Newly Minted

Newly Minted
Right after I was hooded

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Are we joking right now?

I went to a seminar today, not at Binghamton University I must add. I was very excited about the topic - Obama. I am a bit of a fanatic, I am not going to lie. But, that is another blog. So I sit down excited to hear a non-critical race studies or politics of race take on Obama. I got one. So the speech itself was odd, I left with the lyrics "how bizarre, how bizarre" ringing in my head. It was this surreal combination of passion and ignorance wrapped in to a neat little professorial ball. I thought about walking out but I was riveted to my seat breathlessly waiting to see if it could get worse, and it did. After complaining that he, the speaker, couldn't get time to speak because of "that black history month" and then "they had to have women's month (I think that is women's history month, but whose paying attention)", he went on to talk about things loosely related (IMHO) to media and race. At one point he likened the way media handles ratings and advertising to slavery... He pointed out that until Obama spoke he was just another black guy who could shoot a ball into a hoop. Apparently, for the speaker, all Midwesterners are tall and white. I could fill this space today with these examples, I will refrain. Suffice it to say this was the way the whole hour went. At one point I wrote in my notes that I had no clue what the topic was and I wanted to go home. What I left with was this...simple black and white is complicated. The speaker also told us that Obama's seat in the white house is proof that America has conquered our obsession with race. I would suggest that his speech was proof to the contrary. I could dismiss all of this, if it had not been for this comment (loosely related): "There is only black and white. Yeah, we make noise about yellow, and red and this mixed race stuff... You know, some people write papers to get tenure or promotions, they write some mixed race "stuff" but it comes down to black and white" Yikes, my dissertation, life study, and identity dismissed in one lame uninformed statement. I beg to disagree, but I won't waste my energy disagreeing with that level of insensitivity. Instead, I will share it with you.

In closing, I have to say, the most profound or rather profane, part of this talk was that the speaker was a person of color. I realized that I need to re-evaluate my level of expectations as I enter academia. I have to accept that my peers still will find my research "lame stuff" that I am only producing to get a promotion. I also have to learn how to process and reconcile these views - scholarly product - that denounce and diminishe what I have chosen to do with my scholarship. The whole experience made me sad and tired. I don't think I will be going to anymore Obama speeches any time soon.

More soon...

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