Newly Minted

Newly Minted
Right after I was hooded

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Cyborgs, Mixed-Race Bodies, and Passing...Oh My!

Reinvigoration comes from the most random places. I was talking to a keynote speaker that I am engaging for our student mini-conference in March. The conference focus is diversity, equity and social justice; our theme is imagining communities without walls. Our keynote is an esteemed scholar in Rochester; a woman of color, who captivated my students and I at a symposium she held with her students last fall. During the symposium, which was this amazing room full of women of color - academics, lawyers, doctors; I remember thinking this woman had changed my life. First, I had never been in a room full of brown women who were both successful AND welcoming. Second, she was just dynamic and engaging. When I approached her after her talk and told her how she had impacted me, because I am impulsive like that, she hugged me and welcomed me into her community. By the time I left she had given me her personal and professional contact information and offered her time and experience as I moved through my PhD journey. I felt blessed and tucked the information away. I felt I could never tell this black feminist scholar that I studied mixed race.

So... yesterday we were talking about the conference and she was letting me know that because of the immediate connection she had felt with myself and my students, she was doing our conference when she really didn't have time. She went on to tell me that she was teaching three NEW courses, something I would do to myself, and started to tell me about them. All of a sudden...WHAM (I have no better way to articulate the sensation I experienced in this moment) she is talking about mixed race. (Happy Dance by the Mixed Race Professor)

Save the fact that I became a babbling idiot, as I am want to do in the shadow of greatness, I was blown away. My own assumptions get me in trouble often; my assumption about black feminist scholars may be causing me more than trouble. My assumption that all black feminst scholars, save the few who have actually verbally attacked me in public places, reject mixed race identity is keeping me from engaging other academics and scholarship. My gift, the revelation and the validation of what I believed when I began this journey is that there is a community of scholars that not only believe in mixed race they are studying and teaching it. Our conversation continued as this amazing scholar graciously started giving me resources and pointed me toward other scholars doing this work. Then, she asked me for resources and suggestions for the teaching of her new class. This kind of peer acknowledgment always makes me incredibly giddy (and I became less and less able to communicate because of it) but I was able to fumble through the exchange.

I was up at 1:50 am this morning thinking about my dissertation. I won't admit to anyone how long it has been since I thought about my dissertation (or worked on it) but I am on fire. It is 4:37 am and I have been researching the possibilities she shared as well as a healthy jstor search for new articles. Thank you to the powers that oversee lost PhD candidates, I think I may be headed in a good direction.

More soon...