Hello Scholar

An Open Letter about Representation in Academia from a Black Professor

Because there’s still more room at my table

Hello Scholar,

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.”

Me teaching, winter 2018
Me teaching, winter 2018

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.

With Warm Regards,

Your Black Professor

Souled Out

pray.jpg

Because sometimes, in today’s America, there is no such thing as forgiveness 

you can’t make me say

I forgive you

while the blood is still wet on

the pavement or

on your badge or

on the American flag

and when that blood dries

my face

will still be wet with

tears and thousands upon thousands of years because

there is no such thing as consolation

you can’t make me pray

for the one caught red-handed while

people pay for his lies and

his alibis watching

black mothers cry

watching

their beautiful black babies die

I will never forgive you

you forfeited that kind of love

the moment you made the conscious decision

to hate me

you can’t make me

you can’t make me paint a smile

on this tortured face any longer

because meekness has tainted the canvas enough already and

my load is far too heavy

to keep carrying your weight and

carrying your guilt to

ease the burden

it’s too late for Kumbaya and

your “sorry” makes my ears bleed

it brings me too much pain

and I won’t hold your hand

because it is stained with

the blood of my brother

And I can’t make you wash your hands

 

On Me

unnamed

They say they like

what I wear and

The lips on my lipstick

And the way my hair

wears my head but

It wears on me

The moment my words leave my lips and

I put my foot down and my hands on my hips

It’s too confusing.

And it’s too hard

Be quiet

Be cute

Little black girl

Play

Your

Part

It wears on me

Like when I wear my super skinny jeans

And they say to me

they look so good on you

I say thanks, it’s because I’m running

Running every other day of the week

I’m running

Because it wears on me

They Can’t Even Die


Slave burial grounds and cemeteries continue to be vandalized and disrespected on a regular basis in the South. 


Ten years a slave

times 15 at least

a piece of history that never seems

to ever find its peace

severed under ground that’s leased

To the highest bidder
Can you tell that I am bitter because we’ve seen and done all of this before?

All that is left is the land over our ancestors’ heads

Like collateral for a loan we never even took out

Dejected and neglected

Like a bastard child

The world has the nerve to feel embarrassed about

A product of its own rape, pillage and evil
But here lies the sequel

Burial grounds hidden in small southern towns

Cemeteries on university grounds that

Can only be found underground

Hidden from civilization.

We go from decimation to dedication to desecration

back to decimation all over again

A murder of mind and memory each day we ignore and pretend with

Burial ground dedications and designations and celebrations

While glass shards and hate speech and skull bones and fire

Serve as party decorations…
Can you tell that I am tired?

Because my ancestors couldn’t live and

Now they can’t even die

Black Blue

Your skin, the perfect shade of

perfect

I like it

when it glistens in the sun too

But I love it

When its that dark black blue hue

but do you love your black blue too?

They called you black

and all the other kids laughed

and made you feel

inferior

but the joke is on them when

our own folk pretend that

their hate is your hate

Because they hate their own skin

To begin with

Your blue black has endured

the many evils of

this world tenfold

And yet and still, it upholds

Soft as cotton, bright as pure gold

not that bright like artificial light

but that dark and natural and brilliant type

like the best night of my life

When we fell in love

The type of night that make you wanna

sleep outside because

Only on the darkest night

Can you see all of the stars and

All of the sky

I want you

And your black blue too

But I need you

To love it

And love it fiercely

As I do.

Cleaning Lady

cleaning lady feet
I saw this lady
Clean the bathroom
Mop up the malice, bleach clean the bigotry and throw away the arrogance of a civilization
This United States of a nation
It’s too bad when folk act too good to clean up they own mess
I saw this lady
With the weight of the world on her shoulders
The kids at the college seem frozen in time while she grows older
and older and older
I told her “good morning” and she smiled too
It was the kind of halfway smile that don’t really believe you
I didn’t speak soon enough. Or I spoke too soon.
Then her silence told me that she just here to clean the bathroom.
Society tends to treat its hardest workers with the least respect. Silence kills the spirit. I wrote this to kill the silence. 
Love, Kiara