For now, I'm going to call this blog #NotesOnTheAcademy and I'll explain why: I've been reading and thinking about W.E.B. DuBois a lot recently for a project. While doing so, I have been grappling with the need for the academy in these modern times while also struggling with the high privileges that come with academic roles, and how these institutions are, often, obstructive to realizing justice and really about our own self-preservation.
In the late 1800s and early 1900s, W.E.B. DuBois entered the common ideal of a high academy - Harvard - and he provided examples about what is possible, especially within the constraints of white institutions. However, his personal identity and social development was an important hallmark to his career. For example, his shifting from ideas of the "talented tenth" to understanding that knowledge and wisdom come from the community.
I have a few colleagues who I once considered very close friends. However, over time, their obsession with success in the academy has caused them to become some nasty people. Yes. And, for some, just confused folks - like myself - who keep trying to find a way to be better and fail in the process. The joy is in getting up and trying again. The difference is when folks are not nice or warm or welcoming and begin to speak and act as if they are "the talented," insert Brand Nubian's "Don't Let It Go To Your Head." Don't be a bully, tweeting shade, or spend more time critiquing than creating for our people. Real people are out here struggling.
Check y/our privileges.
I'm not talking about folks we might deem outside of our communities. I'm talking specifically about critical scholars who want to always be right, to be heard, to "teach" people using the iron clad, institutionalist, who remind folks of how much they have read, or that they have a better understanding of this concept or that concept than the next person. It becomes a storm in a teacup. Real people are out here struggling. It is sad and, more importantly, it works against the ideals of justice that seek community knowledge and learning, over time.
I'm hopeful, as we all grow more conscious and critical, that we continue to turn to our mirrors. We never think that we are the problem. We use our identities to hide. And if you're pointing your finger too much, use that mirror to help yourself out. Ask some critical questions, not about others but about yourself. I've been trying to work on my own shit for some years now, and its been hella hard but necessary, and its ongoing.
We should all stay learning.