Tuesday, June 17, 2008

I'm done with Black Studies

Not only am I done with Black studies but I'm done with Black solidarity. Let me explain what I mean, I'm not done with caring about and supporting my people but no longer will I do so at my own expense. For the past 2 years I have been pursuing a masters degree in Black Studies, and during these 2 years I have had to deal with a ridiculous amount of bias because not only am I a Black woman, but I'm also a lesbian.
My department tries to appear as if they're open and accepting towards non heterosexuals but they're not. I've had to fight just to pursue my research interest and when I produce this research I've had to work 10 times harder than anyone else to show that it is legitimate research. I've had to be the lone voice arguing against heterosexist scholars that we read, but I've also had to deal with harassment because at the time of my entry I was the only out person in the department. To my knowledge in the 5 years that the graduate program has existed I was the first openly queer student. The lack of Queer people in this department has made the faculty complacent in ignoring all issues regarding sexuality. So when it comes time for me to write my thesis and I want to investigate Black Butch Lesbians all I get is resistance. The chair who reluctantly agreed to chair my thesis knows nothing about gender theory, so I've received no critiques of my argument. She's been completely hostile and disorganized the entire time that I've been writing this damned thesis. I've had to listen to her berate me and my work while she's barely read any of it. But did I complain? No. Why? Because I wanted to support my black people and didn't want to cause a commotion, but I'm done with that. I'm tired of being silent because I didn't want to cause problems for Black people who could care less about me, which was evident by the way they treat me. I wish this was the first time that I've had to deal with shit like this, but no I've had to put up with this same shit from my cohort and an entire conference on Black Studies. A friend of mine presented on how a lot of Black women and Black Queer people have left Black studies to do their research in other departments because Black Studies is so hostile. I am about to join the rest of them because I'm tired, I don't think I can take the abuse anymore. I'm tired of being tokenized or ignored in the discipline that is supposed to represent me. I know women's studies can be just as hostile towards women of color - as evidenced by the whole Andrea Smith debacle- but I'm tired. It seems that while women's studies has a tendency to be very white it seems like they at least try to be more inclusive, while Black studies could care less. When I go to reapply to PhD programs at this point the only Black Studies PhD program I'll be applying to is Northwestern because they have a real demonstrated commitment to Queer people and doing research outside of the heteronormative box. So I'm done, I'm tired and I'm pissed! And when I'm finally done with this thesis process I'm complaining to the dean, because this can not continue.

1 comment:

EvolvingContradiction7 said...

Im sorry to hear that. Going to graduate school is not easy and taking courses is already a strain but to add all that homophobia, ridicule, and ignorance makes it almost impossible. More power to you! that you fought a good fight and you stood up for what you believe in. Two years is alot to stick through but at least one day you will look on that experience and say that it only made you stronger and you learned from it. If changing your major is what will get you out of school then do it, hopefully it does not affect your future plans and getting into a good PhD program.
No matter how much we think the world has changed from the past 20-40 years it has not. The only time change will happen is when they are willing and open to change.

“I remember how being young and black and gay and lonely felt. A lot of it was fine, feeling I had the truth and the light and the key, but a lot of it was purely hell.” ~Audre Lorde