Baby Grad Student

Graduate School

Source: madamenoire.com

Oh, boy! I started a graduate program over the summer, and have already been confronted with a surprising lack of diversity within the school and field. I say surprising because apparently the school (and a large professional association with significant influence on the field) have been working on diversity for some time now. OR is it that they’ve been talking about it for a long time?

Which brings me to the point of this post on academia. Don’t get me wrong, I feel like I’ve changed a lot of personal karma by returning to school at my age. That being said, higher education is all about talking, and not much about doing even when it comes to DOING within the culture of the school. We are encouraged to write papers, and have discussions about the lack of diversity. If someone can explain that to me, please do. Moreover, the professional association has documented a 1% increase in diversity in the field between the years 2000 and 2010. 1%!!! And it seemed as if they were proud to report this “increase.”

From undergrad to graduate school, education gets a big #RACEFAIL from me. I think that is the reason why a college degree was the furthest thing from my mind in my 20s and 30s. I had been so burned by elementary and high school education that I never dreamed of making it through higher education. But my dad was a big time academic–he passed away when I was young–but I’ve always felt his spirit nudging me toward school.

The trouble with people of color in education is the knowledge that one is not getting what one needs. Not only is the education part difficult, but often teachers/professors withhold information–and people of color KNOW that they are withholding information.  You are a very fortunate student if you luck up on a mentor that is willing to give you the ins and outs of making it through school. And that is one of myriad reasons why kids of color get angry and drop out. Also, it’s really frustrating when one doesn’t see themselves in the curriculum. That is, I didn’t truly begin to learn history, e.g. have a serious conversation about American slavery, until I entered college (THANK YOU, ERIC FONER!!)

Anyway, I have another two years of guessing what my professors want, jumping through hoops and being generally uncomfortable. Fortunately, I found this website (see link below.). The post was truly sad to me, but it was proof that I am not losing my mind, and the professor seems like she is an ally.

I have a book review (I’ve never done one of these before) and a research paper I should be working on. So let me get to it.

Can you relate? What have things been like for you in school? I’d like to hear from anybody who would like to respond.

http://theprofessorisin.com/2011/08/09/challenges-for-graduate-students-of-color-in-the-academy/

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