A Day in the Life

~~~~~SCENE:  Sitting in my room, minding my Twitter.  Housemate/grad student/fellow black girl appears in my doorway.

Housemate:  Can I ask you something?

K:  Shoot.

Housemate:  Has your advisor ever suggested that you not apply for funding?

K:  Ha.  That’s cute.  [pause]  What was their reasoning?

Housemate:  Well, he said I shouldn’t apply for funding right now because I might take some away from people who need it.

K:  [stank face]   Um…did you stop needing to get out of grad school all of a sudden?

Housemate:  Nope.

K:  [pause]  Is he telling anyone else this?

Housemate:  [side-eye–she’s the only person of color in her entire program and one of two in her college]

K:  Yeah….

Housemate:  What should I do?

K:  Rack that shit up.  Do you think the other graduate students are sitting in front of their computers thinking about you while they write their fellowship applications?  Like, “maybe that cute brown girl across the room needs a summer research stipend and perhaps I should cool on this grant right here and let her have it”?

Housemate:  Yeah.  That’s what I thought.

K:  Actually, I’d be pretty pissed if I were you.

Housemate:  Oh, I was.  Cried it out for fifteen minutes.  Then tried to get back to writing.  Wrote two sentences.  Now I’m home.

K:  Hmm.  Well….I affirm you.

Housemate:  [smiles] Thanks man.

~~~~*sigh.  The micro-aggressions of racism in action.

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3 thoughts on “A Day in the Life

  1. I always find it quite disturbing the things that are said to students of color. I had something similar happen to me while I was working on my Master’s degree. I wanted to apply to be a departmental Ambassador (it was a paid position) and when I inquired about the duties of the position, I was told,

    “Well, the department wants to have a chance to spread around the wealth.”

    This was said to me by the Dept Secretary (who was white). I was clearly struggling financially. It had gotten to the point where I was the ONLY one in my department working off campus. I didn’t apply. In hindsight, I wish I would have.

    I also wish that someone had been there to affirm me as well.

    ~Miss C. Jayne

    • I affirm you!

      And I understand completely. It just goes back to the reverse racism turn in the 80s when white privilege had a temper tantrum over academic institutions trying to correct CENTURIES of racist policies. And now the idea of people of color (and women) receiving handouts just for daring to show their brown faces up on campus is so internalized that it can be easy even for us to have knee-jerk reactions and say, “Oh yeah, of course. I want to help my department/office/program out.” As women, this sometimes goes double and hand in hand with “not rocking the boat.”

      *lifting u up*

  2. Pingback: On Alter Egos and Infinite Literacies, Part I | Nuñez Daughter

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