Reflections on Present day Academia
I totally believe in the phrase “Black Girls Rock,” because it is so true on many levels. I am entering into my second year in my Social Work PhD program, and I know that there are many other Black women like myself, reaching high levels of achievement and doing what others thought could never be done. I can say first hand that it is not easy to get to this point, but it is possible. That possibility depends on the willingness to be strong, advocate for oneself, and learn to let go of pain and disappointments easily. It is humbling to be in such a position-to position myself to not only have a #seatatthetable, but also have a SAY at the table. I believe that it is more crucial now more than ever for people of color to continue to occupy academic spaces as well as advocate for academic institutions to continue to work towards racial equity in academia, because we still have a ways to go. It is not enough for us to just be in these spaces, we have to try to speak up in them as well.
Even with some of the strides that some institutions have made in making campuses more racially diverse, the work cannot stop there. There are still plenty of doctoral programs around the country with not even ten percent of the student makeup being those of color. It can be very isolating to enter into a space where you are the only one or one of few who look like you do on student and faculty level. But the positive thing about being that one is that even if there is only one of us, we can pave the way for other. Our presence means something-our leadership means something.
Many studies have come out to say that black women are the “most educated” group in the country, and I am glad to be a part of that bunch. In a world where media continues to find way to try to de-value a black woman (prime recent example here: click here ), we are showing daily that despite the negativity, we are invincible. There is no other feeling like dreaming about how you want your life to be and then that dream becoming a reality. Even with these statistics, there are still not a lot of us. I hope that more and more will continue to access higher education and propel themselves to the highest of highs across many different disciplines.
I have seen and experienced many things during my long academic tenure, and I am sure that I will have many more along the way. One thing is for sure-being in the trenches takes hard work, but the reward on the other side will be worth all the blood, sweat and tears. If you are a black woman considering higher education, I am certainly a resource and I hope that this serves as encouragement that you can succeed. You are not alone.
*I do not own the rights to this photo.