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I live within power relationships every day:
As I walk alone I see the heterosexual cis-white couples holding hands, aimlessly watching the rabbits go by.
As I work, I can feel the judgement of my steps by my authorities and feel the isolation of being the only woman.
As I sit in the classroom, I see the teaching style of the professor perfectly designed for understanding to the white male brain.
Do you catch a pattern here?
There are some places, laws, and policies that intentionally block a woman like me, from feeling comfort and ease. Our norms generally give control to white males or females, and leave the black female to be the anomaly. In educational institutions for instance we live in silos. When the place that you inhabit was not designed with you in mind, there is a constant tension between proving that you belong, and forcing yourself into a spaces of power without the proper training or support. Being a black student at a PWI university, you see the stark contrast of employees of color, especially within the STEM faculties. In this, there is a connection that is missing from the top-down from the types of professionals that continue to be hired, and the ones that are put in the place of those who are pushed out. (Ex: By means of retirement or losing their job positions.) Our authority is almost always male majority, controlled, and this has the power to shift the energy of the environment, the culture, the way that faculty and student behave. When we get rid of women faculty in power, or shift to an unbalance where the "men" are the majority, this creates an absence of understanding for all students.
Let me tell you some truths:
- The lack of assessable spaces of academia for all students to self-evolve, creates an exhaustive climb for students of color to create these spaces, and attempt to have the same "playing field" that non-students of color have had in place from the beginning.
- Educational Institutions have and will always be political spaces in America. We have seen from HBCU's to Ivy League schools become the center of political marches, and awakening of young people fighting the power dynamics within its own institutions and in response to the "government" for decades and decades.
- For white students: Amnesia or Ignoring the truths that everything is thought with your comfort, concern, teaching style, success in mind, should be something that you all are questioning, and that you should feel compelled to fight against for people that were not given the same privilege.
I am proof of the struggle that it takes to "come out on top" at an Institution that is very careless about the specific person over the money machine is virtually impossible. Black women are pushed out of specific majors at extremely disproportionate numbers, and that is IF we make it to higher levels of education. My advice would be that it is not ALL of your responsibility to change all of the flaws against the way that the system works, but you should not have to ignore it. Use your platform to talk about what is wrong, and never cease to end your message until change and action takes place. If you are a writer write, if you are a radio-broadcaster speak, if you are an athlete tell your team members and coach. I believe that students have a responsibility to question and change the old ways that do not serve all of us well.
I think we can get into power by hard-work, rest, and repeat until we get our opportunity to power ourselves, and not forget where we have been. I know that when I do finally get to be my own boss, have control about who I will mentor, or admit into a particular position, I will have my consciousness opened to those "anomaly" students and young people. Because it is not an easy task to get into the anomaly seat, it takes grit, some magical against all odds determination. To be that rare diamond takes hurt, it takes power, it takes time, practice, and pressure to do well, it takes mindful steps, and overcoming odds. I don't know how it feels to be given an "in". Everything that I have worked for academically I have won myself, even if it ended in losing it all.
Sometimes the greatest stories start when we feel that we have lost all that we thought defined us.
I just watched the movie The Matrix today and a quote that stood out is that, "if we deny our own impulses, we deny the very thing that makes us human." If ANYONE has an impulse to change the power dynamics in your institution, at your place of work, in your neighborhood, don't wait!
Make your truths known, and follow your own morals.
Much love to anyone that reads <3
Below are links to organizations that I believe are changing America for the better, I would recommend donating to them: