I lied to you all. I'm not going to stop going to conferences that mostly white people attend. I'm not going to refrain from writing in journals that mostly white people read. I'm going to engage in white spaces in academia.
Maybe you will say that I am a sell out for this. Maybe you will say that I lost courage. I don't know. The prospect that I have done either of those things makes me sad. It makes me want to change my mind about my decision but for now this is where I'm at.
Please try to understand me.
I am making a commitment to work in white spaces in academia because I believe that If it is possible to reason with well meaning people colonizers and gate keepers, I should try to convince them to stop doing and thinking the weird things that they do.
Just so that we are on the same page, I don't think my goal is to teach the colonizers and gatekeepers that I am a person deserving of respect.
My goal is to teach people about realities of our social world.
Before I say anything else, I also want to be clear that I understand that not all white ppl are gatekeepers/colonizers so I am not arguing that there is a need to engage with well meaning white allies (there might be thou). I am specifically talking about entering but white spaces colonial gatekeeping spaces with the purposes of interacting with white colonizers and white gate keepers.
My plan is not do go out of my way to associate with colonizers and gatekeepers (who tf has time for that?) but I will engage with them should the "opportunity" arise. I will do this because I believe that colonizers are people that are deserving of respect and dignity. This means treating them as is they can learn and grow. If I completely disengage with them, I will treat them as if they aren't capable of this, and in doing so I will deny an important aspect of their humanity. I don't like when people deny my humanity in this way so I don't want to do it to other people.
Also, I'm trying to be in the business of both decolonizing and building alternatives to colonial rule. This means that I have to work to both purge to toxicity that is colonialism and build spaces that act as alternatives to colonial spaces. In doing the latter, I can't use the same tools that colonizers use to build their foundation (dehumanization). I gotta work with other values, methods, and ideas. I gotta treat them in a way that they would never think to treat me.
I'm not gon be making concessions to them in doing this.. or at least hopefully I won't. (I don't know if commiting to engaging with them requires that I make concessions.) I will write what I want to write. I mean.. I won't write how I want to write when I write for their journals and conferences because I have to write for my audience but I will strive to write to dismantle, write to transform our social imaginaries, and write to elucidate problems that arise in doing so.
The lessons I learn in grad school, lessons about what an academic is, should enable me to meet them when I give talks at conferences or when they read my work in the journals and books I will one day publish. This knowledge should allow me to make realities of the social world intelligible to them so that they can actually start being objective and rational (like they claim to be). The stakes are too high not to try. The students I teach are being shaped by their colonizing mindsets. News articles and social media posts, information outlets with authority in this odd world, give credence to their work. If I can help them understand a bit about the way they world actually operates, I will.
Some of you have read the last paragraph and took me to mean that I think everyone has a moral obligation to teach people. I don't think this but I do think that I do because of my situation. The thing is I don't have a regular job. My job is to teach. It is engage with people who think differently than me. People who don't have this job might not be responsible for educating the ignorant or deceived masses, but I do.
(Or at least, I think I might.)
Some may also read this and think that I sound like I think I know what's best and that the colonizers and gate keepers need to do and think as I say. This is not an accurate depiction of how I feel. Look, I'm just starting out in grad school. I don't have all the answers. I'm not infallible either. I KNOW I will be wrong a lot. Because my perception about the world is limited and fallible, I know I won't just be teaching people, I will also be learning from them.
Honestly, I'm not all that excited about this new commitment. It actually fills me with dread.
I'm going to work at it though because I think that's the moral thing to do. Being in the business of building requires hard work and sacrifice. I guess this is going to be how I put in the work.
Let it be known that I do not encourage all people to do this. Some people aren't going to work within the system and that's okay. It's most likely good that they do so because we need people attacking and building and repairing the system from all sides.
I think that my particular journey calls me to work within the system because I have the skills to do it. It will take a lot of emotional labor but my personality ensures that I have a natural disposition to be forgiving, caring, and tenacious. But also, for me being a Christian, someone who is supposed to be forgiving and understanding, means that I have a duty to do it. This is not to say that Christians shouldn't work outside the system. All's I'm saying is that my personal walk with God has made it such that working in the system is a goal for me right now.