An Open Letter about Representation in Academia from a Black Professor
Because there’s still more room at my table
I want you to know why I am here. I want you to know why I choose to be in a profession where I am most certainly a minority, where across the board, people who look like me are far and few in-between. Did you know that only about 3% of full-time faculty are Black women (National Center for Education Statistics, 2016)?
I am not here by mistake. This is not random. This is just as intentional as it is strategic.
“I teach because I need you to see a visual representation of what you can be…and what you can be better than.” — Yinde Newby, author and educator
Allow me to break this down a little bit.
“…what you can be…and what you can be better than.”
Please don’t for a second think I’m only here teaching you so you can see that you can be like me. Why would I place such limits on you and your beautiful mind? Why would I shame our ancestors, bound by the burdens of slavery and institutional racism, by curbing the leaps and bounds they’ve made for you…the hopes and dreams you were made for? I want you to see you in me and I want you to do bigger and better. I want you to surpass, to transcend, to outshine anything I’ve ever done or ever could do. Don’t see me as the goal or the limit, but rather, see me as the standard. The stepping stone. I want to give you a leg up, but only if you let me.
You may not be familiar with the leaps and bounds I’ve had to make to get this seat at the table, but trust me, I didn’t sit here intending to be the only one. I sat here because I was passed the torch and I plan to pass the torch off to whoever is up to taking the seat.
“…I teach because I need you”
The journey has been far from easy, and it’s far from over. You think you need me, but truth is, I need you. I need you to let me know it was all worth it, that I’m supposed to be here. I need you to justify what I’ve been through.
the dream killers
the “you’re not supposed to be here” stares and micro aggressions
the long nights, the sacrifice
giving college the last 10 plus years of my life
the failures, the questioning of what I’m doing and
who I am
And making God laugh with my own so-called “plans”
tests on material I don’t even remember to get to places I’ll never forget
climbing mountains to help people climb I don’t even know yet
Let me know.
This one is for the scholars, the ancestors and their successors.