moment we went on lockdown and somehow have managed to sustain this new normal for almost 6 months, give or take. Some Mondays we check in and have to end up moving it to another night, but no matter what we end up doing the past 6 months have taught me that there are people I can check in with regularly. Too bad we had 8 years go by before we came to the realization to use this technology to our advantage. We spent these 8 years sneaking in visits (2 to be exact) and mostly lamenting that we lived so far apart. Better late than never though. This is another good thing that came out of the pandemic that prevents me from writing it off completely.
So in a way I have been writing, but mostly journaling every time I keep company with Lisa, although most of my journal is focused on self reproach, negative talk back and even disgust at times. My weight gain, my inability to write, my frustration at the America we live in currently, my helplessness and hopelessness as I watch yet another Black sibling get murdered and justice denied, my nervousness if we should take a turn for the worse after elections, and finally my inability to save what little pay I get. It seems every time I hit the pages, I am met with the same record. It makes me scared to write because a part of me believes the idea that you create your reality. So I think if I keep writing the same thing, it will become my reality. But then a part of me thinks, I am writing my truth so maybe it’s not a self-fulfilling prophecy after all. IDK!
I haven’t written much publicly though because work took on a new note after I returned from vacationing in Ohio where my last post was written. I went from being an associate director in a back office dealing with diversity to being asked to serve as co-chair of the Racial Justice Committee that was just being birthed in mid June in response to student, faculty, staff, and alumni hurt, anger, and distress. My current institution decided to respond by putting this committee in place to begin to address some of the concerns. It’s been hectic, to understate the truth. I’ve been battling all sorts of demons after agreeing to step up to the challenge, from my own imposter syndrome to actual people demons. I have looked at it as my form of activism though so that keeps me going. If I can’t march, don’t believe in writing letters, or running for office, then I can take this servant leadership position and work on holding accountable an institution that was built with social justice in its bricks but is struggling to live it out. Just as I mentioned that I move to remote villages with 99.9% WP to make sure the Black students who choose to attend college there will see me and know it is possible to make it out alive, I also take up this mantle of racial justice and transparency and accountability so maybe eventually one PWI can finally live up to its promises to BIPOC. I have learned things that have been disturbing and I have been attacked in the most vicious way by a Brown woman egged on by a Black man. People I considered to be in the struggle together. I have had the N word hurled at a student of mine and I have felt powerless to do anything about it. I don’t see myself as a martyr for taking this on, rather I feel encouraged and truly hopeful that my institution can rebuild the many broken bridges leading to the souls of Black folx who have graced their threshold.
Oftentimes when I take on a role, I worry about writing because I don’t want to air dirty laundry because it feels like once I sign a contract, I must protect the image of the institution, especially when I find out my students are following my blog. However, what I have felt is silenced and muzzled when I have not written, and as such I have decided to write about my experiences, without being slanderous, critical yes, without revealing too much, but I have decided to write because I choose that avenue to hiding behind past histories and hurts. I choose to shed light on what we do well and what we struggle with as it pertains to my experiences. I think there is always a point at which I take a job, I give it my all, and then realize I was sold a non-existent dream. This time, I waited a year to see how the dream would unfold. I’ve been here a couple weeks shy of a year and so far I’ve loved most of it, hence my attachment to making it live up to its mission. So far it’s been a rewarding experience serving as co-chair in addition to my regular roster of duties and I have felt true hopefulness at getting my institution ahead of that ever moving target of antiracism, until I encountered this bitter Brown woman who I originally thought was on the same side.
I believe she thought she’d put me in my place and I’d slink off into a corner and nurse my wounds. Unfortunately she, and the one who egged her on, picked the wrong Black woman. Not today Brown girl! I believe in utter transparency. If you have known me through my blog the past 10 years, you know I am as honest as they come and I am also equally kind, but I don’t suffer people who are simply unkind because they believe that everyone must climb the ladder and only speak when spoken to if they are not on the same rung as them. And y’all she did this on the day I learned Breoanna’s killers went free! Her dismissal and shut down came on the heels of America spitting in our faces yet again. I have decided to talk about the betrayal of this Brown woman, because often, Black women save face by buying into the hush culture. Black women are tired. We will not be hushed when we are dismissed or belittled.
In any case, I have had to review my interactions with folks to assess where my real energy should go as I continue to do this racial justice work. It is a journey from which we cannot take reprieve (I’ll address self-care next time), because each day another Black life is disrespected, is one day more than necessary.