Race-conscious inquiry and talking about race is uncomfortable for many because we have been socialized to avoid meaningful discussions about race, but we must persist through the discomfort. Emotions run deep and high when conversations about race emerge, but those conversations are valuable and important. Brave spaces, where the work around institutional change takes place, are needed.
Planning and nearly seamlessly executing the transition of our respective academic areas to be accessible remotely, nurturing interpersonal relationships, “crisis schooling” our children, meal planning, meal prepping, meal execution, prioritizing exercise, while adhering to a stay-at-home order, in the midst of an uprising for the attainment of justice for Black lives – Black women, we made it look easy.
Deconstructing Collegiality and Constructing Courageous Conversations in California Community Colleges
On Thursday June 18, 2020, I attended the ASCCC Faculty Leadership Institute for the first time. I am grateful for the opportunity, and I learned so much from all of the sessions. In one particularly impactful session titled “Creating and Leveraging Collegiality for Leadership Effectiveness,” I became very engaged in the topic and in the chat. It was so impactful to be seeing a presentation on such an important topic, while at the same time I was witnessing some of the things that the presenters were describing happening in the live chat.
The counselor at an inner-city middle school tells an 8th grade girl that she will become an unwed teenage mother and dropout.
A high school teacher only encourages the girl to apply for scholarships to 2-year colleges, because 4-year schools were just too hard to get into.
My great grandfather took a train ride north from his plantation in Texas to Indiana. His son, my grandfather, had the same passion to take trains and would become an engineer and a licensed Sears carpenter. My mother, one of ten children and the only daughter, was told by her father that she had two options: become a teacher or become a nurse. At 16 years old, she went to Indiana State University to study Latin, and she would spend her life as a high school Latin teacher. She pushed me to be perfect.
The African American Male Education Network and Development (A2MEND) organization is a non-profit organization comprised of African American male educators who utilize their scholarly and professional expertise to foster institutional change throughout the educational system—for the sole purpose of augmenting success rates for African American males.
Recently, a group of Orange County residents showed up at a meeting of the county board of supervisors furious because of an order that requires them all to wear masks. While the exact reason for their resistance in the middle of a pandemic is unclear, perhaps they feel that masks conceal who they really are and even violates their freedoms. I could not help but recognize the irony. I, and many others like me in America, are forced to wear a mask that says Black man. A mask adorned with suspicion, stereotypes, injustice, and disrespect.
There are few sayings that make most people shake their heads (often in disgust), like the phrase “find your passion.” For many, pursuing passion means sacrificing your livelihood. For instructors though, we are part of the few who can proudly say, I have found my passion. Whether we are teaching English, Women’s Studies, or Accounting. We love what we do, and we love sharing our expertise with others.
The last thing my father told me before I left for college was, “Don’t forget about the Black man.”
I then stepped off our front porch and walked straight into the intellectual lion’s den.
No amount of scholarships could have prepared me for the type of education I would undergo.
I was thankful to be raised in an environment that taught me how to be politically gangsta.
My mother said, use your words.
My father said, don’t hit first.
Both of them believed in standing your ground.
(The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges held its first Curriculum Institute in July of 1999. 20 years later, the institute has since grown to become an annual event with over 500 attendees. The following article, originally published in the October 1999 issue of the Rostrum, is offered to commemorate that first institute that started the tradition.)